An Advanced Cardiac Life Support, or ACLS Nurse, is a nurse who has undergone additional training and achieved certification specifically in the area of cardiovascular, or heart, health.
According to the American Heart Association, ACLS training provides a key piece in the chain of survival for victims of cardiovascular disease. Training includes interventions, to prevent cardiac arrest, to treat cardiac arrest, and improve the outcome for patients who have suffered cardiac arrest.
ACLS training to prevent cardiac arrest includes airway management and ventilation support. For the treatment of cardiac arrest, ACLS training takes basic life support and builds on it, providing immediate recognition of cardiac arrest, the quick application of CPR and perhaps rapid defibrillation. Patient outcome can be improved through ACLS training that focuses on post-cardiac arrest patient care.
To become an ACLS Nurse, a person must take an approved ACLS course to gain certification. Course will focus on areas involving pharmacology and the use of drugs in cardiovascular management.
It will involve airway management including intubation. ACLS nurses will also learn code management including Vfib, Brady, arrhythmias and more.
Some courses can be completed in a few days. Candidates should be aware that some hospitals will only accept certification from an American Heart Association (AHA) approved course.
One does not have to be a nurse to get ACLS certification, and certification is completed by many in the health care profession. ACLS training can only be taken after completing a Basic Life Support (BLS) course. One does not have to have nursing experience to get their ACLS certification, and certification can be achieved while attending nursing school.
Where ACLS Trained Nurses may Work
Cardiac arrest can happen anywhere at any time to almost anybody. Therefore, an ACLS Nurse has an additional edge in finding employment in just about any environment. It is an additional tool that one who is looking to advance their nursing career should consider. Having your ACLS certification also shows motivation and interest in improving your education.
There are some areas of employment where an ACLS certification may be required. These would include a hospital emergency room, trauma center, and other critical care facilities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Licensed Practical Nursing jobs are expected to grow by 22% between 2010 and 2010. While they do not have specific information on the financial impact that an ACLS certification may have, they do show the median income of an LPN to be slightly over $40,000 annually, translating to roughly $20 per hour.
LPNs work under the supervision of Registered Nurses, and in 2010 there were 750,000 LPNs and LVNs (Licensed Vocational Nurses) in the workforce. In addition, the BLS expects a large number of nurses to retire in the coming decade, creating further opportunities for those choosing nursing as a career choice.
A nurse who gets their ACLS certification may not see a significant increase in income or job opportunities, but the pursuit of ACLS certification does show motivation and a desire to succeed in your nursing career. Certification is relatively quick and inexpensive, and the real reward may be in the potential saving of a life.