What To Expect From A PALS Course

What To Expect From A PALS Course

The pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certification teaches healthcare professionals how to identify, diagnose and treat critical problems in children and infants. PALS certification is required or strongly desired in most medical settings, including surgical units where children could code unexpectedly. The critical care skills taught to students help to increase survival rates after a cardiopulmonary event and could prevent arrest from occurring. Any healthcare professional who needs this certification must register and complete a PALS course. The course consists of several different phases.

Self-Study

Students receive a textbook, handouts or online information before the PALS course starts. Most instructors advise participants to start studying the materials at least one month before the classes start. The information provided for self-study acts as a base for the lessons taught during the classes that take place in a hospital or other setting. The materials cover basic life saving techniques, as well as the factual data about the diagnosis of critical problems in children. Studying these materials is essential to learning and understanding.

Classes

An average PALS course consists of two days of classes. The classes often take place in a setting like a hospital or clinic, although some courses take place in a classroom. The purpose of the live sessions is to present students with a sequence of different situations that could occur. Each scenario tests the medical knowledge of the students, as well as the understanding of the concepts covered in the materials distributed beforehand. The scenarios vary, but generally include infant resuscitation, knowledge of equipment and systemic identification of normal and abnormal conditions in children.

Testing

Each PALS course ends with an examination. The examination presents students with scenarios and asks questions about those situations. The cognitive test contains 50 questions. Students must answer 80 percent of the questions correctly in order to pass. Most medical institutions and employers require that participants take an additional clinical skills test beyond the basic cognitive test. A clinical skills test requires the student to display a practical understanding of the concepts in a live setting.

Recertification

Healthcare professionals who pass a PALS course will receive a certification card. This card is valid for two years. Occasional changes to basic lifesaving procedures and new medical technologies sometimes change the information provided during a PALS course. This is why all certified individuals are required to take recertification courses every two years. The recertification classes are similar or identical to the initial classes in most cases. Some recertification courses even count towards continuing medical education credits that are frequently required in healthcare professions.

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