PALS - Pediatric Advanced Life Support

  • $151-$455
  • Renews every 2 years

COURSE FORMAT

In Person
Blended

About

The American Heart Association’s (AHA) Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Provider Course prepares healthcare providers to recognize and intervene when pediatric patients experience a respiratory emergency, shock, and/or cardiopulmonary arrest. It’s intended for any healthcare provider who responds to emergencies involving infants or children and for personnel in pediatric intensive care, and critical care units, emergency medicine, and emergency response. The goal is to improve the quality of care provided to seriously injured or ill children and improve outcomes for all pediatric patients.

PALS focuses on the pediatric patient population whose bodies respond differently than adults. It’s a more advanced course than CPR or Basic Life Support (BLS) and critical for doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, paramedics, and other healthcare providers who assess and manage emergencies involving infants, and children. PALS certification may be part of some healthcare providers’ job requirements.

Course Format

The AHA offers two PALS training formats that both teach the same science-based skills, and provide an AHA PALS Course Completion Card. Both formats also require students to earn a minimum score of 84% on a multiple-choice exam that must be completed online.

In Person

Classroom PALS is an instructor-led, hands-on format that’s fully completed in an in-person classroom environment. These courses include a series of case scenarios with simulations and require students to complete several skills stations, including child CPR and AED, infant CPR, rhythm disturbances/electrical therapy, airway management and vascular access. They must also pass the 1-Rescuer and 2-Rescuer Child BLS with AED and the 1-Rescuer and 2-Rescuer Infant BLS Skills tests, plus one cardiac PALS core case scenario and one respiratory or shock PALS core case scenario by using the appropriate medical treatment and effective team dynamics.

  • Completion time: Instructor-led PALS courses take approximately 17.25 hours for a traditional full course with breaks or 16.75 hours without breaks or 12.5 hours for a full course with breaks or 10.5 hours without and 8.75 hours for an update course with breaks or 8.25 hours without.

  • Cost: Determined by the AHA Training Center but ranges between $240 and $455. This cost may or may not include the PALS Provider Manual, which costs $48 for an eBook or $54 for a print manual when purchased through the AHA.

Blended

Blended Learning HeartCode PALS utilizes a personalized adaptive algorithm that allows students to follow a learning path that continuously adapts to their inputs, including their self-reported confidence levels, and performance. HeartCode PALS courses combine an online portion and an instructor-led, hands-on session where students perform skills practice and testing. Students can choose a pre-hospital or in-hospital contextualized track.

  • Completion Time: Online portion of HeartCode PALS varies based on the student’s level of experience, and the hands-on skills session takes about 5 hours.

  • Cost: $151 online portion. Hands-on skills session varies by individual AHA Training Centers but often runs between $120 and $245.

Certification

Before taking a PALS course, students should have already mastered infant and child BLS skills. There’s a mandatory pre-course self-assessment available online that evaluates students’ knowledge in practical application, rhythm recognition and pharmacology. They must achieve a score of 70% or better on this assessment and bring their pre-course certificate to their instructor-led, hands-on class to be granted entry. Mandatory pre-course self-assessments determine whether students are prepared to begin PALS Provider training to minimize their risk of failing the course.

It's also recommended, but not mandatory, for students to complete pre-course work that includes interactive videos viewed online before entering the classroom. These videos review PALS Course content to prepare students for the course and include questions to engage students. Pre-course work helps better prepare students to participate as soon as they enter the classroom, which allows more time for hands-on skills training.

Renewal

After passing either a Blended Learning HeartCode or Classroom PALS course, students earn a PALS Provider Course Completion Card that’s valid for two years. Most facilities require healthcare providers to renew this card before it expires, but students can take a renewal course even after their card expires. Renewal courses usually take a day to complete in an instructor-led, classroom course and run between $100 and $330.

AHA virtual skills testing and virtual renewal testing are currently available from some providers but only count if the provider is AHA authorized. The AHA mandates these providers to complete the HeartCode course when using the virtual option.

Continuing Education

The AHA is accredited to provide continuing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Therefore, RNs can receive up to 4.75 contact hours, nurse practitioners up to one hour of Category 1 credit, physician assistants up to 3.75 hours of Category 1 credit, emergency medical services personnel up to 5.25 Advanced CE hours, respiratory therapists up to 4.5 contact hours and pharmacists up to 3.75 contact hours.

Other Resources

Related Certifications

Nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, emergency medical technicians and other healthcare providers who may encounter pediatric emergencies during their work may benefit from other training and certifications directly related to children and infants, including:

  • Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition and Stabilization (PEARS) certification prepares healthcare providers to quickly assess, recognize, communicate and provide initial intervention for pediatric patients with respiratory emergencies, cardiopulmonary arrest and shock to improve outcomes.

  • The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics introduces the concepts and basic skills of neonatal resuscitation and is designed for any healthcare professional involved in any aspect of neonatal resuscitation.

  • The Sugar, Temperature, Airway, Blood pressure, Lab work, and Emotional support (STABLE) neonatal education courses focuses on post-resuscitation or pre-transport stabilization with a concentration.

  • Acute/Critical Care Nursing-Pediatric (CCRN-Pediatric) certification validates the knowledge and skills of registered nurses providing care to acutely ill pediatric patients.

  • Acute/Critical Care Knowledge Professional-Pediatric (CCRN-K-Pediatric) certification recognizes nurses who influence the care of patients in pediatric acute or critical care units but don’t necessarily provide direct care to patients.

Other related certifications include the AAPCC Certified Specialist in Poison Information (C-SPI).

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Frequently asked questions

Can students earn a BLS Provider card during PALS class?

Yes, the AHA allows instructors to give a BLS skills test and exam during the PALS course if a BLS instructor is present to give both the skills test and exam. Therefore, students needing to renew their BLS can earn both their BLS and PALS Provider cards during the same course.

Are students allowed to use the instructional resources during the exam?

Yes, the AHA adopted an open-resource policy for the PALS exam so students can use any printed or electronic resources during the exam, including the provider manual and notes taken during class. However, students can’t interact with other students or the instructor during testing.

Is there a printed version of the PALS Pre-course Self-Assessment?

No, it’s only available online because it assesses a student’s knowledge based on how they answer the questions. The interactive capabilities available online can’t be duplicated in a written format.

What other certifications does the AHA offer besides the PALS?

The American Heart Association (AHA) also offers the following certifications:

  • Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition and Stabilization (PEARS)

  • The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)

What organization offers the PALS?

The American Heart Association (AHA) offers the PALS.

What other certifications should I consider after getting the PALS?

After obtaining the PALS, you might also pursue the Sugar, Temperature, Airway, Blood pressure, Lab work, and Emotional support (STABLE), the Acute/Critical Care Nursing-Pediatric (CCRN-Pediatric) and the Acute/Critical Care Knowledge Professional-Pediatric (CCRN-K-Pediatric).