What Is PALS?

Updated on November 10, 2021

PALS is a certification for medical professionals that teaches them how to respond to various cardiopulmonary and respiratory emergencies. Medical professionals such as nurses and EMTs need these skills to provide comprehensive care to the emergencies they encounter. 

This article covers what PALS Certification is, why it’s important, and what medical professionals should prepare for before enrolling. Continue reading to learn all there is to know about earning your PALS certification.

If you are not a medical professional, you should consider earning your 100 online CPR certification. CPR certifications are ideal for anyone looking to sharpen their emergency response skills and potentially save a life. 

What Is PALS Certification?

PALS certifications are different from ACLS and BLS certifications because they focus specifically on delivering essential care to critically injured infants and children. However, PALS contains more specific instructions than basic CPR certifications. Participants who enroll in the PALS certification program will learn PALS treatment algorithms, team dynamics, effective resuscitation, and pediatric assessments. 

Why Is PALS Certification Important?

Children and infants respond to CPR differently than adults. Medical professionals need to clearly understand these differences to respond to medical emergencies that occur in the field. Some of the most pronounced differences include different heart rhythms and airway management tools. Medical caregivers must also understand how infants and children respond to medications differently than adults. 

Cardiac arrests are rarer in infants and children than in adults. Because of the relatively infrequent occurrence of cardiac arrest in infants and children, responders must remain up to date on their certification and their response skills. 

Medical professionals have a responsibility to obtain both ACLS and PALS certifications to ensure they can respond to a multitude of emergencies that an average bystander can’t. EMT professionals, nurses, and individuals working in intensive care and critical care units must all obtain their PALS and ACLS certification. 

What Can I Expect to Learn In a PALS Certification Course?

PALS certification courses should teach medical professionals the following procedures: 

  • Timely recognition and intervention procedures required to prevent respiratory and cardiac arrest in pediatric patients. 
  • A systemic approach to pediatric assessment using initial impressions, primary and secondary assessments, and diagnostic tests. 
  • Specific interventions for infants and children with respiratory and cardiac emergencies. 
  • Post-resuscitation management with the scope of practice. 
  • Effective communication and team response tactics during pediatric resuscitation. 
  • Steps and for administering and managing effective post-resuscitation management. 
  • Application of appropriate cardiorespiratory monitoring. 
  • Selection of appropriate medication and electrical therapies for arrhythmia patients. 
  • Rapid capsular access to administer fluid and medications. 

What Are the PALS Requirements?

To receive your PALS certification, you must complete your classroom course and the learning stations. Students must pass a written exam with at least 84 percent. They must also pass the skills tests, such as 1 and 2 rescuer child BLS. 

Participants must perform well in two PALS core case scenarios and lead the team in cardiac arrest and respiratory cases. The following are the additional scenarios in which participants must perform well: 

  • Lower airway obstruction
  • Lung disease
  • Obstructive shock
  • Bradycardia 

The class also requires that participants perform well at infant CPR, child CPR, AED, respiratory emergencies, vascular access, and heart rhythm disturbances. 

What Is the Difference Between Adult and Child CPR?

Compared to adults, children don’t typically go unconscious. More often than not, children who go unconscious do so because of a choking hazard, suffocation, drowning, or a different injury. Infants are also more likely to survive following speedy CPR because their bodies are more resilient than adults’. 

Before beginning CPR, check to make sure the child is unconscious. During adult CPR, the responder should shake or tap the person, but during an infant CPR, you should tap the soles of the baby’s feet or gently stroke the baby. If you don’t see any responsiveness, you should begin CPR. 

To start airway control with an infant, gently tilt their head back and lift their chin. When you see the infant breathing, be aware that infants can sometimes have different breathing patterns than adults. If there is no pu breathing or pulse, and the baby is unconscious, begin CPR. 

While conducting CPR, you should also pay attention for any signs of airway obstruction. A blocked airway for an infant means you should perform first aid tactics rather than CPR. If you don’t notice any obstructions and the baby isn’t breathing, perform CPR.

What Should You Do to Prepare for Your PALS Course?

If you want the PALS certification, you can prepare before enrolling to ensure you’re ready to take the class. Students need to master the BLS skills for infants and children. They also need to understand the different airways management tools and how to give them during care. 

Understanding how different drugs interact with infants and children is another way to prepare for your PALS certification. Lastly, invest time into getting familiar with the Systematic Approach Algorithm and the “evaluate, identify, and intervene,” sequence. 

The American Heart Association has also created a student website to let students and instructors access online pre-course assessments for preparation and other resources. The website provides videos on how to manage shocks, arrhythmias, and respiratory distress. 

You should expect two days to complete the course. The total course time is around 13 hours and 40 minutes with additional time for breaks and lunch. After completing the course, you will get a course completion card valid for two years. 

Key Takeaways

The most important concept to remember when considering your PALS is that it differs from ACLS because PALS responds primarily to infant and child emergencies. PALS also includes infant respiratory care and teaches participants how certain drugs interact with infants and children compared to how they interact with adults. 

If you’re a medical professional, your employer will likely require you to get your ACLS and PALS certifications. Completing these courses early on will better prepare you for the medical professional world and equip you with the tools you need to respond to a wide array of medical emergencies. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.