A female doctor sitting at a desk with a stethoscope, discussing ACLS certification for nursing students.

Can a Nursing Student Get the ACLS Certification?

Yes, as a nursing student, you can obtain the ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) certification. It is a valuable credential that can enhance your career prospects and provide you with essential knowledge and skills in emergency situations. However, there are specific requirements and steps you need to follow to obtain this certification. Let’s explore them in detail.

What is ACLS Certification?

ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, and ACLS Certification is a credential that certifies individuals in the management of cardiac emergencies. It focuses on providing specialized knowledge and skills required to assess and treat life-threatening cardiovascular emergencies. ACLS certification is recognized globally and is essential for healthcare professionals, including nurses, who work in critical care or emergency settings.

Eligibility for ACLS Certification

Can Nursing Students Apply?

Yes, nursing students are eligible to apply for ACLS certification. While ACLS certification is commonly pursued by healthcare professionals already working in critical care or emergency settings, nursing students can take the initiative to obtain this credential during their education.

Requirements for Nursing Students

To be eligible for ACLS certification as a nursing student, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification: Most ACLS courses require candidates to have a valid BLS certification before enrolling. BLS certification focuses on basic life-saving techniques, such as CPR, and is a prerequisite for ACLS training.
  • Completion of Nursing Fundamentals: It is recommended to have a solid foundation in nursing fundamentals before pursuing ACLS certification. This ensures that you understand the underlying principles of patient care and can apply them effectively in emergency situations.
  • Enrollment in an ACLS Course: Nursing students can enroll in ACLS courses offered by reputable organizations, such as the American Heart Association (AHA). These courses provide comprehensive training on advanced cardiac life support and prepare students for the ACLS certification exam.

Steps to Apply for ACLS Certification

To obtain ACLS certification as a nursing student, follow these steps:

  1. Research ACLS Courses: Look for reputable organizations that offer ACLS courses, such as the American Heart Association. Consider factors like cost, course format (in-person or online), and course duration.
  2. Enroll in an ACLS Course: Once you have selected a suitable ACLS course, enroll in it. Pay attention to the course schedule and ensure it aligns with your nursing school commitments.
  3. Attend the ACLS Course: Attend all the classes and practical sessions of the ACLS course. Actively participate and practice the skills taught during the training.
  4. Prepare for the Certification Exam: Study the course materials, practice scenarios, and review the guidelines provided by the ACLS course. Familiarize yourself with algorithms used in ACLS protocols.
  5. Take the ACLS Certification Exam: After completing the course, you will need to pass the ACLS certification exam to obtain the credential. The exam includes written and practical components to assess your knowledge and skills in managing cardiac emergencies.

Advantages of Having an ACLS Certification as a Nursing Student

Career Enhancement Prospects

Having an ACLS certification as a nursing student can bring several advantages to your career, including:

  • Increased Employability: ACLS certification sets you apart from other nursing graduates and makes you more desirable to potential employers. It shows that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to handle cardiac emergencies, making you an asset to any healthcare team.
  • Expanded Job Opportunities: ACLS certification opens up a wider range of job opportunities for nursing students. Many healthcare facilities require ACLS certification for positions in critical care, emergency departments, and intensive care units.
  • Higher Salary Potential: ACLS certification can also lead to higher earning potential. With the added skills and expertise, you may be eligible for higher-paying positions or receive additional compensation for your ACLS certification.

Practical Knowledge and Skills Enhancement

Obtaining ACLS certification as a nursing student not only enhances your career prospects but also improves your practical knowledge and skills. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Enhanced Critical Thinking Skills: ACLS training focuses on teaching effective decision-making and critical thinking in high-stress situations. This training can sharpen your ability to assess and prioritize patient needs during emergencies.
  • Improved Teamwork and Communication: ACLS certification emphasizes the importance of teamwork and communication in managing cardiac emergencies. These skills are essential in a healthcare setting, where collaboration and effective communication can save lives.
  • Updated Knowledge on Cardiac Care: ACLS courses provide the latest evidence-based guidelines for cardiac care.

Managing the ACLS Certification

Recertification Process

ACLS certification is valid for a specific period, typically two years. To maintain your certification, you will need to undergo the recertification process before it expires. The recertification process involves taking a refresher course and passing the recertification exam.

Balancing Nursing Studies and ACLS Certification

As a nursing student, balancing your studies with obtaining ACLS certification may seem challenging. However, with proper planning and time management, it is possible to successfully pursue both. Here are a few tips to help you manage your nursing studies and ACLS certification:

  • Plan Ahead: Look at your nursing school schedule and plan your ACLS certification around it. Choose a course that fits your availability and allows you to attend classes without conflicting with your nursing school commitments.
  • Study in Advance: Prepare for your ACLS certification exam in advance. Use downtime between nursing classes or during breaks to review course materials and practice scenarios. This will help you stay on top of your studies while working towards your ACLS certification.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to your nursing school faculty or mentor for guidance and support. They can provide valuable advice on managing your time effectively and balancing your nursing studies with ACLS certification.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Remember to prioritize self-care and avoid burnout. Take breaks, practice stress-management techniques, and ensure you get enough rest and relaxation. Taking care of your well-being will ultimately benefit your studies and your ability to succeed in obtaining ACLS certification.

In conclusion, as a nursing student, obtaining ACLS certification is not only possible but highly beneficial for your career. Remember to prioritize self-care and seek guidance from mentors to ensure a successful balance between nursing studies and ACLS certification.


Q: Is ACLS certification only for nursing students?
No, ACLS certification is not limited to nursing students. It is open to healthcare professionals from various backgrounds, including doctors, paramedics, and respiratory therapists, who work in critical care or emergency settings.

Q: Can I take an online ACLS course as a nursing student?
Yes, many reputable organizations offer online ACLS courses that are suitable for nursing students. These courses provide the flexibility to learn at your own pace and fit your studies into your schedule.

Q: How long does it take to complete an ACLS course as a nursing student?
The duration of an ACLS course may vary depending on the organization and the format of the course (in-person or online). Typically, ACLS courses range from 1-2 days for initial certification and may require less time for recertification.

Q: Will my ACLS certification expire if I don’t recertify before it expires?
Yes, if you do not recertify before your ACLS certification expires, it will no longer be valid. It is important to stay informed about the recertification process and start it well in advance to avoid any lapse in certification.

Q: Are there any study resources available to help prepare for the ACLS certification exam?
Yes, there are study resources available to help you prepare for the ACLS certification exam. Many organizations provide course materials, practice scenarios, and guidelines to help you review and study the necessary content.

Q: Can I take the ACLS certification exam multiple times if I don’t pass on my first attempt?
Yes, if you do not pass the ACLS certification exam on your first attempt, you can usually retake the exam. However, there may be additional fees involved, and you may need to wait a certain period before taking the exam again.

Q: Will having ACLS certification increase my chances of getting hired as a nursing student?
Yes, having ACLS certification can increase your chances of getting hired as a nursing student. It demonstrates your commitment to professional development and your ability to handle cardiac emergencies, making you a valuable asset to potential employers.

Q: Can I use my ACLS certification in other healthcare settings outside of critical care or emergency departments?
Yes, ACLS certification is applicable in various healthcare settings. While it is commonly associated with critical care and emergency departments, the knowledge and skills gained from ACLS training can be utilized in other areas, such as cardiac rehabilitation or outpatient clinics.

Q: Is ACLS certification recognized internationally?
Yes, ACLS certification is recognized internationally. It is a globally recognized credential that demonstrates your competence in providing advanced cardiac life support.

Q: Can I obtain ACLS certification as a nursing student before completing my nursing program?
Yes, you can obtain ACLS certification as a nursing student before completing your nursing program. Many nursing students take the initiative to pursue ACLS certification during their education to gain a competitive edge and enhance their career prospects.