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AHA Clarifies ACLS Policy

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February 21, 2013

Collaboration between the American Heart Association, AARC members, and the AARC Executive Office has resulted in clarification on who is eligible to take ACLS and PALS courses as well as become an instructor for those courses—and respiratory therapists will continue to be recognized in both areas.

There had been misinterpretation about respiratory therapists fulfilling the requirements in order to take the advanced life support courses and become regional faculty to teach the advanced courses. After receiving several inquiries from respiratory therapists, the AARC used its liaisons and contacts to work directly with the leadership of the American Heart Association to clarify the role of the respiratory therapist. "We want to thank AHA leaders for taking our concerns seriously and working collaboratively with us," said Tom Kallstrom, AARC Executive Director.

Based on that conversation, the AHA has published an unequivocal definition that includes respiratory therapists among the healthcare providers eligible for the ACLS and PALS training and be eligible for consideration as an instructor. 

“We thank the AHA for working with us to provide a strong statement for our respiratory therapists,” said George Gaebler, AARC President.

Notice published in AHA Newsletter

Clarification on Definition of "Healthcare Provider" in AHA Advanced Courses
We have received several questions about who is eligible to take AHA ACLS and PALS courses, receive ACLS and PALS course completion cards and subsequently, be eligible for consideration for an AHA Regional Faculty position. On pages 44 and 54 of the ACLS and PALS Instructor Manuals, respectively, the target audience for these advanced courses is "any current, active healthcare provider" who practices ACLS or PALS skills in his or her occupation. Below, we have provided additional points to clarify the definition of healthcare providers.

  • AHA uses the terminology of “any current, active healthcare provider” to be inclusive of any potential member of a resuscitation team. Also, because the AHA’s course materials are translated into up to 12 languages and used in more than 40 countries, the terminology is broad enough to account for the fact that certain professions outside of the US do not require the same level of licensure as is required in the US.
  • Examples of “any current, active healthcare provider” include, but are not limited to: physicians, nurses, paramedics, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses, dentists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists or any other provider who may be part of a resuscitation team. Therefore, there is no limitation for current, active healthcare providers to attend AHA advanced courses or to be considered as Instructors for AHA advanced courses.

Likewise, there is no limitation for any AHA Instructor to apply for Regional Faculty status based on his or her level of licensure. For example, a respiratory therapist who applies to become Regional Faculty will not be denied status solely on the basis of his or her level of licensure.