NEW YORK NURSE: March/April 2012
Q. My employer told me that the state mandates current Basic Life Support (BLS) certification for all registered nurses working in acute care facilities. Is that true? I thought my certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) was sufficient.
A. Many acute care facilities require employees to have current BLS certification, but law does not mandate this. Any facility may set this requirement as a “facility specific” policy. Regulations do require all registered nurses have current competency in ACLS or its equivalent in cardiac service surgery centers and within one year of being assigned to the emergency room [NYCRR Title 10, Section 405.29 (3) (ii); Section 405.19 (2) (iii)].
BLS certification is not necessarily included in ACLS or PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) training. BLS is a separate certification and is renewed every two years. However, BLS can be a prerequisite by entities who offer ACLS or PALS certification.
ACLS and PALS are advanced training programs that include some concepts from BLS, but if you are ACLS or PALS certified, you are not automatically BLS certified. Some nurses who have ACLS or PALS certifications let their BLS certifications expire, assuming that the advanced training supersedes or replaces BLS certification. This is an erroneous assumption. It is best practice for nurses to maintain BLS certification, especially if their employers require it.
According to regulations, registered nurses who administer immunizing agents using non-patient specific orders must be currently certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) through a training program offered by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or an equivalent acceptable to the State Education Department [Regulations of the Education Commissioner, Section 64.7(a)(3)].
This is a sample of the questions NYSNA’s experts answer each day. The advice given is specific for the situation described and may not be applicable generally. If you have questions about your own work setting, it is recommended that you contact your NYSNA nursing representative or the Education, Practice, and Research Program, 11 Cornell Road, Latham, New York 12110-1499 or call 800.724.NYRN, ext. 282.