I recently had to complete a CPR certification course when I started a new job at a cancer research hospital. I contacted the Human Resources department to schedule my course, and even though there were almost ten classes offered in the coming month before my certification deadline, every single class was already completely full.
What was I supposed to do? I was required by the hospital to be CPR certified by a specific date, but there were no courses available to take at the hospital. Interwebs to the rescue! I was able to take a course online through the American Heart Association web portal, and afterwards go to the hospital to demonstrate my proficiency on a mannequin rather than taking the entire certification course at the hospital.
Online CPR certification courses are similar to in-person courses in many ways, but also are unique in many ways. Here are just a few reasons I liked my online course:
- Open Registration Always. This was the most appealing element to me. I didn’t have to worry about hurrying to sign up before classes filled. Online courses are widely available through many providers, so you’ll never have to worry about them being full. This can be especially useful if you have a busy schedule. You can register for a course and take it at 3 o’clock in the morning if that works best for you.
- Learn at Your Own Pace. If you are a speed reader, or if you like to take more time than most people to digest each module, you can move at your preferred speed without having to worry about holding up the rest of the class or being bored and frustrated that the class is moving too slowly for your optimal learning. There were some parts of the course that I was very familiar with and moved through more quickly, while other parts I wanted to read through carefully. I loved the freedom to choose my learning speed.
- Learn in Comfort. Not everyone finds sitting silently in a chair for several consecutive hours the most conducive environment for learning. If you take an online CPR course, you can pause the slide presentation or simulation whenever you need to stretch, sneeze, or jot down some notes; you can practice yelling commands at the computer screen (which you might not be comfortable doing in front of others in a CPR class emergency simulation); you can wear pajamas… you get the idea. The sky is the limit as far as creating your own comfortable learning environment for an online CPR course.
- Practice Endlessly. Online courses vary, but often include a simulation module where you have the choice to click various buttons to decide what action the rescuer should take. At the end of the simulation, you receive feedback specific to each action, whether it was correct or incorrect, and whether you took too long, or didn’t act quickly enough. You have to achieve a certain level of proficiency before moving onto the next module, usually around 80%, but if you want to keep practicing until you get 100%, you have the option to do so. This may not be possible in a classroom setting where priority is given to completing the class on time and getting all students through each portion of the course.
Online courses vary. Depending on how much you want to learn or the level of certification that you need, you can take a course that teaches only the basics of adult CPR. On the other end of the spectrum is a comprehensive Basic Life Support course that includes adult, child and infant CPR as well as Basic First Aid, how to use an Automated External Defibrillator, and information about bloodborne pathogens. Individuals working in healthcare settings are required to take the comprehensive course. If you’re taking a CPR certification course as a required part of your employment, check with your Human Resources department to get details about the level of certification they need.
Generally online courses are built in modules. For example, in a basic course there may be an introductory module reviewing the history of CPR, the mechanics of artificial life support, the circulatory system, followed by a basic introduction to emergency situations. The second module might cover the specifics of adult CPR such as important words to know, how to assess an emergency scene, and then the appropriate response steps for one or two rescuers. Some online courses offer exam questions after each module, while others may include a comprehensive written exam at the end of all the modules to test your competency.
When you’re choosing an online course, be sure to research the course to ensure it meets your needs or the needs of your employer. There are a wide variety of courses offered online. Some offer instant certification, while others are a hybrid model of online training and an in-person hands-on skills test. A 100% online course may not meet the requirements of your employer.
Online courses can be great to refresh your memory if you’ve taken a course recently and want to quickly review the information. An in-person CPR class is several hours long, while an online course usually takes 45-90 minutes. No matter whether you choose an online or in-person course, be sure to find out the specifics of the format and content of the course you’re considering to ensure your time is well invested.