What is the difference between ACLS and BLS?


In the realm of emergency medical care, two critical certifications are Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS). Both are designed to help healthcare providers save lives during cardiovascular emergencies, but they differ significantly in scope, complexity, and application. This article explores these differences in detail.

Key point: the ACLS course entirely includes the BLS course concepts. Many companies require staff to do ACLS and BLS certifications, which seems to be duplicitous.
Good news: if you do your BLS with Pacific Medical Training BLS, we manage to get you up to 8 CE credit hours for it.

Basic life support (BLS)

Definition and purpose

Basic Life Support (BLS) provides the foundational skills necessary for responding to life-threatening emergencies. BLS focuses on immediate actions to support breathing and circulation in victims of cardiac arrest and other emergencies until advanced medical care can be provided.

Key components

Training and certification

BLS certification is accessible to a wide range of individuals, including lay rescuers and healthcare providers. The training typically takes a few hours and includes hands-on practice to ensure competency in performing CPR and using an AED.

Advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS)

Definition and purpose

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) builds upon the skills learned in BLS, adding advanced interventions to treat cardiac arrest, stroke, and other cardiovascular emergencies. ACLS is intended for healthcare professionals involved in the management of these critical situations.

Key components

Training and Certification

ACLS certification is more intensive, requiring several days of training that includes advanced skill practice, ECG interpretation, pharmacology, and team dynamics. It is designed for healthcare professionals such as physicians, nurses, and paramedics.

Key differences between ACLS and BLS

Scope of practice

Target audience

Level of training

Situational application

Frequently asked questions

- In your ACLS course, do you have a part about anaphylactic shock and the management associated in a non-hospital setting? For personal information, is your ALCS course exclusively online?

Anaphylactic shock and the management associated in a non-hospital setting are not covered in our ACLS course. Our ACLS course is completed entirely online.

- Is ACLS required for giving ACLS medications?

There is no requirement anywhere that says anyone must be ACLS certified. Most regulatory agencies do however require training in resuscitation for anyone administering or monitoring patients receiving anesthesia or sedation. Most facilities utilize ACLS or PALS to fulfill this need, but it is not a requirement.

- If I take the ACLS course, do I get the BLS and ACLS eCards?

You will receive an ACLS eCard if you take the ACLS course. If you need or want a BLS eCard you may purchase the BLS course. We offer multiple course discounts!

- Is it OK if my current ACLS is already expired?

Yes. If you have taken an ACLS course with us or another training center during or afterMay 17, 2020, then you can take this recertification. If you have neven done ACLS before, please take the complete certification course.

Accepted in every state and Canadian province

Nurses and physicians everywhere in the United States and Canada can take our online ACLS and BLS courses for their certification needs. We offer our courses in all US states, including Arizona, Hawaii, Washington, Iowa, Michigan, as well as in Canadian provinces.


Written by on May 15, 2024

Was this article helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Share it Facebook

You are welcome to use our materials on your web page. Please cite as "PMT" or just give the following code to your web developer to link to our site:

<a href="">What is the difference between ACLS and BLS?</a>