CPR Certification Guidance for Colleges and Universities during COVID-19

Each year Code One sees hundreds of healthcare students for BLS Provider (CPR) training as they prepare for entry into their clinical semesters. We additionally provide recertification training for senior students nearing graduation who need to renew their CPR certifications.

With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving colleges and universities closed nationwide, healthcare students are experiencing difficulty maintaining their BLS Provider certifications. New entry students are also up against deadlines to obtain initial BLS Provider training and certification before their clinical semester starts in the summer or fall. Most states have ordered educational institutions to close during the pandemic which means no instructor-led certification training is being lawfully offered in most areas.

This article will share a few things going on in our world, how this will impacts faculty and students, and some solutions our partner schools have implemented to get through this difficult time.

First off, Code One is fully complying with government orders regarding educational institution closures and has cancelled all instructor-led classes through April 15 for the safety of our students and teammates.  We anticipate the need to cancel additional programs through the end of April and potentially into May depending on what officials order.

Amid this crisis, the American Heart Association has recommended that schools and employers extend CPR certification expiration dates by 120 days.  This is a recommendation only, so it is up to the school and/or clinical site to adopt if desired.  As most schools have suspended clinical rotations until the fall, this recommendation does not help many students or their schools.

Since March through May is ordinarily Code One’s busiest time, we are expecting a surge of participants in our classes needing initial and recertification training once we are authorized to reopen.  While we are planning to add classes to our schedule, it may still take longer than usual for students to register for a class.

Here are a few strategies that our partner schools have taken:

  • Extend certification deadlines.  If you require CPR certification for incoming or returning students, allow students until at least July to get this submitted and clearly communicate any extensions to students.  We have gotten calls this week from stressed students who attend several schools indicating that they need to have their class done by the end of April – this makes it extremely difficult for them and may jeopardize their safety.
  • Don’t compromise on skills.  CPR is primarily a psychomotor skill which students need to master for certification.  The American Heart Association requires that we use equipment which measures the speed and depth of chest compressions to ensure these metrics.  There are some online-only CPR courses which don’t test skills at all.  Don’t trust an online-only course to teach lifesaving skills.  Continue to require an American Heart Association certification to ensure that quality measures are followed.
  • Utilize eLearning.  The American Heart Association’s Heartcode BLS program provides a hybrid approach to CPR training.  Students complete a portion of the training online and then attend a 1 hour skills practice and testing session which is conducted in-person.  Some of our partner schools are using this solution, requiring students to complete the online portion now or over the summer, and then scheduling Code One to conduct on-campus skills testing when they return to campus.
  • Use a trusted Training Center.  While many AHA Training Centers are high-quality, we routinely hear from students about past courses (not with us) which cut corners and provide less-than-ideal certification training.  Complaints have included unprofessional facilities, not enough manikins or equipment for the class, no manikin instrumentation, too large of a class size, and not following AHA curriculum. Use a Training Center that you trust to provide high-quality training.

    Code One is a high-performance American Heart Association Training Center.  Our regularly scheduled BLS Provider courses use a 1:1 ratio for instrumented manikins to students. Class size is limited to 8 participants to maximize instructor interaction. We strictly follow the AHA curriculum to ensure our programs meet objectives – comfortable and confident emergency care providers.

    Using a trusted Training Center ensures that your students learn skills properly, confidently, and consistently which reduces your risk if they are called upon to use those skills during a clinical rotation.  With 12 locations along the east coast – Code One is likely to be able to support your students even if they live far from campus.

We are here for you as a resource through COVID-19 and beyond.  Have a question about CPR skills, curriculum, whether a certification card is valid, or when certificates expire?  Ask us anything – we will either know the answer or we will connect with our AHA account managers to get it for you.

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