Professional and Continuing Education

Advanced Cardiac Life Support

ACLS Course

What is the AHA’s 2020 ACLS Provider Course?

The AHA’s ACLS Provider Course has been updated to reflect new science in the 2020 AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC, as well as the 2019 Update to the 2018 ASA Ischemic Stroke Guidelines. ACLS teaches the importance of preventing cardiac arrest, high-performance teams, continuous high-quality CPR, systems of care, recognition and intervention of cardiopulmonary arrest, post-cardiac arrest care, acute dysrhythmias, stroke, and acute coronary syndromes (ACS). The goal of the ACLS Provider Course is to improve outcomes for adult patients of cardiac arrest and other cardiopulmonary emergencies through early recognition and interventions by high-performance teams.

What specifically is taught in the new ACLS Course?

In the 2020 ACLS Provider Course, students will learn and practice:
  • Systematic approach (assessment)
  • High-quality BLS
  • Airway management
  • Rhythm recognition
  • Defibrillation
  • Intravenous (IV)/intraosseous (IO) access (information only)
  • Use of medications
  • Cardioversion
  • Transcutaneous pacing
  • High-performance teams

What are the key differences between the 2015 Guidelines and 2020 Guidelines versions of the ACLS Provider Course?

Learning and Testing Stations

The key change in the ACLS Provider Course is achieving a minimal Chest Compression Fraction (CCF) of 81% for more objective practice and testing. This allows everyone to move from a perception of how they did to actual measures of how they performed (perception to reality). This requires scenarios be run in real time so that CCF can be measured coupled with a required feedback device for increased CPR quality. Teams will need to work together to figure out how to increase their CCF (i.e., choreography, logistics, etc.) for arrest related cases. The desire is to transfer this newly acquired knowledge into real world emergencies. This is the core of increasing survival rates.

Online Exams

The AHA now offers online exams for Instructor-led Training (ILT) courses. Using their Security ID number, Training Centers secure online exams (bundled with eCards or as a standalone option) from ShopCPR to be issued to students during the ILT course. Online exams improve exam security and are just one way the AHA ensures that card holders around the world have met the same course completion requirements for ACLS classroom training.

Precourse Work

Instructor-led courses now include precourse work. If an Instructor chooses this option (recommended), students review course content through online interactive videos before they enter the classroom. Video lessons cover multiple medical subjects to prepare students for the course. Each lesson includes questions to engage students. This format allows more classroom time for hands-on skills training and leads to students being better prepared to participate as soon as they enter the classroom.


In the 2020 ACLS Provider Course, Instructors conduct a prebriefing with students immediately before the start of each simulation. The goals of prebriefing are to establish a positive learning environment and to provide information about the session to students. In addition, teams will set goals for the case and discuss the goals they set in the prebriefing during the debriefing. This will prepare students for success in the course.


High-Quality BLS Skills Testing:

  • Focuses on continuous chest compressions

Megacode Testing:

  • Assesses students as a team
  • Set goals related to chest compression fraction and teamwork

What is the format for the ACLS Provider ILT Course?

In the new ACLS Provider ILT Course, precourse work is completed before the course so that students are prepared for the course at a Training Center (TC) or other facility. Precourse work includes the mandatory Precourse Self-Assessment, followed by video lessons. The course is structured as follows:

  • Core concepts are presented online through interactive video lessons. Video lessons are completed before coming to class. Then Instructors lead discussions and case-base scenarios around a manikin during class.
  • The Instructor coaches students by using a feedback device as they practice CPR and ventilation skills.
  • The Instructor monitors as each student/team demonstrates skills proficiency as outlined in the skills testing checklist.
  • Students take the ACLS Provider Course Exam exam to confirm their understanding of core concepts.
  • The TC may choose for students to complete online video lessons (precourse work) before coming to class, or may choose to conduct a traditional ACLS course, where all video lessons are conducted in class as interactive discussions with students. The course is designed to give students the opportunity to practice and demonstrate proficiency in the skills used in resuscitation concepts.

Intended Audience:

The ACLS Course is designed for healthcare professionals who either direct or participate in the management of cardiopulmonary arrest or other cardiovascular emergencies. This includes personnel in emergency response, emergency medicine, intensive care, and critical care units such as physicians,nurses, and paramedics, as well as others who need an ACLS course completion card for job or other requirements.

What are the prerequisites for taking the ACLS Course?

Providers who take the ACLS Course must be proficient in the following:

  • Performing high-quality BLS skills according to the current AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC
  • Reading and interpreting electrocardiograms (ECGs)
  • Understanding ACLS pharmacolog

What resources are available to help prepare students for the ACLS Course?

The following ACLS resources are available to students at

  • Mandatory Precourse Self-Assessment
  • Precourse Preparation Checklist
  • Video Lessons (Precourse Work)
  • ACLS Supplementary Information

What is the ACLS Precourse Self-Assessment?

The Precourse Self-Assessment is an online tool that evaluates a student’s knowledge in 3 sections: rhythm recognition, pharmacology, and practical application. Students complete the assessment before the course to help evaluate their proficiency and determine the need for additional review and practice before the course. All students must complete the Precourse Self-Assessment and achieve a score of at least 70% before taking the ACLS Course. Students must print their successful scoring report and bring it with them to class.

Why is the ACLS Precourse Self-Assessment required?

Students need to make sure they are prepared for the ACLS Provider Course to minimize the risk of failing the course. Market research indicates a significantly favorable response from Instructors on making the Precourse Self-Assessment mandatory. The need for the mandatory Precourse Self-Assessment has increased due to more non-traditional students taking ACLS.

Will there be a printed version of the ACLS Precourse Self-Assessment? If not, why not?

The online Precourse Self-Assessment cannot be duplicated in a printed format since it measures knowledge gaps based on how students answer questions as they move through the assessment. A written version would not be able to adequately assess knowledge.

Course Materials:

What materials are available for the ACLS Provider Instructor-led Course?

Materials for the AHA's ACLS Provider Instructor-led training course are currently available through or WorldPoint (for some AHA Training Centers). Student Materials:
  • 20-1106 ACLS Provider Manual
  • 20-1120 ACLS Reference Card Set
  • 20-3100 ACLS Provider Manual eBook
  • 20-3109 ACLS Digital Reference Card

Course Content:

  • Basic life support skills, including effective chest compressions, use of a bag-mask device, and use of an AED
  • Recognition and early management of respiratory and cardiac arrest
  • Recognition and early management of peri-arrest conditions such as symptomatic bradycardia
  • Airway management
  • Related pharmacology
  • Management of ACS and stroke
  • Effective communication as a member and leader of a resuscitation team


  • ACLS Provider Manual (online access code included with course fee)
  • If you wish to purchase a hardcopy text, see registration form for details.
  • Online access to the AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC
  • Also Included: Online access to all manuals for 24 months following activation of course key code.

Pre-course Preparation:

As per the AHA guidelines all students MUST complete the following BEFORE attending the ACLS provider/renewal class.

  • Understand the 10 core cases on the Simulation Technology web based program manual.
  • Understand the ACLS algorithms for the core cases in the electronic version of the ACLS student manual.
  • Complete the ACLS written exam and pass with an 70%.
  • Print out the completion certificate and bring it with you to the on site portion of the ACLS course. Without this certificate you will not be allowed to participate in the on site ACLS portion of the course.

General Course Information

Course Policies:

A copy of the general course policies can be viewed by clicking here.


All instructors are approved by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Emergency Health Services.

Continuing Education Hours:

This continuing education activity is approved by UMBC, an organization accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Prehospital Continuing Education (CAPCE).

UMBC, as a requirement of CAPCE accreditation, will submit a record of course completions to the CAPCE AMS. Course completion records may be accessed by or shared with such regulators as state EMS offices, training officers, and NREMT on a password-protected need-to-know basis. In addition, students may review their record of CAPCE-accredited course completions by contacting CAPCE.


Early registration is encouraged to ensure space availability. Class size is limited to 24 students.

If you are a renewal, a current ACLS card must be submitted with your registration form.


Please check the individual registration forms for the fee.


All cancellations and request for refunds must be made in writing at least two weeks prior to the course start date. A $45.00 withdrawal fee will be charged. All tuition will be forfeited after that date.

A $45.00 fee will be charged for any returned check.

UMBC reserves the right to cancel any course due to insufficient enrollment. In the event of cancellation tuition will be refunded or transferred to another course date at UMBC's expense.

ACLS Logo AHA Authorized
All BLS, ACLS and PALS Courses at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County are taught according to standards of the American Heart Association, Maryland Affiliate, Inc.

The American Heart Association strongly promotes knowledge and proficiency in BLS, ACLS, and PALS and has developed instructional materials for this purpose. Use of these materials in an educational course does not represent course sponsorship by the American Heart Association. Any fees charged for such a course, except for a portion of fees needed for AHA course materials, do not represent income to the Association.