As a doctor working in the hospital, you will very likely need to be certified in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS). (The link will bring you to my personal method of studying for ACLS on the cheap.) If you’re “lucky,” you’ll also have to be certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Since you’re here, I’m assuming you’re among the lucky ones … like me.
A good amount of PALS overlaps with that of ACLS. So if you have not completed any of them yet, you should start out with ACLS.
Like how I studied for ACLS, I only used two resources for PALS:
The first resource is a series of YouTube videos. They are high quality, concise, and best of all … free.
The second resource is an PALS review book from Amazon. The e-book is extremely affordable and will cover whatever isn’t covered in the videos. (If you don’t have a Kindle device or a Kindle app, you can use the Kindle Cloud Reader. All you need to use the reader is an internet browser.)
I deviated from what most people did. My residency did not provide study materials. I had to either borrow the official PALS book from the library or find my own resource. Since I like to march to the beat of my own drum, I opted to find my own … on the cheap!
(It worked out! Just as I passed ACLS on the very first try, I passed PALS on the very first try.)
Resource #1 – Videos
Not only will I embed the videos onto this page, I will also include the most important information you should learn from each video. Take about 2 hours and go through the videos. Compare your notes to mine. And by the end, you will not only memorize the high-yield information … you will also understand it.
PALS 1: Introduction
– in adults, cardiac arrest predominant
– in kids, asphyxial arrest predominant (look for signs of respiratory failure: change in respiration rate, increase in respiratory effort, cyanosis) –> shock
– systolic blood pressure = 70 + 2 (age)
PALS 2: Airway
– 1 person: 30 compression to 2 breaths
– 2 people: 15 compression to 2 breaths
– good overview of different airway devices
PALS 3: Monitoring And Access
– end tidal CO2
- spontaneous circulation: 30 – 40
- good CPR: 20
- bad CPR: < 10
– IO recommended over IV
– drugs you can give through endotracheal tube (LEAN)
PALS 4: Drugs (part 1)
- 1st: 0.1 mg / kg (max 6 mg)
- 2nd: 0.2 mg / kg (max 12 mg)
– amiodarone: 5 mg / kg (can repeat twice – max 300 mg per infusion)
– atropine: 0.02 mg / kg (min: 0.1 mg, max: 0.5 mg)
– epineprine: 0.01 mg / kg (max 1 mg)
– rule for 50 for glucose (starts at 7:30)
PALS 5: Drugs (part 2)
PALS 6: Pulseless Arrest
– like ACLS algorithm, except dose on drugs are different (see notes on PALS 4)
PALS 7: Bradycardia
– know algorithm
~ unlike adult algorithm, CPR is needed!
PALS 8: Tachycardia
– know algorithm
– SVT rate: > 220 (infants), > 180 (children)
Important tip! You should know the following drugs, when they are used, and their doses.
– epinephrine (VF / pulseless VT / PEA / asystole / bradycardia)
– amiodarone (VF / pulseless VT)
– adenosine (tachycardia)
Resource #2 – PALS Review Book
After you have gone through the videos, go through the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Provider Handbook by Dr. Karl Disque.
The book covers the important things, without bogging you down with low-yield, nitpicking details. Unlike the official book, this one is a review book. Therefore, it should take you only a few hours to get through it. (Personally, it took me 5 hours to finish it from cover to cover.)
There is one downside to the book you should be aware of. A lot of the algorithms are very small in size. You may have to squint your eyes to read it.
Nevertheless, these are minor faults. The book is still a great deal at $2.99, especially compared the official book at $49+.
How to Pass the PALS Exams with Flying Colors
Go through the videos and the review book once. You will develop an understanding of PALS. Pay attention during the live lessons. You will know what to focus on for the exam. Spend just a little effort follow my instructions and you should have no problem getting certified, even if you never seen the materials before in your life.
This article is part of the How to Survive Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about surviving academic hell.