BLS Recertification vs. Initial BLS Certification

Basic Life Support is designed to build confidence in performing CPR for Adults (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) with advanced airway, rescue breathing, foreign-body airway obstruction, and skills in effective team dynamics with a duty to respond. It teaches the crucial steps to perform a quick assessment and defibrillation, including using an Automated External Defibrillator. Before, most CPR and BLS training providers offered a shorter version of the initial BLS certification classes for people who wanted to renew their certification. It could often be completed in about half the time and was only for those who had a current BLS card that was about to expire soon. Not all BLS providers did their recertification this way, but both the American Red Cross and American Heart Association offered abbreviated classes for certification.

It’s different nowadays because the American Heart Association has discontinued that method since 2016. Today, they only offer one BLS certification course, and you need to take it both for initial certification and recertification. However, the American Red Cross still offers a shorter BLS course, but for recertification only.

What’s the Difference between BLS Certification and BLS Recertification?

The main difference between BLS certification and BLS renewal courses is the level of experience of the person getting certified. BLS renewal is usually done by a certified person who has already gone through training once and still holds a valid BLS card. On the other hand, initial certifications are generally for people who have never been certified before. Therefore, the coursework presented in these two trainings may or may not vary. 

Course Content

While the topics for BLS certification and recertification will be the same, the structure and depth of the course content will be slightly different. Generally speaking, healthcare professionals designed BLS recertification courses to be completed by someone who has been exposed to the material in the past. Therefore, BLS recertification courses will be a slimmed-down version of their initial counterparts. This is precisely why renewal classes require less time and are less expensive.

Costs

One of the critical differences between BLS certification and recertification is the cost of completing the certification course. If you plan to register with an online BLS certification provider, you can expect to pay around $50 to obtain your BLS certification. However, if you are just renewing your BLS certification, you will be able to pay considerably less. To save money, some BLS providers like CPR Select offer group training for both renewals and initial certifications.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) Credits

A variety of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, emergency medical providers, and other allied health personnel and medical professionals, must complete a certain number of continuing medical education credits each year. However, the exact credits required vary, depending on employers and whatever board governs and regulates their job. In most cases, initial certification in BLS will help you earn four CME credits, while recertification courses will only help you earn 2 CME Credits. 

Time Commitment

If it’s your first time taking a BLS certification course, you can expect to spend about 4-5 hours studying the training materials and completing the actual certification exam, which generally comes in a multiple-choice format. On the other hand, you can complete a BLS renewal class in about half the time or about 2-3 hours. 

Where to Get BLS Certification and Recertification?

Many reputable health organizations and training centers, aside from the American Heart Association, provide BLS courses. Some offer a different course for BLS certification and recertification, while others use the same course. In addition, many providers stay compliant with the American Heart Association guidelines for content and training materials. So even if your recertification course is different from the AHA’s classes, you’re still learning and reviewing similar content.

To get BLS recertification, you must have a valid BLS card. If you’ve let your card expire, most providers will ask you to complete the entire initial certification course again. Both the Red Cross and AHA have made some progress in incorporating online learning and blended learning format into their programs. These days, both organizations let you get certified and renew your BLS card either through an instructor-led course or online courses. However, if you choose the online option, other providers will still require you to take an in-person skills session or skills testing before getting your BLS certification card.

Online BLS Certification/Recertification

Basic Life Support procedures, standards, and teaching guidelines change as the American Heart Association for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Emergency Cardiovascular Care, and ILCOR science research new methods to optimize a victim’s chances of survival. These updates are worked into initial BLS training and are conveyed in BLS renewal training, making it essential for healthcare providers to stay current. Additionally, as confidence and experience are not problems with many healthcare providers, these updates could be effectively conveyed through an online medium. While the process of ensuring the quality of training is still being explored, some unique approaches have already emerged. 

Plenty of respected health organizations and AHA training centers offer both BLS certification and certification renewal entirely online. This includes programs like we have at CPR Select that are compliant with the American Heart Association guidelines and use highly qualified, trained instructors. So you’re not missing out on quality by looking outside the American Heart Association or American Red Cross for your training. Our online courses feature a self-paced online training module, so it’s perfect for experienced healthcare providers because of their work schedules, and they cannot get a day off easily. 

Key Takeaways

Basic Life Support skills are significant for many individuals practicing within the medical field/ healthcare field and various other professional fields. Here are some key takeaways from this post.

  • The main difference between BLS certification and renewal courses is the level of experience of the person getting certified.
  • The structure and depth of the course content for BLS certification and recertification will be slightly different.
  • BLS recertification is more affordable, easier to complete, and will not require as much time. 
  • Initial certification in BLS will help you earn four CME credits, while recertification courses will only help you earn 2 CME Credits. 
  • BLS completion card holders must renew their certification every two years. 
  • Plenty of respected health organizations and AHA training centers offer both BLS certification and certification renewal entirely online.

The appropriate training depends on a wide variety of factors, such as schedule, certification requirements of your employer, and what you’re hoping to get. If you want to get certified in BLS or you need to renew your CPR provider card, you may check out CPR Select, the leading online BLS certification provider in the United States. We offer online certification courses and renewal classes in Basic Life Support.