The moment that the world wide web became accessible to average families, lives began to change. The days where Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen would drive house to house, pushing the need to have a complete reference set, disappeared because of our ability to find the answers FREE and instantly through search engines. The same changes are happening in healthcare CPR training and instruction. Distance learning is exactly what it says it is …distant. Whether some of these changes are due to busy lives or to a huge “personal bubble”, they are happening.
Do a Google search for ‘online CPR training’, and you will find a host of businesses offering CPR training online for half the cost of traditional CPR classes. With these classes, there is no need to leave the comfort of your home or office, you save money, and supposedly you have the certification you needed virtually immediately. Online courses are offered for personal trainers, coaches, teachers, professional nurses and other healthcare providers. That being said, there are two important questions that need to be answered: What real purpose do online CPR certifications serve and are online CPR certifications legitimate? Let’s start with the latter.
There are specific fields of work regulated by state or federal guidelines. For example, Wisconsin chiropractors are required to have a CPR AED certification, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has a list of approved providers that chiropractors and other licensed professionals can choose from. Included in this list is the American Heart Association, with a paragraph under the list of providers that states, paying attention to the first two words:
Any course offered by the above providers that includes the following is approved by this department to fulfill the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) training objectives for persons who are required, as a condition of licensure, certification, or registration to be proficient in CPR or in the use of an AED.
'Any course' is the key to the above reference, because it means that any courses offered by the American Heart Association, including blended courses, meets the states requirements. I brought up Wisconsin chiropractic CPR certifications specifically because of an email conversation I had with an Illinois chiropractor that is licensed in Wisconsin as well. The chiropractor asked me if I would be able to help him renew his CPR certification to keep his Wisconsin license valid.
Seeing as Healthline First Aid is growing in the CPR market, I wanted to take this opportunity work with the chiropractor, as well as promote local businesses. As an American Heart Association instructor, there are several blended CPR courses I teach. I felt the Heartsaver CPR AED course would work perfect for the chiropractor’s needs, because these courses combine online cognitive training with hands-on skills practice and testing, and at the same time offering increased flexibility to the client and instructor. Shortly after emailing my recommendation to the chiropractor, I received an email saying “Unfortunately I need a hands-on course. Wisconsin requires it to be in person training”.
If an employer or profession requires a CPR certification in an unregulated field, that employer has the ability to accept any CPR certification they deem acceptable, including online certifications. My client was right though, Wisconsin does require in person training for chiropractors, and a CPR course that is entirely online would not meet those requirements, but the blended Heartsaver CPR AED course offered by the American Heart Association is the exact same certification he would receive in a traditional class because there is a hands-on, in person portion. Like I mentioned above, the blended option allows the client to do the lecture portion of the class online anywhere there is an internet connection. The instructor lead skills practice and testing is very flexible to schedule with less classroom time commitments, but still allows the client to practice and demonstrate the skills they need, which meets the states requirements for “in person training”.
It is easy to see what purpose the blended option serves, but what purpose does a completely online CPR certification serve? As a healthcare professional, I would say there is no purpose. Past clients have shared with me their experience of spending $20-$35 for a certification, only to have their school or employer tell them that their certification is not valid; which means spending more money for the class they should have taken the first time. A large health club franchise recently contacted Healthline First Aid, asking if we would be able to train 200 plus members of their staff, which we could. The manager that contacted me stated that Wisconsin and Illinois require first aid and CPR certification, and it was originally at the employees expense, but because the club recommended a completely online CPR certification, the club was now paying for all those employees to get certified again, but in a state approved course.
More importantly though, isn’t the goal of taking a CPR class to be able to properly perform CPR? The skills learned in a CPR class may need to be used on a friend or family member, and watching an online video with no hands-on practice means performing inadequate CPR. Yes, any CPR is better than no CPR, but proper CPR will give that friend or family member the best chance of survival.