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4 misconceptions about online medical certifications


Learn the truth about four common misconceptions about the faster, easier, and most cost-effective way to certify.

When it comes to obtaining your required medical certification - whether it’s ACLS, BLS, PALS or CPR – your options are many. By now, you’ve probably already heard about receiving your medical certification online – after all, you wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t. 

Unfortunately, you’ve also probably heard a few of the many misconceptions about this type of training. Beyond the basic question of “is it legitimate,” some of these common misunderstandings may be weighing on your mind and holding you back from pursuing the faster, easier and most cost-effective way to certify.

To clear things up, we thought we’d round up a few of the most common misconceptions about certifying online and put them to rest once and for all. If you’ve ever heard any of the following statements, you’ll want to read on to learn the truth. 

AHA approval is required for all medical certifications

One of the biggest topics of conversation that arises when it comes to medical certifications in general is whether or not the program is considered “AHA approved.” The truth is, while online medical certification courses do not have AHA approval, they are still an entirely legitimate option.

Why? Because the AHA simply doesn’t approve certification courses. 

Many people believe the AHA (American Heart Association) is an organization that accredits/endorses courses and certification providers. They are not. 

The AHA themselves are the only provider of AHA Certifications. The AHA is not an accreditation organization for certifications, they are a provider of certifications. The fact is there is no such thing as “AHA Approved” or “AHA Accredited”. 

However, what you will see is that most online providers have written coursework that has been designed to be directly in line with the current AHA guidelines. AHA guidelines are considered the gold-standard for training centers to base curriculum. However, the AHA guidelines themselves are based on guidelines established by ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation), a group of organizations from across the world that work together to create standards for resuscitation technique and instruction.

So, in short, you do NOT need to take a course that is officially “AHA approved” in order to obtain your required medical certification. However, we do recommend checking with your employer just to make sure they do not have their own set of requirements. 

Skills assessments are mandatory

This is another big misconception with medical certifications. The fact is there are a number of old-fashioned employers and healthcare organizations that require a skill assessment to accept a medical certification. However, today most organizations do not have this requirement. 

Certifying online has been established as an effective learning medium even without a physical instructor and/or hands-on assessment. 

In reality, the right online coursework should be designed to cover all of the fundamental learning objectives. And provided that the material has been developed and designed by medical professionals, students should have no issue grasping the concepts and retaining the necessary information not only to pass the certification exam, but also to successfully and confidently apply those concepts and learning objectives in their day-to-day jobs.

Online certifications are easier

Some people are under the impression that taking an online certification course is much easier than taking an in-person course. While the learning medium may have some benefits in terms of making it easier on a student’s schedule or rate of learning, online courses adhere to the same rigorous standards and coursework as in-person courses. 

For someone that’s never taken an e-learning course before, the process can be intimidating. This is understandable, but certainly not something that cannot be overcome. The good news is, with certifying online; you aren’t under any type of pressure to get everything done quickly. To the contrary, you can move at your own pace. That means you can take your time going through the coursework and becoming familiar with the platform and how it works. However, depending on how you learn, this can be a double-edged sword, as learning online requires self-motivation and dedication to completing the coursework on your own.

Once you’ve become accustomed to the online program, you can review materials, study, take practice exams and even test anywhere, any time and from any device that is connected to the internet. In other words, you can squeeze some study time in on your lunch break at work using your smartphone. Or, you can bring your laptop to the nearest coffee shop and spend some time going over your algorithms. Or, you can log in from your home computer first thing in the morning or for a few minutes just before bed.

Since you have the ability to work at your own pace, you don’t have to worry about rushing through anything that you don’t understand. Just relax, take as much time as you need and then move forward when you feel comfortable enough to do so.

Employers do not accept online certifications

Last, but certainly not least, is the question of whether or not an employer will accept a medical certificate that is obtained through a course that is 100 percent online. We’ve already touched on this a bit in a previous point above, but we’ll go into it in a bit more detail here to set your mind at ease.

Most employers accept online certifications as long as the coursework is constructed by medical professionals and is in direct alignment with the AHA and ILCOR guidelines. 

In fact, ProMed found in 2017 that 97.2 percent of healthcare organizations accepted online certifications out of a sample size of more than 5,000 organizations across the United States. 

As a result, students can enjoy high-quality, evidence-based material and critical learning objectives that are necessary to pass the exam as well as apply the concepts in an employment environment through whatever learning medium they prefer. 

With online medical certifications, you’ll get the same, if not better coursework as you’d get if you chose the in-classroom option, but with the added benefit of flexibility and a more cost-effective price point.


Have you heard any of the above misconceptions before? Have they been stopping you from trying to get certified online? Hopefully we’ve demystified them enough to help you make a more informed decision. 

David England, MD, DO, is the Chief Medical Officer for ProMed Certifications. He has 20 years of experience as an Anesthesiologist. He has a DO in anesthesiology, a master's degree in physiology from Georgetown, and Bachelors of Science degrees in both biology and psychology. He currently works on staff at 8 hospitals and 6 Surgicenter’s in Arizona. He is also a trustee board member of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association and serves as the District 5 President. 

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