In order to become certified in pediatric advanced life support (PALS), a healthcare professional must take a PALS certification course and pass a written exam as well as a hands-on skills validation test. Here are some tips to consider while studying the PALS guidelines (2010) and protocols to ensure success on your exam.
Make the most of your study time
It’s not just what material you study or how much time you spend studying that matters; when and how you study are also important factors in learning course material. Here are a few things to consider:
- Study in shorter, broken-up segments. Studying for 20-50 minute periods with 5-10 minute breaks in between is the best way to remain focused and make the most of your study time.
- Study during the day. An hour of studying during the day is worth two hours of studying at night. When possible, it’s best to work on material that requires the most focus earliest in the day.
- Review early and often. Cramming right before your exam isn’t an effective way to retain information. Review notes and class material on a regular basis leading up to your exam. Constant review of material will help with memorization and understanding important concepts.
Use mnemonic devices to remember PALS guidelines
A mnemonic device is a learning aid used to remember lists or important facts about a given subject, typically using the first letter of multiple items to create a word or phrase. Mnemonic devices are helpful for the memorization of terms and protocols from the PALS guidelines. For example, SAMPLE is a mnemonic device commonly used to remember the steps of secondary pediatric emergency assessment in PALS protocol:
- Signs and symptoms
- Past medical history
- Last oral intake
- Events leading to this injury or illness
Make flash cards
The act of making flash cards requires you to use kinetic energy, which makes a stronger impression on the brain. Flash cards are also an effective way to learn terms through repetition and self-quizzing. Carry your flash cards with you so you can flip through them and study PALS guidelines anytime, anyplace.
It’s also important to note that reading flash cards aloud (active learning) is more effective than reading through them silently (passive learning). Flash cards can also be an effective studying technique for other healthcare certifications such as CPR, first aid, BLS or ACLS certification online.
Learn through repetition and association
While repetition is an important part of memorizing information, it’s also important to fully understand the concepts you’re studying. Associating and applying important terms to other concepts will help you gain a greater understanding of the material and make you more likely to recall the information during an exam.