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The AHA Heartcode model of courses became increasingly relevant and valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Heartcode model has the student take the entirety of what is traditionally referred to as “the course” on-line in their own time in their own space. In this way, the contact time of the in-person skills session was limited to only practical skills practice and testing.

The Heartcode option continues to be an excellent system for renewing experienced providers. The Heartcode is an adaptive learning system, meaning that the more you get right, the less you have to do. If you can demonstrate cognitive mastery, then the minimum set of videos is presented to you.

CSRE does not recommend the Heartcode model for initial students of any discipline. The information presented is excellent, however it is non-interactive and therefore questions a student has cannot be answered “during the course”.


  1. Adaptive learning makes the course quick for experienced providers.
  2. The course can be taken when time allows, at the pace of the student. It is an enter-exit-resume system.
  3. There is the minimum amount of time in-person.


  1. As there is no instructor interaction during the course, difficult topics can be hard to master.

Traditional Instructor Led Training

When you think about an AHA Course, you will instinctively arrive at what is termed now the ‘Traditional Instructor Led Training’. This format of course has the student in-person with the instructor for the full duration of the course.

During the in-person instruction, videos will be presented (BLS and HeartSaver approximately 2 hours each, ACLS and PALS approximately 8 hours each), skills will be practiced and tested, and a written exam will be proctored. Also, in almost every circumstance, the Traditional Instructor Led Training is the most time-intensive and structured.


  1. Most time with an instructor present.
  2. Structures the class for those who do not have self-pacing discipline.
  3. Ensures that the entirety of the course material is always presented, viewed, and understood.


  1. BLS and HeartSaver courses require 4-5 hours in person, ACLS classes require 1-2 days, PALS classes require 1-2 days.
  2. There is no way to reduce class time with prior knowledge.

Instructor Led Training with Precourse Work

As noted above, a great deal of time in the Traditional Instructor Led courses is spent watching videos. The precourse work option helps to remove the videos from the in-person time, thereby reducing the time dramatically.


  1. Precourse work allows the student to watch videos on their own time.
  2. Precourse work allows the student to rewatch any videos that they need to, as many times as they need to.
  3. The precourse work ensures that every student in the class has watched the same videos, at least once.
  4. The in-person time can be spent discussing any questions from the videos and practicing skills.


  1. More in-person class time that the Heartcode
  2. Each student must watch all videos to get credit for the precourse work; you cannot reduce this time with prior knowledge.


With this, you still may be asking “But which course delivery format is right for me?”

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