New 2023/2024 AHA Guidelines for Virtual CPR & BLS Courses

It’s 2023 and you can do a lot of things online. However, we all agree there are some things that just should be done in person. You would expect your car mechanic to have hands-on experience before working on your car, and the same goes for many professions. What about CPR, though? Can you take CPR online only? We’ll get discuss all the options and talk about what you need to know to make sure you get the right kind of certification. We also will explain the latest update to the AHA guidelines.

Can You Take CPR Online Only?

Yes, you can do most anything online. However, if you are needing a certification for school, work, or licensure these courses will 99.9% of the time not qualify. If you are looking for general knowledge, these online only courses can be a great way to learn without leaving the comfort of your home. However, because learning is best realized with hands on practice you can not complete a recognized CPR certification online only.

Online Only courses can be deceptive in trying to convince you they give ‘recognized’ certifications or follow AHA or Red Cross guidance, but they are not accredited by reputable bodies. It would be similar to watching Youtube Videos of Harvard classes and getting a certificate saying you attended a Harvard Class. Read more about these deceptive CPR certification courses here: How to Spot Fake CPR Certification.

Can I Take some of my CPR Class Online?

Yes! The American Heart Association offers blended learning training for layperson Heartsaver CPR & First Aid, Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). The blended learning has two parts, an online and physical skills portion. The online portion of these courses show you all the videos, has simulated practice modules, and testing. Once you complete the online training (Part 1), you will receive on online course completion certificate. To receive a certification, you next to need to attend a Blended Learning Skills Course (Part 2). There is an agenda specifically for this type of course that the AHA instructor will follow. You will have time to practice your skills and then perform skills testing with the instructor.

How do I schedule AHA Skills Testing?

You will need to find an AHA instructor in your area that offers the Part 2 of Online Blended Learning Training. For BLS, ACLS, and PALS these courses will likely be listed as Heartcode Skill Sessions or Blended Learning Training. For Heartsaver CPR & First Aid Training these courses will likely be listed as Heartsaver Skill Sessions or Blended Learning Training.

To search for courses in your area you can go to and browse instructors in your area. You can also request free quotes for training from the instructors in your area.

What do I need for the AHA Part 2 Online Blended Learning Skills Testing?

So like we mentioned, we are living in the future. We don’t yet have hovercars, but we are able to take classes in different formats. There are a couple of formats you could take this class in. You could be in person with an instructor, or virtual with an instructor.

In Person Skills Training

If you are taking in person training with an instructor, you will bring your certificate either printed or digital for the instructor to verify you completed the online course. The instructor should provide everything you else you need for the class.

ACLS and PALS skills training must be conducted in person. There is no virtual option for ‘Part 2’ of the Heartcode training for ACLS or PALS.

Virtual Skills Training

If you are taking Heartsaver CPR & First Aid or Heartcode BLS training, you will need to provide your online certificate to the instructor. They will verify this before administering the skills training.

For CPR skills testing, you will need to have:

  • a computer or phone with a high quality camera.
  • an adult CPR manikin with a feedback monitor
  • an infant CPR manikin
  • AED trainer
  • Adult & Infant Face Mask
  • One Way Valve
  • Adult & Infant Bag Mask (BLS Only)

For First Aid skills testing, you will need to have at minimum (your instructor may require more):

  • a computer or phone with a high quality camera.
  • Gloves
  • An Epi Pen
  • 1-2 sheets of 4×4 gauze
  • Roll Gauze

Is my certification different if I take the AHA online-blended course?

No matter how you take your course with the American Heart Association, there is only one type of certification issued. Your employer or school will not be able to tell what format you took the class in based on the certification. Below you will see an example of a BLS certification. You will notice it has a QR code for the employer to verify. All certifications can also be verified on the AHA eCard Verify Site.

If an employer tells you that you can not take a virtual or online course, they are probably doing so because of the numerous courses online that disguise themselves as AHA courses. These courses are easy to find online and have created a lot of confusion in the compliance industry. Typically, online courses posing as AHA courses will often tell you they will be ‘accepted by your employer or you’re money back.’ You should see that as a red flag!

Can I ‘Challenge’ a CPR course under the new AHA guidelines?

If you are asking this question, you are showing your age. (Sorry, but it’s true! You witnessed the emerging days of CPR guidance.) In 2015, the AHA discontinued ‘challenge’ courses. Because the ECCU (Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update) updates CPR guidelines every 5 years based on latest science, there have been changes in best practice. For this reason, AHA guidelines requires everyone to attend an instructor led or online blended course regardless of how many times they’ve been certified. For people who have been certified many times, the Online Blended Training can be a great option!

American Heart Association (AHA) Memo released on August 4, 2023:

The AHA is pleased to announce the creation of new guidelines for those AHA BLS Training Centers and Instructors who wish to continue offering a virtual skills option for BLS Provider Courses using HeartCode BLS. Effective September 1, 2023, BLS TCs and Instructors must follow guidelines for BLS virtual skills outlined in the document, “Training Memo: Instructor Guidelines for HeartCode BLS Virtual Skills.” This memo, along with new sample agendas and skills testing checklists that should be used when conducting virtual skills for BLS Provider courses, are posted on the BLS Instructor Resources page on Atlas (login required to view).

Also, as a reminder, effective September 1, 2023, there will be no allowance for virtual skills for advanced healthcare provider courses (ACLS, PALS, PEARS, ACLS EP) or new Instructor courses. Virtual training will remain an option for Heartsaver-level courses, following the guidance outlined in the current (2020 Guidelines) Heartsaver Instructor Manual.

Finally, please note that “virtual” does not apply to HeartCode Complete or RQI, since skills are completed in person with a feedback device.

What does this new guidance mean?

Essentially, training has gone back to the requirements prior to special exceptions being made for the pandemic. However, now CPR students may complete skills training virtually as well. To do so, they will need all the required equipment just as if they were in the instructors classroom. For this to work, they will either need to already have access to their own equipment or the instructor may ship it to them.

ACLS and PALS students may complete Heartcode Training Online but must complete Part 2 and test their skills in person with a physical instructor. There is no virtual skills testing option for these courses.

Watch: Most Common CPR Mistakes

Join Our Mailing List

Stay up to date on all things Vitali.

Vitali will be closed Dec. 25th for Christmas.

Vitali will be closed Jan 1st for New Years.

Our corporate office will be closed today due to inclement weather.