Your Ultimate Guide to PALS Acronyms

The ultimate list of PALS acronyms you’ll need to know, both now and throughout your medical career.

Your Ultimate Guide to PALS Acronyms

One of the most challenging things about becoming certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is the number of things you need to commit to memory. In addition to the various techniques, medications and dosages, there are also a significant number of acronyms you must memorize.

These abbreviations were designed to help medical professionals better understand how to put PALS protocols into practice quickly during an emergency situation.

For some, memorizing these abbreviations may seem like an impractical and downright impossible feat. Sure, some of them might come easily, but others that are less common can become a stumbling block when studying.

And even if you do manage to memorize them all, what happens once you’re working in the field?

How will you possibly recall to mind all of those acronyms – especially the ones you use infrequently or haven’t yet had to use at all?

It’s only natural to forget things that we don’t deal with on a regular basis.

That’s why having a comprehensive list accessible to you at all times can literally be a life saver.

When it comes to life-threatening medical situations, every second counts and there is little room for error.

If you don’t know something off the top of your head, it’s imperative that you can find that information quickly.

Having a list of all the important PALS acronyms you’ll need to know in your career can be incredibly beneficial – both to you as well as to your patients.

On a less dramatic note, having a list like this can also be tremendously helpful when it comes to passing your PALS certification (or recertification) exam.

Keeping a resource like this handy will enable you to allocate your time more efficiently so you can optimize the studying and test-taking process.

The goal should be to memorize them, but to also be adequately prepared just in case you don’t. That being said, to follow are all of the PALS acronyms you’ll need to know, both now and throughout your career.

PALS Acronyms You Need to Know

ABCD | Airway, breathing, circulation, differential diagnosis
ABCDE | Airway, breathing, circulation, disability, exposure
ACLS | Advanced Cardiac Life Support
AED | Automated external defibrillator
AHA | American Heart Association
ALS| Advanced life support
AV | Atrioventricular
AVPU | Alert, verbal, pain, unresponsive
BLS | Basic Life Support
BP | Blood pressure
BPM | Beats per minute
CAB | Circulation, airway, breathing
CHF| Congestive heart failure
CPR | Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
CT | Computed tomography
ECG | Electrocardiogram
ECPR | Extracorporeal CPR
ED | Emergency Department
EMS | Emergency medical services
EMT | Emergency medical technician
ET | Endotracheal
FDA | Food and Drug Administration
GCS | Glasgow Coma Scale
GI | Gastrointestinal
ICU | Intensive care unit
IHCA | In-hospital cardiac arrest
IN | Intranasal
IM | Intramuscular
IO | Intraosseous
IV | Intravenous
LMA | Laryngeal Mask Airway
LV | Left ventricle
mA | Millaperes
MAP | Mean arterial pressure
MI | Myocardial infarction
NIH | National Institutes of Health
NPA | Nasopharyngeal airway
OHCA | Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest
OPA | Oropharyngeal airway
PAD | Public Access Defibrillation
PALS | Pediatric Advanced Life Support
PE | Pulmonary embolism
PEA | Pulseless electrical activity
PETCO2 | Partial pressure of end-tidal carbon dioxide
PSVT | Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia
PVCs | Premature ventricular contractions
pVT | Pulseless ventricular tachycardia
ROSC | Return of spontaneous circulation
RRT | Rapid response team
RV | Right ventricle
SBP | Systolic blood pressure
SPAM | Signs/symptoms, past medical history, allergies, medications
SVT | Supraventricular tachycardia
TCP | Transcutaneous pacing
TTM | Targeted temperature management
VF / V-Fib | Ventricular fibrillation
VT | Ventricular tachycardia

PALS Acronyms Study Tips

Studying for your PALS certification exam is similar to studying for any test.

It can certainly be demanding, but if you apply the right strategies, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task.

Here are a few tips from our experts on how to best prepare for and pass the PALS exam.

  • Study just one or two acronyms each day. If you overdo it and try to cram everything at once, you’ll have a much more difficult time committing them to memory. Remember - slow and steady wins the race.
  • Write down and/or draw the algorithms repeatedly. This process of writing and repetition has been shown to help some people memorize material better. Give it a shot.
  • Take regular breaks when studying. Again, cramming is never a good idea. Instead, taking regular breaks at various intervals can help keep your mind fresh and improve the results of your study efforts.

  • Vary where you study. When you feel as though you’ve hit the wall and cannot comprehend the material anymore, it can be helpful to change the location where you are studying. Sometimes a different atmosphere can clear your head and help you refocus your efforts once again. Try hitting the local coffee shop or library.
  • Study with others. Working in groups with other students can be highly effective for comprehending the study material. Get together with colleagues who are also working toward their PALS certification and help each other out.
  • Take practice tests. Take advantage of the tools and resources available to you from your PALS provider – in particular, practice tests. These tests are specifically designed to simulate the actual PALS exam and taking them can help you better prepare for the real thing when the time comes.
  • Teach others what you’ve learned. Like rewriting, reiterating the PALS algorithms that you’ve learned aloud to others can be a highly effective way to memorize the materials. It can also give you confidence that can help make passing the test easier.

It’s important to keep in mind, also, that everyone learns differently.

If you’re not yet familiar with how you learn best, experimenting with different study tactics can be helpful.

For instance, you might find that verbal cues are more effective than written ones when studying.

Figure out what works for you and then stick with it.

And remember to keep the above list of acronyms handy so you can refer to it, both while you’re testing as well as when you’re working in the field.

Are you signed up for our PALS Certification course? Doing so is quick, easy and affordable.

Other resources to help you pass your PALS certification exam: