Starting intravenous infusions -- IVs in medical shorthand -- is a skill you can't learn by taking an online certification course. It takes practice, whether on a real person or on a simulated arm, to learn how to start IVs. Many registered nursing students learn this skill during class; others spend a day with the hospital IV team to become certified. You can, however, take online certification classes that will document your general knowledge about IV therapy. Some states offer licensed practical nurses (LPNs) online IV certification courses.
What Online Classes Teach
Online IV classes teach participants about IV therapy, including why IV solutions are used, how to administer fluids, the different types of IV fluids and when to use them, handling fluid imbalances and recognizing and treating IV complications. Most IV certification courses also teach nurses about blood transfusions, including how to identify and match blood products as well as how to administer transfusions and recognizing complications.
You obviously can't reach into the computer and demonstrate your ability to hit any vein, anywhere, on the first stick. Many hospitals or staffing agencies will informally certify you to start IVs by having you start one or two while spending the morning with the IV team or the nursing supervisor.
Types of IV Certification Courses Online
There are no national certification courses or board of nursing-approved courses for IV therapy for RNs. Numerous private companies offer online courses with their own certification. Some offer state-approved courses for licensed practical nurses, who, unlike RNs, can't start IVs or hang IV medications in many states unless they become IV certified. An LPN who completes an online IV course will still need hands-on experience at her place of employment.
Specialty Certifications Online
Once you become a certified specialist in advanced IV techniques such as PICC lines -- peripherally inserted central catheters -- you can renew your certification online without having to demonstrate your skills. You will, in many cases, need to verify that you're currently active in this area; if you're not, you may have to attend a workshop to demonstrate your skills. Pharmacy technicians, who work with IV infusions but don't start IVs, can take an online certification course, but will still need to complete an onsite workshop to complete the course.
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