PACU nurses work in the postanesthesia care unit of a medical facility. The PACU is a type of critical care unit where nurses and other medical professionals observe patients who are waking up from anesthesia. PACU nurses have many responsibilities, including the continuous monitoring of vital signs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a favorable employment outlook for all registered nurses, including those working in the PACU.
PACU nurse salary:
The salary of a PACU nurse depends on several factors, such as geographic location, years of experience, relevant certifications, and employer type. Travel nurses tend to make more than staff nurses due to their willingness to accept short-term assignments in high-need areas.
According to NurseFly data, a travel PACU nurse typically earns a gross average salary of $1,731 per week, but the weekly salary may be as much as $3,120, depending on the details of the assignment. Travel PACU nurses work an average of 37.6 hours per week, which means a PACU nurse may earn as much as $46.04 per hour. However, many PACU nurses do not work the standard 36 hours per week, and in some cases, they can be on call. An advantage of travel nursing is you are likely to receive tax-free stipends in addition to a base salary, increasing the total compensation for each assignment.
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Post Anesthesia Care Nurse FAQs
What are the best agencies for Post Anesthesia Care Nurse jobs?
The agencies on NurseFly that currently have the most Post Anesthesia Care Nurse jobs are American Mobile Healthcare (241), trustaff (198), and OneStaff Medical (188).
How Much Do Post Anesthesia Care Nurse Jobs Pay?
For jobs available on NurseFly as of Friday, September 18th 2020, the average weekly pay for Post Anesthesia Care Nurse jobs is $1,826, but can pay up to $3,149 per week. In 2020, Post Anesthesia Care Nurses jobs on Nursefly paid a gross average weekly pay of $1,822 per week working an average of 36 hours per week. This includes non-taxable compensation like living stipends, meal stipends, and housing which add up to an average value of $1,177 per week.
- min - $1,000
- avg - $1,826
- max - $3,149
What does a PACU nurse do?
Patients are usually asleep when they're transferred from the operating room to the PACU. When a patient arrives in the unit, nurses are responsible for hooking up the equipment used to measure heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs. PACU nurses are also responsible for administering pain medicines and checking surgical dressings.
Anesthesia causes some patients to experience nausea when they wake up, so PACU nurses frequently administer anti-nausea medications, also known as anti-emetics. A PACU nurse must be able to respond quickly any time a patient develops signs of postsurgical complications.
Where do PACU nurses work?
PACU nurses work in hospitals, surgical centers, and other types of medical facilities in the anesthesia recovery units for operating rooms and procedural areas
What skills make a good PACU nurse?
PACU nurses must possess strong assessment skills in case patients experience complications shortly after waking up from anesthesia. A PACU nurse must be able to accurately determine the status of each patient by inspecting surgical wounds and watching for subtle changes in respiratory rate and heart rhythm. Another major function is determining when a patient is ready to be extubated (taken off a breathing machine).
A PACU nurse must also have the skills necessary to respond to cardiovascular emergencies. Anyone who wants to work in a PACU is required to complete the Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification offered by the American Heart Association. Depending on the setting, some PACU nurses may also be required to complete Pediatric Advanced Life Support training.
Finally, skills related to pain assessment and pain control modalities are essential as PACU nurses are responsible for controlling post-op pain.
How to become a PACU nurse?
The initial steps to becoming a PACU nurse are the same as for any other nursing specialty: complete an accredited nursing program, pass the National Council Licensing Examination, and meet all other licensing requirements established by your state.
PACU nursing isn't an entry-level job, so the next step is to gain experience working as a registered nurse. When you're ready to transition to the PACU, check with your hospital's nursing administration to determine if you need to obtain the Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse Credential. To sit for the CPAN certification exam, you'll need at least 1,200 hours of direct clinical experience within the two years prior to applying.