A career in travel nursing offers experienced perianesthesia nurses great opportunities to work in a variety of settings, live in exciting locales, and provide excellent care to patients who require surgery or medical procedures which require sedation.
The perianesthesia (PACU) nurse provides care in hospitals and out patient settings, such as ambulatory care and outpatient surgical centers. He or she ensures patient safety and comfort to patients recovering from anesthesia.
PACU Nurses provide direct care to patients who are waking up from anesthesia. They monitor the patient’s level of consciousness and vital signs. PACU nurses must be skilled in the use of central lines and a variety of infusion devises. The nurses care for patients at various levels of consciousness due to local, partial or complete sedation. They provide reassurance and education to patients and family members. Responsibilities include assessing patients, providing care to ventilator dependent patients, and monitoring dressings.
The PACU is a critical care patient specialty area. Patients may suffer from difficulty breathing, pain, nausea, emesis, fear, and agitation. Patients usually remain in the PACU until they are awake with stable vital signs.
Depending upon the facility, the PACU nurse works closely with respiratory therapists, surgeons, anesthetists and other nursing unit members. The nurse needs physical and mental stamina as much of the work involves standing and positioning patients who are unable to move independently. The PACU nurse needs to be a pain management expert. He or she needs to be quick thinking, responding to post operative emergencies.
The PACU nurse may provide care to patients who are confused and agitated due to disorientation from anesthesia. He or she must compassionately provide emotional support to family members.
Some PACU units specialize in a specific type of service, such as post surgical cardiac care. Others provide care to patients recuperating from a diverse range of procedures. Depending upon the facility, a PACU nurse may or may not provide care to newborns and pediatric patients. Some PACU nurses prefer to work in pediatric hospitals.
Depending upon the procedure and the individual needs of the patient, nurses discharge patients to home and other hospital units including medical surgical and intensive care areas.
If a patient is discharged home, the PACU nurse must ensure that the patient is awake, able to tolerate fluids, urinate and ambulate. The nurse provides instructions regarding post anesthesia care, dressings, activities, medications, diet to the patient and /or family. He or she must recognize and provide care if complications arise. The PACU nurse educates patients and responsible parties how to recognize post operative and post procedural signs and symptoms and instruct them how to intervene or obtain assistance.
PACU Nurses are required to have advanced training. Certification in basic and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) is required. Depending upon the facility, certification in pediatric advanced life support (PALS), may be required as well. Two types of voluntary certification are available for qualified registered nurses who have a minimum of two years (2400 hours) of recent clinical experience in the PACU setting. A nurse may be certified as a Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) or as a Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA). The American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc is the certifying body for both certifications. The exams are computer based and available throughout the United States. Accreditation of the programs is provided by the American Board of Nursing Specialties. Certification is awarded for a three year period Renewal requirements must be met for continued certification.
Working as a traveling PACU nurse provides nurses with opportunities to earn high salaries. The average PACU nurse salary is approximately $85000 per year. Travel nurses salaries are very competitive. They generally include outstanding benefit packages including health insurance. Often health insurance is available immediately upon starting an assignment. Compensation is often provided for travel, housing, and licensure. Multiple other benefits are available as well. Most companies arrange for corporate housing with desirable amenities. Gym facilities, pools, and many other conveniences are often available. For nurses who wish to make their own housing arrangements, a generous stipend is commonly offered.
The travel nurse is in an excellent position to negotiate with employers to create a salary and benefit package which is perfect for him or her.
Travel nursing offers PACU nurses from diverse backgrounds opportunities to expand their horizons. Many travelling nurses enjoy traveling as it provides them with opportunities to make new friends.
Young nurses and nurses seeking lifestyle changes often elect employment as travelers in order to investigate different regions of the country. They use travelling as an opportunity to determine if life in a small town or big city is more desirable.
Older nurses often choose to travel for similar reasons as younger nurses. If a nurse has grown children, travelling offers an excellent opportunity to experience adventures which were not previously available. A travel assignment may offer nurses the chance to accept a short term position close to distant children or grandchildren.
Some nurses choose locales based upon personal hobbies. A nurse may work in a town which offers skiing and then choose to head to sunny Florida for a few months.
Working as a PACU nurse who travels provides opportunities to “try on “different types of facilities without making long term commitments.
PACU nurses are in demand for travel positions across the country. Most positions are for thirteen weeks. Shorter assignments are sometimes available. Often, if the match between the traveler and the facility is a good one, a completion bonus or an assignment extension is available.
PACU nurses who wish to travel are usually required to possess a minimum of one year’s experience as a PACU nurse. Orientation for travelling nurses is often short. The nurse is expected to be qualified to start work quickly. Travelling nurses are generally guaranteed full time hours. Opportunities for additional hours may be available.