PACU Nursing Salary
Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Registered Nurses earn an average of $122,672/year as of 2021 according to Indeed. This doesn’t include overtime and other major factors such as traveler benefits & housing. Finding accurate data on Travel PACU RN Salaries is challenging because most sources don’t specify differences between travelers and staff positions. Additionally, location plays a huge role in PACU nurse average pay. The hospital system where you get your travel contract can affect your compensation. As is true in other nursing specialties if you have several years experience you may garner higher pay.
A career in PACU travel nursing is a great way for you to avoid nurse burnout. While the job is still very demanding, the variety of locations and facilities can help keep you fresh and motivated. It’s also a great way to sharpen your skills, gain crucial experience, and improve your resume.
To be successful working in the PACU (sometimes also referred to as the recovery room) you must be detailed-oriented, a skilled critical thinker, and a great communicator. Travel PACU nurses must be decisive, and able to function well in a fast-paced, team environment. Many post-op patients easily regain consciousness and stabilize, but PACU nurses must always be ready to identify and respond to any potential emergencies at this critical time for patients.
PACU nurses are there when patients begin to regain consciousness from anesthesia and they handle all aspects of care as patients begin their initial recovery from surgery. They carefully observe and monitor patients to ensure proper recovery from both the surgical procedure and the anesthesia. PACU RNs check vitals such as blood pressure, administer fluids, inspect surgical sites and dressings, provide blood if needed, begin pain management, help manage post-anesthesia nausea, and more. Outpatient PACU nurses often also provide patient instructions upon discharge.
The PACU team’s overall goal is to monitor post-surgical patients and stabilize patient vitals. PACU RNs do this with medication and fluids if necessary. They also initiate a pain control regimen and ultimately release each patient to another unit or discharge them.
Who Works in PACU?
Various healthcare professionals work in the PACU in order to serve the needs of PACU patients. As patients begin their initial recovery from a surgical procedure in the PACU, registered nurses provide much of the care in these units. PACU team members can include PACU RNs, physical therapists, anesthesiologists, and surgeons.
Who’s Treated in PACU?
All patients are typically admitted to the post-anesthesia care unit after receiving surgery and anesthesia. So, a variety of patients who’ve just completed a surgical procedure are treated in the PACU.
Some of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. typically include knee and hip replacements, fracture repairs, and heart bypass surgery. Other major surgical procedures include angioplasty, stent procedures, hysterectomies, gallbladder removal, appendectomy, cataract removal, C-sections, hernia repair, low back surgery, breast biopsies, debridement (wound, burn, infection), skin grafts, mastectomy, prostatectomy, partial colectomy, and tonsillectomy.
Quick PACU Facts
- Commonly required PACU RN education: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and/or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), plus passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
- Commonly required PACU certifications: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Commonly preferred PACU RN certifications: Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI), National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Commonly required experience to become a travel PACU RN: Facilities typically require a minimum of two years of recent, in-hospital experience in order to hire you as an PACU travel nurse. You’ll want the benefit of experience since travel nurses have to hit the ground running!