Anesthesia is one of the oldest and most important specialties in medicine. It’s anesthesia that makes it possible to perform surgical procedures. However, anesthesia also has its disadvantages. For instance, it can cause a number of uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effects, particularly when coming out of it.
For this reason, it’s very important that medical professionals be present until patients completely come out of anesthesia after a procedure. In most cases, the medical professionals present during this time are perianesthesia nurses.
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What is a Perianesthesia Nurse?
A perianesthesia nurse is a nursing professional that cares for and monitors patients that are coming out of anesthesia and sedation. Some of the side effects that patients may experience as they are coming out of anesthesia include nausea and disorientation. In some rare cases, patients may also experience respiration problems or adverse reactions.
Although a career as a perianesthesia nurse may seem dull in comparison to other nursing careers, perianesthesia nurses must be able and ready to handle medical emergencies at all times. They should be able to keep calm and act quickly in the even of a medical emergency. Level-headedness and quick decision making during these stressful times can often mean the difference between life and death for some patients.
Because anesthesia is one of the oldest medical specialties and as prevalent as ever today, perianesthesia nurses will typically have no problems finding employment. Nurses in this specialty will always be in demand, as long as anesthesia is still being used in our medical facilities.
What do Perianesthesia Nurses Do?
The main responsibility of a perianesthesia nurse is to monitor patients who are recovering from anesthesia and medical procedures. To do this, they will regularly monitor and record patients’ vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and respiration rate. They will also watch for any adverse reactions to the anesthesia.
Once patients start coming out of anesthesia, they will often be somewhat confused or disoriented. Perianesthesia nurses will talk to these patients in an effort to help them understand or remember where they are and why. In some cases, anesthesia patients will become very upset or agitated, and it is the perianesthesia nurse’s job to calm these patients down.
Perianesthesia nurses will also help patients with other possible side effects of anesthesia. For instance, they will often treat patients who are nauseous or vomiting.
Because anesthesia patients will often experience some pain once anesthesia starts to wear off, perianesthesia nurses will also help patients manage their pain. To do this, they may consult with doctors or surgeons and administer pain medications through intravenous lines.
In some rare cases, patients may have adverse reactions to anesthesia. If these reactions are not addresses and treated immediately, they could be life threatening. Because of this, perianesthesia nurses must be skilled and knowledgeable in a number of lifesaving procedures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation.
Finally, a perianesthesia nurse will often make the call as to when a patient is ready to be moved from the recovery room. If patients are being discharged to go home after their procedures, perianesthesia nurses will ensure that they have transportation. They will also give them aftercare instructions and advice for dealing with any remaining affects of the anesthesia.
Where do Perianesthesia Nurses Work?
The majority of perianesthesia nurses work in hospital recovery wards. However, outpatient facilities that perform same day procedures will also usually hire perianesthesia nurses as will sedation dental practices.
How do I Become a Perianesthesia Nurse?
The first step toward becoming a perianesthesia nurse is becoming a registered nurse (RN). To do this, you will need to earn a nursing degree or diploma and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Certification can be obtained through the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc. Eligibility to sit for the certification examination requires that you have at least 1,800 hours of experience dealing directly with patients in a perianesthesia setting. You must have gained this experience within the two years prior to taking the certification examination.