Quick Facts :
Perianesthesia Nurse

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon ADN or BSN
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth

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What Is a Perianesthesia Nurse?

The application of anesthesia makes it possible to perform invasive and painful surgical procedures that would otherwise be impossible without a patient under sedation.  Anesthesia typically renders a patient unconscious and often results in amnesia, which allows the patient to undergo surgery without experiencing or remembering any pain.

Medical professionals, including anesthesiologists, CRNA’s and perianesthesia nurses are responsible for the care of patients who are undergoing or recovering from anesthesia. They are tasked with the medical management of the patient, including the monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, lung performance, and the balance of body fluids – in order to keep the patient safe and comfortable.

Given the complexity and sensitivity of the body’s systems, a perianesthesia nurse must be equipped with the skill and knowledge to address critical medical emergencies during and after surgery. They must be able to remain calm and act decisively in situations where seconds matter.

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 exam 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.

Additional Resources for Perianesthesia Nurses