SICU vs PACU

  1. Hi everyone.

    I've been a nurse for about a year and a half now. Since graduating I've been working on an LTAC. I've been looking for something more challenging like critical care. I am so excited to say that I've been offered a position at the same hospital (a level 1 trauma center) for both a PACU and a SICU RN position! Both jobs sound great and it seems like I will be challenged and learn a ton from both, anybody have any advice or insight about either position? I'm leaning more towards SICU but would love to hear from others if they work on these units or have made transfers! Thanks!
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  2. Visit RockstarRN16 profile page

    About RockstarRN16

    Joined: May '18; Posts: 2; Likes: 1
    from OH , US

    4 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    Do they have similar schedules or hours? I don't think that should be a deal maker or breaker. I'd go with what you're "leaning towards".

    Having SICU experience will enable you to more easily transfer to other units, even PACU, if you get tired of SICU.
  4. by   RockstarRN16
    I currently work nights; SICU is a night position which I like but working at the PACU would mean switching to days. Weekends and number of shifts are the same but the schedule isn't much of a problem. just wondering what other nurses can tell me about each if possible.

    I also think you are right, I should go toward the one my brain is telling me to, I've just always been slightly indecisive.
  5. by   brownbook
    They are both great, can be very intensive, critical care learning opportunities.

    SICU you will be 8, or 12, hours with the same one or two patients. Monitoring IV drips, doing various treatments, caring for intubated patients, chest tubes, etc.

    PACU you will usually have the patient for only 1 hour. They can be critically ill, on vents, and drips also. Some hospitals send critically ill patients straight from the OR to the SICU, or ICU, bypassing PACU.

    Anyway, as I posted, working in SICU will give you the knowledge and skills to transfer to many other units later on.
  6. by   Mavrick
    If you are still learning to care for critical patients, I DO NOT recommend going to the PACU (assuming you're talking about an inpatient PACU). You will not have one patient for an hour. Most PACUs require the nurse to accept a second patient after the first patient has met criteria for airway. You are expected to handle any airway emergency immediately and before the anesthesiologist gets there.

    Your critical care experience is what will serve you in being a contributing member of the PACU team. Your buddies will help you out but you have to assess your own patients and determine if you need help and to ask for it. PACU looks easy because the good PACU nurses prevent trouble that will put a patient in ICU.

    Oh yeah and you can get some critical patients. The predictable ones do go straight to the ICU. (Thank goodness) because most PACUs are not staffed for a lengthy stay or a 1:1 patient for very long.

    And don't forget call. It's just you and one other PACU nurse. The OR nurse and Anesthesiologist move on to the next case or go home.

    Better get some ICU experience then you will be a great PACU nurse.

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