Making the switch from Med/Surge to PACU (maybe!)

  1. Hello all... I have been offered, well, not the position exactly, but a VERY good chance to obtain a position in my hospital's PACU. I have VERY much been looking to make a change.. having been a med/surge nurse for two years, and a med/surge tech on the same unit, for four years prior to that!

    So, before I really let the director of Surgery know that I'm interested... I have lots of questions. How many of you have gone from Med/Surge to PACU, and what was your impression? What is a typical shift like for a typical PACU nurse? What is a patient load for you? Do you just care for one patient at a time, until they are stable and ready to transfer to the floor?

    The actual ONE thing that is keeping me from JUMPING on this position is the hours... 11am to 7:30 pm, M-F. The M-F part is fine, as is working five days a week instead of just three. =) What I hate is those HOURS. Right now I work nights, 7p to 7a, and I'm very burned out on working night shift. I have been very much wanting a nice, *DAY* shift, M-F job. This isn't exactly what I wanted... but you know, I have to start SOMEWHERE. I am interested in PACU nursing but I know that an early day shift job isn't going to fall into my lap... I know I'll probably have to start with the later shift job. I just hate that this is going to interfere with my hobby of doing community theatre... no attending any rehearsals for some time.

    I REALLY want to try this, though!! What do you all think? Would it be worth the sacrifice? To have the chance to do THIS, and get the *heck* out of Med/Surge too? :wink2:

    Thanks!
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   sparrow99
    Iwould get a few years working in ICU before even considering working in pacu. if you are working in a general hospital you will need to take care of ventilator patients, arterial lines, swans etc. You will need to interperate ABGs and make snap decisions regarding respiratory decline etc. Good luck!
  4. by   sharann
    I think it all depends on the demographics of your hospital, how badly they need help in PACU, and if they have a thorough orientation program. You absolutely MUST be be able to read the heart monitors(take an EKG or tele tech course). You are required to have ACLS and sometimes PALS(if you do kids). How big is your hospital? I don't think I would discourage you especially with such a strong Med-Surg background which is valuable. The thing about the hours for work. You don't know how bad it can get until they hit you with the work all day, stay over then the call starts. On-call can be any time day or night. Those days/nights are not yours. Good luck!
  5. by   NurseCard
    I actually work in a community hospital with roughly.... 80 beds. I already have PALS because my floor requires nurses to have it, but do not have ACLS yet. Plan on taking the class in the first part of June. I expect that if I'm hired in the PACU, that I will have a pretty through orientation. I also HOPE that if the OR manager doesn't feel like I'm anywhere near qualified, that she won't hire me.

    For what it's worth, I know for a fact that our particular PACU employs nurses that were only floor nurses before they began working down there. One nurse worked on the same floor that I work on now, and had only been a nurse for about a year before getting the job in PACU. Another nurse worked on the medical floor for a little while, then I *think* worked on OB for a little while, then on to PACU.

    I understand the challenges ahead of me if I get this job. I know that I'll be on call about every 5th-6th weekend, and I think maybe one night a week. I know that even on the nights that I'm not on call, that it could be very late before I get to leave. I know that I'll be working with a lot of rather routine patients (lap chole's, T+A's, knee replacements, shoulder repairs, etc), but also I'll be working much more challenging cases.

    But I'm looking forward to the change, and to possibly finding my niche. =) I'm one of these nurses that really sees med/surge nursing as a stepping stone. I really want to move on to something more.. specialized.
  6. by   sharann
    Quote from RealNurseWitch
    I actually work in a community hospital with roughly.... 80 beds. I already have PALS because my floor requires nurses to have it, but do not have ACLS yet. Plan on taking the class in the first part of June. I expect that if I'm hired in the PACU, that I will have a pretty through orientation. I also HOPE that if the OR manager doesn't feel like I'm anywhere near qualified, that she won't hire me.

    For what it's worth, I know for a fact that our particular PACU employs nurses that were only floor nurses before they began working down there. One nurse worked on the same floor that I work on now, and had only been a nurse for about a year before getting the job in PACU. Another nurse worked on the medical floor for a little while, then I *think* worked on OB for a little while, then on to PACU.

    I understand the challenges ahead of me if I get this job. I know that I'll be on call about every 5th-6th weekend, and I think maybe one night a week. I know that even on the nights that I'm not on call, that it could be very late before I get to leave. I know that I'll be working with a lot of rather routine patients (lap chole's, T+A's, knee replacements, shoulder repairs, etc), but also I'll be working much more challenging cases.

    But I'm looking forward to the change, and to possibly finding my niche. =) I'm one of these nurses that really sees med/surge nursing as a stepping stone. I really want to move on to something more.. specialized.
    With a small hospital I think your chances of success are greater especially if the other PACU staff were non-icu initially. I think med-surg is a specialty (there is a certification exam). I also think that med-surg is a whole heck of a lot more difficult to learn than PACU. MS nurses do so much variety. PACU of course is a serious place to work, it IS an ICU as we have all the ICU patients before they do or we get theirs. When things go bad they go fast. Teamwork and dedication are the personality traits needed as well as the ability to "cater" a bit to patients. We like to be mommies and daddies in there.

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