Tell me more about PACU nursing

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    Let me tell you a "little" about myself first. I am a nurse of 9 years, not long but long enough I started off working on an inpatient surgical unit, I worked there for 5 years. It was good work and gave me the basis for my nursing career. In addition to that full time job I took a position in an outpt. Oral Surgery center, doing the basic pre-op, post-op, recovery for healthy patients. I became tired of the same old beside nursing and needed a challenge. I moved to the Critical Care unit/ICU, as I had dreams of becoming a CRNA. Well, I had all intentions of getting that year under my belt and leaving, but the job thought otherwise. I fell in love, I truly loved ICU nursing, everything about it, even the dreaded GI bleeders!! I could have the worst day and still say I loved my job, my heart belonged to ICU nursing.

    I have always been a hard worker and pushed myself to learn more and do more, so I started doing some adjunct teaching for a local college in their nursing department. I had a passion for the ICU and everything in it and it translated to educating new students/nurses. I taught clinicals, labs and did skills check-offs, precepted other students and new employees. I did not have any intention on leaving or going back to school any time soon. Then, bam! Well not bam, 10 years of trying everything possible to get pregnant and there I was, pregnant. Not just any routine pregnancy, no, the kind of the high-risk variety. I began having complications early, at about 5 weeks. Now most docs wouldn't do much, as what can you do at that stage, but as I said 10 years in the making! So, off to light-duty then eventually some bed rest and then eventually pulled from my job all together. I was unable to lift or be on my feet for extended periods of time so my fantastic ICU job was out of the question.

    Well, as I have described above I not the type of person that can just sit by for 9 months and do nothing. I couldn't imagine being on disabililty for 9 months so, I begged my manager to find me some sort of desk job, any job, just something to do. Well I fell into a position in heart services, catagorized under the cath lab. It is doing pretty mundane work abstracting info about MIs and PCIs, then entering the data in registries. Wow, from excitement to blah in one felt swoop! But, I knew it would only be temporary as I would have my baby then back to the ICU I would go.

    But wait a minute, I worked so hard, for so long to get this wonderful baby. I had people whispering in my ears if you want to keep the job it is yours. Well, the job is boring but the perks, come and go as you please, set your own hours, no nights/weekends or holidays, how could I pass that up. Plus, daycare, how was I to find daycare for a baby who's mom worked all sorts of funky hours and his dad didn't get off till 11pm. I was hooked, I could experience my baby's first holidays and always be home to put him to bed or get up with him when he is sick in the night (which he has been twice). I was suckered in, I agreed to keep the position, give up $3/hr, and the best, most exciting job I have ever had, plus my goal of going back to school, for my baby. I never thought I would have a baby, as disappointment after disappointment and year after year passed, but here I was, a mommy with a desk job.

    That was this past year, I never got a proper farewell to my beloved job and it has haunted my dreams since my last day. I seriously dream about it and what I could have been, once or twice a week. So that leads me to this board. I was job hunting as I frequently do now a days. I ran across this job for a PACU nurse, day shift, every 9th weekend on call, one holiday a year, now that sounds too good to be true, or is it? Will I like PACU nursing, I mean I have recovered patients in the ICU? That's where I need your help, if anyone is still reading my book, what do you like/love about what you do? For those that have worked in an ICU, what is similar? I have applied for this position, if I get an interview, what questions should I ask or would you ask in an interview? Thank you so much for listening. I guess I don't get to talk to many people about my passion and with my loss of this recently it is hard and I had a lot to say.
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    I have worked PACU for 12 years. I came from the ER which I truly loved but hated everyother weekend and working holidays. I then started floating to the PACU and finally took the step and never looked back. I have been a charge nurse in PACU for 9 years. The best PACU nurses either come from ICU or ER. PACU was kind of the best of both places. You have to use your critical skills to identify the problem and then move quickly. What I liked about the ER was the variety of patients you got from minor to critical. You can get easy recovery patients and then very difficult. Then you can get that simple D & C that starts bleeding heavily and needs to reutrn to surgery. What I did like about the schedule was you were ON Call about every 6th weekend and usually there was always a nurse who wanted to take your call for extra money. I have 1 nurse that went 9 months without a weekend because he kept giving his call away. Unsure how big your hospital is or if the PACU is a staffed 24/7 or if it is a Level 1 or 2 trauma center. The first Christmas I was on call at my PACU I didn't get called in until 11pm Christmas night for a post tonsillor bleed. Most of our surgeons don't want to work on Holiday's so they will only operate if it is a true emergency. I have 1 nurse that has been there 11 years and has never worked a Christmas because she too found someone to cover her call.There are times when call can be really bad too and you are recovering patients for 16-17 hours straight. I was fortunate in my unit that we always had in house candidates so we sort of knew their history. People I interviewed I wanted them to be upfront about their reason for coming to PACU and a lot of staff wanted to for family reasons because kids had weekend activities or were involved in their house of worship and missing 1 weekend every 6-8 weeks was better than missing everyother weekend. Also the fact of being home most holidays. Good luck on your interview. Most PACU's are very team oriented and you never are left alone because you may have the difficult patient but there are usually 3 or 4 staff that have easy patients and can break away to help you.


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