Quote from RNKittyKat
I'm considering leaving my neuro trauma ICU for something less stressful on my body. Not knowing all that much about the PACU side of nursing or any PACU nurses, I'm wondering if PACU would be an option. They are looking for PACU nurses in my facility.
Neuro trauma ICU is physically and mentally exhausting with 12 hour shifts, frequent road trips, unstable patients, constant monitoring of critical patients, titrating vasopressors and sedation, assisting at bedside procedures, dealing with families etc. It's a stressful juggling act. I've been at it for 6 months and although the unit is satisfied with my progress, I'm totally spent. I would like to have something left of me at the end of the day and maybe leave on time more often.
What's PACU nursing like and would it be a good fit for me?
One thing that I'd like to add here is that the majority of things that you don't like about ICU (critical patients, titrating vasopressors, sedation, etc.) are not going to be escaped by moving to the PACU, unless the PACU you are moving to only deals with "day surgery" types of patients.
You definitely will not have to deal with families nearly to the extent as in ICU, but the other things will not go away.
Today, I started my shift with the entire unit full to capacity with ICU overflow patients. On top of it, the OR was breathing down my neck the second a patient got downgraded to med/surg floor status or an ICU bed was assigned in order to make room for their cases. Anesthesia had to stay and start recovering two of my patients until I came back from transferring ICU patients to an ICU. (Luckily ASPAN standards of only having two patients max is strictly followed here.)
Don't get me wrong. PACU is most often a walk in the park on most days in comparison to an average day in any ICU.
I just don't want someone to move there with the same false impression that I had that PACU would be less physically exhausting and provide an escape from the most challenging critical care patients.
I still take plenty of very sick ICU patients almost every shift, push plenty of stretchers for miles across the hospital, and move, lift, and turn patients between bed and stretcher much more frequently that an average ICU nurse's shift.
PACU can be great..... but buyer beware.