Would PACU be suitable for me?

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    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?
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    i dont know too much about PACU nursing as i am only doing an externship right now. but i do know that a lot of the nurses i have met enjoy the PACU and report that as far as patient care it is way less stressful than the units and the floors. where i work the nurses get 3pts, we see all kinds of patients, vascular, neuro, plastics, gi, etc. we rarely see trauma pts or very seriously critical patients as they go straight to the unit. i can tell you a little more if you like, you can pm me if you like. i keep an online diary of my experiences in the PACU.

    good luck to you!
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    Our PACU nurses don't always leave on time, and they work wacky hours. It can also be physically and mentally stressfull.
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    i can say that our PACU nurses leave ontime, have a full hour lunch break with coverage and typically work 12hr days however the hrs can range from typical 7-7, to 11-11, soem even do 1a-1p.

    i second the mental and physical stress that comes with just about every job

    when its all said and done i think it'd be great if you could talk to some nurses in the PACU where you'd be interseted in working, maybe shadow them, as all places are gonna be different
  7. 1
    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.
    Sunshine78 likes this.
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    I suggest go for it! I worked on a medical-surgical ICU for 3 years on night shift and I got really burned out. I did not realize it had happened until after I left. I enjoyed ICU and the challenge, but the constant worrying about the unstable patients, dealing with familys and hopeless situations drained me. I had a hard time leaving work at work and always thought about the what if's. I have been in pacu for over 6 months and I am enjoying it. Within a few weeks of starting I felt a weight lifted off of me and realized how burnt out I was. Sure PACU has its not so great things. But it is a nice change, and I dont miss ICU. We do get the vented, hemodyanically unstable pt on occasion and you get to use your skills, but you dont have to deal with them for 12 hours.
    The one thing that I have enjoyed about PACU is you get to see a mostly positive outcome. You get to offer pain relief, pts get to go home sometimes, and you do follow ups with them and find out for the most part they are doing fine. It is nice to see a happy outcome more often then not! Sure there is call, but perks outway the few not so fun things!
    Good Luck.
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    I certainly would like to find where MissJKm PACU is. Do their PACU still exist as described? I had made that false impression when I moved to PACU. Been in PACU for over 6 years now, and have had my share of hairy days like ICUs. I agree with Rn34TX and Cleothecat...you're not going to escaped from taking ICU patients...nor will your PACU day be a walk in the park all the time. There will be days when you are on your toes from the minute you step in the unit to the time you sign off. No lunch---no breaks. Like ICUs, each unit has its moments of busy time and down time. No guarantees each time. However, my moved to PACU has been one of the best decision I've ever made. At least here, you won't have to deal with surgeons who refused to give additional pain meds/sedation orders because they are worried about respiratory depression. Your primary goal in PACU are airway and pain control...but certainly not limited to the that. Less turning/less bathing...and when patients gets a little bit bossy...it's time for them to go. Recovery is over and hope there's a bed for him to transfer to.
    Good luck...Check it out...
  10. 0
    PACU has long been referred to as the place "ICU nurse go to unwind".
    True, but as previous posters have said, you sometimes don't get to ship your problems off to ICU, whether it be bed staus or other conditions. If you really want a lower stress job where you can use your skills, an Outpatient surgery center might be a better fit. Pt.s recover and go home; regular hours, but you do lose a bit of support system; when things go wrong, you WILL be the front line. All the anesthesiologists are in with cases on the table.
    As always, it's a trade-off.
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    I guess I'm looking for an easy escape, a job that doesn't exist. The reality is that there is always a trade off. I was also looking at same day or outpatient surgery positions. No nights, no weekends, no holidays and no call. Also, not as many dollars in my pocket come payday. Then of course, this past week has been a walk in the park in my ICU. My last shift, I was singled. It was such a pleasure. There's also this little nag in my head that says I should stick firm where I'm at until I've given it a solid year.

    No easy answers but the question lingers as I'm up for review and the question will come up "are you happy?". I don't know how I'm going to answer.

    Thanks to all of you who have taken the time out of your busy lives to respond. The feedback is incredibly helpful.
    Last edit by wonderbee on Jul 9, '06
  12. 0
    I'm a student going through my ADN program for nursing next year. When i graduate what better to work in, sicu or pacu for years experience to apply for CRNA?


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