A day in the life of PACU nurse ?


  1. Hows the oncall experience ?

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Hi everyone,

Can anyone describe a day in the life of a PACU nurse ?


Thank You

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

1 Article; 3,377 Posts

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 12 years experience.

The answer is going to be hugely variable depending on where you work, and the type of patients cared for. Working in Phase I of a PACU is very different than pre-op and Phase II. A day at a freestanding ambulatory surgery center will be very different than a hospital PACU recovering ICU level patients. Pros and Cons of each are different as well. Is there a more specific PACU setting that you're interested in?

HeySis, BSN, RN

435 Posts

Specializes in PACU. Has 25 years experience.

If your in nursing school now (you don't have any credentials, which is why I'm thinking student) Ask your instructor if you can spend a day in the PACU.

We have second semester students that follow a patient from pre-op, to the OR, PACU and then back to SDS for Level II. The third semester students stay a day in the PACU and we show them how to do jaw thrust, chin tilts, assess airways and give them a bit of practice.

That shows you the day, but if your interested in the PACU, ask all the nurses there why they choose the unit and thier pros and cons. I did that on every unit I did clinicals on as a student, opened my eyes to lots of things I'd have never considered otherwise.


1 Post

Every day in PACU is different, as every patient and surgery is different. No two surgeries are alike, and people emerge from anesthesia differently as well. I do both PACU and I also sedate patients. Some patients roll out of OR into PACU up and awake, some take very long to wake up, some have airways in place or an ETT. Two people can have the same surgery, one has no pain, the other has severe pain. It's not an easy dept. to work in, can be very fast paced, you mostly have two patients at a time, and you are pressed to get them recovered and transferred to the floor, or discharged home within a certain amount of time. Your hold up in PACU can hold up the OR, and hold up the docs, and no-one likes to be held up. I've come to just accept that I will have at least one bad day in PACU, BUT will have good days as well.

Oh, and you need to be thick skinned!