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Assigned to PACU or Oncology for preceptorship. Share your experience with me?

Zaraza Zaraza (New) New

Hey everyone,

I Just registered for this site, so this is my first post! Happy to be a part of the community. Anyways, I am a student in my senior year. I just recieved confirmation from my professor that I will be doing my preceptorship in the PACU. If im not happy with it, I can switch into Oncology.

I live in Oregon. My preceptorship for PACU would be in Washington, and for Oncology (if i choose it) will be in oregon. I dont really know a lot about PACU or Oncology, I am looking for your experience about the fields.

Does one unit give me a better chance at applying for jobs? Does my preceptorship make a difference on my applications?

Just looking for answers.


classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

preceptorship for nursing school??? Out of state?? Need more info.

There's a lot of schools that border Portland and Vancouver (like...seriously, five of them). So I'm assuming the OP is in one of them.

I would look into the hospital - do they see a lot (Legacy) or not as many (Southwest)? It depends. I volunteer at a Legacy hospital and like it there.


Specializes in Med-Surge-Tele-Dialysis. Has 7 years experience.

Hi, wanted to let you know, I'm finishing up my practicum (peceptorship) in pacu. I am doing the RN-BSN program. PACU is a wonderful place to learn because surgery and pacu are often hidden from the rest of the hospital setting. Most of the employees, the rest of the hospital have never seen. They are early arrivals and first to leave. Besides that, if you're going to work med-surge after graduation (which I recommend), pacu is a great start to learn about pre and post op patients. Being is pacu taught me about iv sedation vs general anesthesia, monitoring A-lines, and how close the anesthesiologist works with the nursing staff to care for the patients in recovery.

Also, if you do take the pacu preceptorship, during your down time (which can be daunting and boring) look up policies and procedures and review all standing orders. Most of all this will help you complete your documentation for your theory in regards to your preceptor ship. It helped me a bunch.


Specializes in Med-Surge-Tele-Dialysis. Has 7 years experience.

In regards to your question does your preceptor ship lead to getting a job? It can if that area you are precepting is impressed with you and if they are hiring!! Also it is important, pacu preceptorship can lead to increased knowledge regarding surgery, wound care, basic nursing care, pediatrics, icu, ER. What I'm saying is pacu can actually open a lot of doors for you in the future. The main thing is you have to build experience to be in the career you want.

Testa Rosa, RN

Specializes in Tele Step Down, Oncology, ICU, Med/Surg. Has 6 years experience.

I did my preceptorship in Oncology, and did a residency in Post Surgical. Both were beneficial in getting experience/exposure. It's all good!

More importantly, I would look carefully at which unit is more likely to hire you. See if you can talk to the nurse manager of both units. Ask your instructors which hospital hired more of their students. Where I did my externship was definitely not hiring--there were nine new grad positions and thousands applied; however, I was eventually hired into the oncology floor where I precepted....almost a year later tho.

Good luck.

I spoke to my professor and my position for preceptorship will be in the PACU at an oregon legacy hosptial. By the way I don't want to say my actual location because I dont know if its a hippa violation?

everyone thank you for posting your experience. Im really excited to learn a lot.

Kelli, thank you for posting in great detail. Ill do exactly that in my downtime ill look up the policies and get familiar with procedures.

I did not know that many people dont get into the PACU, in fact I dont know much about the PACU beside that its where we take care of people post surgery/anesthesia.

Testa Rosa, RN

Specializes in Tele Step Down, Oncology, ICU, Med/Surg. Has 6 years experience.

Just do a real good job and make lots of contacts, and follow up with a nice resume package. Work hard, do well and make sure they know your name. Hoping good things for you chica--your preceptorship is where you begin to really feel like a nurse.


thank you for the heads up and suggestion. Ill have no problem making sure I know everyone. Is PACU considered critical care?

Oh and Im a guy not a chica :lol2:


Specializes in Med-Surge-Tele-Dialysis. Has 7 years experience.

Pacu is definitely a critical care setting. It's like ICU (life saving techniques) and ER (anything can happen). Most nurses who work in pacu have years of experience in critical care. The critical care in pacu pertains to airway, circulation, and hemodynamics. The airway is the highest at risk. The majority of the patients who arrive to pacu have just been exubated and are at risk for airway obstruction or to quit breathing. Anesthesia affects patient's VS tremendously by way of 02 sats, BP, heart rhythm, low temp (hypothermia), and heart rate. Also in regards to hemodynamics, fresh incisions can easily bleed and cause hematomas which can lead to drastic and serious changes to the VS. So as you can see now, PACU is a very critical area!! Your pacu experience will help you so much in obtaining a job. It will look great on a resume!!

It's late but I figured I would updat you guys. I loved it! The nurses were awesome! The patients were awesome! It was the best rotation I have had in all off school. I graduated in April and takin nclex tomorrow. The pacu was amazing. I was surrounded by people who were eager to teach and show me things! Makes me want to be a pacu nurse.

For future students: yes! Take pacu! It rocked!


pacu was my very first job out of school. after a few months my manager started assigning me students to precept because i liked teaching and i caught on pretty fast, plus she knew that i would be able to model good behavior by asking any of the other nurses if i had any questions. :)

the students always came in shaking in their shoes, awed by the pace and racket. so i started them off by saying that we didn't do anything they hadn't learned already (somewhat of a simplification, but hey)-- airway, breathing, circulation, drugs/dressings, oxygenation, temperatures, comfort-- we just did it faster and for a shorter period of time. we showed them how to take report from anesthesia, do a head-to-foot assessment for the important stuff, and took it from there, all the way to returning the pt to the floor or the icu (our icu wouldn't take patients until they were stable, which is why we had them sometimes for 24 hours, lol, and why i ended up being an icu nurse) and giving report.

it's a wonderful place to learn things, including how to deal with physicians, make a mistake, correct it, and help each other out, all in one big room. teamwork is essential in so may settings, and this was a great place to learn that. have a ball!


Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 2 years experience.

I finished my complex care preceptorship in the PACU last fall. I loved it the whole way through! I like you didn't know much about the PACU other than it was where you took people after surgery. But I learned so much there! Definitely ask questions and if possible explore some of the other areas as well--in my preceptorship they allowed me to also observe in the OR, same-day, pre-op testing, and other similar areas to let me get to follow the whole sequence and understand better of where the PACU fell into the surgery cycle. Really great experience I'm sure you'll continue to love it!