CRNA with PACU experience?

Specialties CRNA


Any SRNA's or CRNA's out there with only PACU experience prior to applying to anesthesia school? I have some ICU experience, but have spent most of my years in a very busy 14 bed PACU. I honestly believe I have seen and dealt with just about every type of anesthesia-related complication out there, and therefore feel fairly comfortable dealing with airway and hemodynamic emergencies. Not to mention that I am very familar with all of the different types of surgeries, as well as most of the anesthetic gases, muscle relaxants, vasoactive meds, antiemetics, and opiates.

What are your opinions? Do you think this type of experience is enough to succeed in Anesthesia school? Or am I just wasting time applying b/c I'll more than likely get passed over for someone with ICU experience? It's a little intimidating hearing from only ICU trained CRNA's and SRNA's, but I really do think I can do it. Is one year of ICU really better than 6 years in a PACU? Any opinions? Pearls of wisdom? Thanks, folks. I really appreciate your input.


17 Posts


How much ICU experience do you have? PACU experience as well as the ICU experience that you have may indeed be enough to apply to anesthesia school. Read the schools prereqs and also give them a call. As a suggestion, if you are concerned, get a perdiem job in an ICU somewhere so that you are actively in the ICU when you interview. Good luck - sounds as if you have great experience. :)


422 Posts

Having worked in both the ICU and PACU I think it was really important that I spent a year plus in the ICU. The PACU can be challenging at times but not a lot of long term gtts and hemodynamic monitoring. You may hold an ICU patient for a shift but they are normally gone by the next shift. Coming in day after day and having the same pt and same gtts helps I believe. I currently work in a 27 bed PACU and worked in one of our 9 ICU's prior to that. I learned a ton more in the ICU than I have in the PACU. I do believe my PACU experience has been helpful prior to starting school this fall but the ICU definately raised my level of learning more. I can only speak about my experience though. If the school you apply to considers PACU as critical care then go ahead and apply. If not, get the extra 6 months in the ICU if you need it.


5 Posts

Thanks for the prompt responses...much appreciated!


415 Posts

I know many fine CRNAs whose background was primarily PACU. And I know PACU nurses are proud of their background and work hard.

HOWEVER, it is a fact that PACU nurses (as a group) do not score as well on the certification exam. Programs are mandated to maintain high first time pass rates to maintain their accreditation. It is easy to see why an ICU background would look attractive to an admissions committee. ICU nurses make the highest scores on the certification exam.

loisane crna


5 Posts


Thanks for your insight. I'm currently not in a situation where I can start working in the ICU (I'm at an overseas military hospital) and won't be for another 14 months. However, I'd really like to apply to anesthesia school now, with the hopes of starting immediately after I leave the military.

If I don't get in, I'll head straight for the ICU :)

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