Specialty Switch ICU V. PACU

Specialties PACU


  1. PACU was an excellent experience

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2 members have participated

I have been a nurse for 4 years... 2 years as a cardiac step down nurse and 2 years as an ICU/CCU/SICU nurse (yes... all three because that is how my hospital rolls). I have recently accepted a new job at a hospital closer to home because I had fallen asleep driving home from a night shift. The hospital nearby did not have an available openings for ICU so I applied for PACU as it required ICU experience and I figured why not!?

My concerns are:

When I first told a fellow nurse about my change in specialty the first words that came from her mouth were "PACU is where ICU Nurses go to die... its like going out to pasture." Do others feel this is a similar sentiment?

Also, The new hospital only services about 1/3 of the patients to what I am typically used to. Has anyone gone to a much smaller hospital and felt it to be a difficult transition?

I just want to make sure I will still be challenged in this roll I suppose and am just looking for some support. Right now I feel as thought misery loves company and I am second guessing my decision.


78 Posts

I was an ICU nurse for 4 years before I relocated. I took a non-ICU job in PACU at a much smaller hospital. I did it for numerous reasons. I have been here for three years. I can tell u that here..not everyone has ICU experience. While we do see some critical patients, they are less challenging because we do not remain in care of them for very long. In my unit we float between preop and pacu and that keeps it interesting. Somewhat. LoL I dont want to discourage you, but to answer your question, I miss ICU everyday and I am not challenged by what I do. So Im going back to school for NP and heading hopefully back to ICU albeit in a different role. Hope this helps some.


48 Posts

Specializes in ICU-Adult Medical.

I left a medical ICU and transferred to a PACU. In my facility we extubate w/o the Dr at the bedside and we get central lines and art lines. The volume of patients is very high because I work in a 1000+ bed facility. We recover children and adults. I am challenged everyday. I do miss the ICU but, I cannot do the job anymore due to some injuries. PACU isn't for everyone but with you have a laryngospasming child that you have to bag through it...I can guarantee you will get the thrill. I have only been in PACU since last July and I am still loving it. I hope you love the transition and I'm sure if you ask to get the more critical patients they will be more than happy to let you have them. I always ask to get the tough ones because I want my skills to stay fresh. I understand it's not all the pumps going and drips, but it is critical care.


10 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, PACU.

I have also left the ICU for the PACU at a larger trauma hospital in my city. In my experience, this job is still challenging but in a whole different way. We see a large variety of surgical patients from many different specialties and you need to know what to look for with each one. During the day, we have to move quick as the flow of patients picks up. The PACU is less physically demanding which is a definite plus for me! I do miss the ICU in that I miss that connection with my patients after caring for them for 8+ hours. What could it hurt to give it a try? If things don't work out for you in the PACU I'm sure there is an ICU waiting for you!

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