Perianesthesia Nurse

Perianesthesia Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
A perianesthesia nurse is also called a recovery room nurse.  The recovery room nurse position is designed to provide care for patients who are recovering from surgery.  These nurses are responsible for supporting patients as they awaken from anesthesia after having surgery.

These nurses help patients transition out of surgery. Most often, this type of nurse is part of a critical care or after care unit in a hospital or they may be part of any surgical or recovery team.  Some of the important duties, roles and responsibilities of the recovery room nurse include:

  • Prepare patients for surgery
  • Inform patients about the anesthesia and what to expect after surgery
  • Ensure patients awaken properly from anesthesia
  • Help patients transition from surgery
  • Care for patients with adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Support patients throughout the process of awakening from surgery

How to Become a Perianesthesia Nurse

The first step towards becoming a recovery room nurse is to become a registered nurse.  You must complete a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree) and take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse (RN).  During your education it is a good idea to take classes that relate to anesthesia and pharmaceuticals.  This will help you prepare for working with anesthesia.  Once you have earned a degree it is best to gain some experience working in a hospital or surgical setting.  If you have an aptitude for medicine and understand how medications work in the body, you can apply this knowledge to your career as a nurse working in the recovery room.

Perianesthesia Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

Recovery room nurses must first be licensed as registered nurses (RN).  The aspiring nurse must complete undergraduate studies and earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree (BSN).  Many nurses choose to continue their education by earning a Master’s degree or Doctorate degree, which will help improve their salary potentials.  Upon completing their degree, many nurses gain experience in the field by working at a hospital or clinic.

Nurses may also choose to join the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN).  This group is designed to provide ongoing support and education to qualified nurses.  Additionally, nurses may choose to become certified.
The American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification (ABPANC) certifies anesthesia nurses in two categories including Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) and Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA). In addition to taking a three-hour exam consisting of 175 multiple-choice questions based on topics such as physiological needs, behavioral/cognitive needs, safety needs and advocacy needs applicants must prove eligibility. Eligibility requirements include 1,800 hours of perianesthesia experience. Certification is not required, but it is recommended by the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN). These certifications will make your skills more valuable in the workplace.

Perianesthesia Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The health care field is growing rapidly.  Many more nurses will be needed in the coming years.  Nurses with specialties such as recovery room nurses will be in high demand in the next decades. People will be living longer and will need surgical procedures as they age.  Surgeons, surgical nurses, and recovery room nurses will continue to be highly necessary members of the medical team.

The salary for this specialty nursing position ranges from $52,000 to $65,000 annually.  Nurses with extensive education and experience will generally reach the highest pay levels.  The salary that a recovery room nurse receives will vary based on the type and size of the clinic or hospital where they are employed.