Getting to Know Perianesthesia Nursing

Perianesthesia NursingWhen one thinks about nursing, he always visualizes people in white with a cap on their head, catering sick patients in wards, making nurses rounds, administering medications and so much more. Nursing, for others is just as simple as that. However, what others do not know is that nursing extends far beyond than that. Actually, there are numerous careers inside of nursing. If ward nursing isn’t really your thing, you may to choose other fields inside the profession. You may choose to be a nurse researcher if you love to discover new things, a NICU nurse if you’re fond of babies, but for those who are fascinated with things related to surgeries and the operating room, seeing patients emerge from consciousness, you may want to become a perianesthesia nurse.

We all know them by the term “Recovery Room Nurses”.  They are nurses who are in charge of patients who have recently gone through surgery. As for their job description, they provide intensive care for patients as they regain consciousness from anesthesia. You never know what could happen after operations and while some patients may regain consciousness calmly, there are also those who react aversely. Perianesthesia nurses are trained and ready to handle those patients who may wake up confused, in pain or have difficulty breathing. Also, a recovery room nurse prepares patients for the surgical experience consults with patients prior to surgery, monitors and supports safe transition from anesthetized state to responsiveness, and readies patients for discharge from perianesthesia care unit. They also give out recovery tips to follow for when patients go home.

How to become one

For nurses who find this job interesting, and want to join the experience, some requirements must be fulfilled in order to become a perianesthesia nurse. First, you need to acquire a Nursing Diploma, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) which is preferred. You may choose to take courses specifically in anesthesia-related care, or you may choose the perianesthesia concentration (or if your program offers it). After which, you need to pass your boards, especially National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and you may then work as an RN and get some experience (at least 1,800 hours in perianesthesia).  In order to become one good perianesthesia nurse, you must not only focus on learning about perianesthesia concepts, but you also need to have experience in medical/surgical and critical-care nursing wherein you can acquire hands-on skills like line placement, tube insertions, dressing changes, IV therapy, and positioning.

After complying with the needed hours, you may then apply to take your certification exam through the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing. And for the last step to take to achieve your goal, you need to pass you Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse exam (CPAN) or Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse exam (CAPA).

Being a perianesthesia nurse isn’t exactly an easy job. Just like others, it also has its downsides. As a recovery room nurse, you get to work irregular hours, get weekend and holiday work, may experience lack of patient contact and follow-up, stress, conflicts, and pressure. However, this job becomes very fulfilling at the end of accomplishing your tasks, seeing your patients get well and recover and most especially after receiving a simple “Thank you” from your patients for taking care of them well.


Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

What Do You Think?