Travel PACU Nurse Jobs

PACU nurses are essential in the overall care of surgical patients. They are responsible for monitoring the patient’s vital signs after surgery and helping to stabilize them as they become conscious. PACU Registered Nurses also manage pain for the patients, which can be a critical part of their care.

Nurses with post anesthesia care unit experience have never been in more demand and critical care nurses are sought after by nearly every hospital in the country. Travel nursing can be an exciting and rewarding career, especially for those who are excited about experiencing new places and meeting new people. There are many benefits to working as a travel pacu nurse, such as an increased income, professional development opportunities, and gaining experience in areas outside of your own geographic region.

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PACU Travel Nurse FAQ

How Much Do PACU Nurses Make?

The salary of a registered nurse can vary significantly depending on the experience of the nurse as well as the experience, certifications, and location they are working in. The median salary for a registered nurse was $ 80,010 per year or $36.22 per hour in 2020 with most earning between $61,630 and $93,590 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry-level registered nurse jobs or those with the lowest 10% salary earned around $53,410, while the highest 10% earned more than $116,230. Typically, a travel nurse job will provide higher hourly and weekly pay than permanent positions in the same location, especially for critical care positions like the post-anesthesia care unit.

What Does a PACU Travel Nurse Do?

PACU RNs - or Post-Anesthesia Care Unit Nurses - provide care to patients recovering from anesthesia. They monitor vital signs after surgery and stabilize the patient as they become conscious. They also help manage pain for the patients. There are two phases in the PACU. Phase I PACU is where patients are sent immediately after surgery. The average stay here is one hour. Patients are kept here until any breathing issues are remedied and vital signs are stabilized. Once pain is under control and they are mostly awake, they will be sent to another unit in the hospital to recover, or if they are an outpatient, they will go to Phase II PACU. Phase II PACU has patients rest in a chair, usually have a small snack, and walk up and down the hallway. From here they are discharged and sent home. Some PACU RNs will also assist and prep the patient before surgery.

Typical PACU RN Responsibilities:

  • Monitoring post-operative patients' levels of consciousness during recovery from anesthesia
  • Maintain accurate records of assessments, treatments, medication administration, vital signs, etc., as appropriate to the unit’s needs
  • Monitor airway patency during recovery from general anesthesia or sedation; initiate treatments such as oxygen administration or bronchodilator aerosols when indicated
  • Treating pain, nausea, and other post-operative symptoms of anesthesia
  • Collaborating with the medical team on post-operative patient care and facilitating timely specialized interventions
  • Providing comfort and reassurance to distressed post-operative patients and concerned family members
  • Educating patients and their families on post-surgery care, as well as answering questions
Nurse to Patient Ratio: 1:1-2
Subsets CVICU, MICU, SICU, Burn ICU, Neuro ICU, Trauma, CCU
Floating: Typically floats to Stepdown/PCU, PACU, Tele, Med Surg, other ICU units
Patients Transfer From ER Requiring, Close Monitoring, Life-Threatening Illness/Injury, Patients From Inpatient, Units Who Deteriorate Rapidly, Medical, Post-Surgical, Trauma, Burn, Cardiac

How to Become a PACU Travel Nurse?

Education & License Requirements

To work as a Travel PACU Nurse, Registered Nurses must complete their associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing and take the National Council Licensure Exam NCLEX -RN Exam, which is a requirement to practice as an RN in the United States. Once the NCLEX exam is passed and you meet the board of nursing license requirements in your state, then all that is left is to do is gain the necessary experience in your specialty and explore additional certifications.

Certifications

Common certifications required for a PACU nurse include basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certifications. Nurses interested in working in the post-anesthesia care unit can also pursue additional certifications. The American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification offers programs for registered nurses to become CPAN (Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse) and CAPA (Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse) certified.

How Do Pay Packages Work for PACU Travel Nursing Jobs?

While compensation offers can vary greatly depending on the contract or agency offering, pay packages for PACU travel nurse jobs typically have four major components: hourly taxable wages, meals and incidentals, housing, and travel.

Hourly Pay

Full-time nurses working at healthcare facilities receive a salary, but most travel nurse employers offer hourly wages. Every pay package must include a taxable hourly wage, and the amount can vary depending on the shift, location, and specialty required of the assignment.

Housing

Housing payments can be included in a payment from a staffing agency. This is typically offered in two ways. Either the company is providing housing, or the traveler is taking the housing stipend. It is more beneficial for the traveler to take the housing stipend for two primary reasons. First, they will have a choice in where they stay. Everyone’s definitions of comfortable and acceptable are different. The second reason the housing stipend is more beneficial for them is that it can be given as a nontaxable amount.

Meals and Incidentals

Also known as per diems, meal and incidental stipends provide a daily budget for daily living expenses. These standards vary depending on the cost of living in cities and states across the country.

Travel Expenses

Travel is the last portion of the pay package. Many recruiters may not even offer travel and instead put that money into the per diems or housing for their traveler so they are receiving the benefits over the entire contract, not just at the very beginning or end of the contract. While a travel stipend can be used to cover the cost of a flight for the traveler, it is more often than not used to subsidize the traveler’s expenses to and from an assignment. Travel expenses can be offered as a reimbursement rate per mile, though many agencies will opt to offer a flat rate to and from an assignment.

Getting Started as a Traveling Nurse

Many travel nurses find work through recruitment agencies and marketplaces, which means you have better access to job boards to choose your schedule, location, and salary. When you begin browsing for jobs, be sure to consider the housing options, the benefits, the guaranteed hours' policy, and the recruiting company’s overall reputation.

The good news is that Fusion Marketplace has everything you need when it comes to finding the perfect traveling nursing jobs. Here, you have the freedom to compare benefits, packages, and staffing agencies—all in one place. So find your next job today.