PeriAnesthesia Nurse

A perianesthesia nurse provides preoperative and postoperative care to patients undergoing anesthesia during surgery or other, more minor procedures. Perianesthesia nursing duties involve preparing the patient for surgery, assisting in monitoring them during the procedure, and caring for them after the surgery as they return to consciousness and recover. Postoperative care can involve pain and nausea management, surgical wound care, and assessing individual patients and their response to the anesthesia. Close vigilance and careful monitoring are required in the immediate stages post-operation, ensuring that the patient is not in respiratory distress, that their vital signs are stable, and eventually enabling them to discharge from the hospital. Perianesthesia nurses can work in hospitals, inpatient, and outpatient clinics. Because perianesthesia nurses specialize by type of treatment, they will see all kinds of patients of any age who require this treatment.

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Becoming a perianesthesia nurse requires first becoming a licensed registered nurse. Earning your nursing degree can be done in as little as two years if you pursue an associate degree of nursing from an accredited vocational or community college. Some nursing specialties require a bachelor’s degree in order to pursue certification, but perianesthesia nursing does not. However, earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) would make you more competitive and likely earn you a higher salary. Taking some courses that focus on anesthesia would be beneficial, but not necessary. With either degree, when you graduate and earn your nursing degree, you must take and pass your state’s board of nursing licensure exam, which is called the NCLEX (national council licensure examination). When you pass this, you will be a licensed, registered nurse, ready to practice and pursue this specialty.

Perianesthesia Nursing Certification

Perianesthesia nursing certification is an important step toward advancing a perianesthesia nursing career. Unlike earning a nursing degree and license, perianesthesia nursing certification is voluntary and not required legally to practice as a perianesthesia nurse. However, certification is considered necessary by most employers, and your chances of getting a good job are greatly increased if you are a certified perianesthesia nurse. Not only does certification help you become better trained, but it demonstrates your commitment to the field of perianesthesia nursing. When people see you are a certified perianesthesia nurse, patients and healthcare workers alike will know that your training is on par with national standards and that you are aware of the latest research, changes and developments in the field of perianesthesia nursing. Usually, perianesthesia nursing certification requires some work experience and some training before you can take the perianesthesia nursing certification exam. Perianesthesia nursing certification is administered by the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc. (ABPANC) and after passing the exam you will be entitled to use the title CPAN (certified perianesthesia nurse) or CAPA (certified ambulatory perianesthesia nurse). In order to be eligible to take the exam, you will need to be a licensed, registered nurse with either a bachelor’s or associate degree, and with a minimum of 1,800 hours of perianesthesia nursing experience.

The outlook for this specialty is great and could promise job growth and security should you choose to pursue this path. The nursing profession in general is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, with projected growth of 22% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes perianesthesia nurse, but in general specialty nurses are in even greater demand due to their extra experience and training. With the medical profession becoming even more specialized and with nurses taking on even more healthcare responsibilities as hospitals work to cut costs, the perianesthesia nursing specialty will continue to be strong. The perianesthesia nurse salary is good as well. According to, the average salary for a certified perianesthesia nurse is $27.92- $36.29 an hour, and can be as high as $31.49-$38.00 an hour for those perianesthesia nurses working in an operating room. This will also of course depend on your geographic location and your years of experience.

Joining the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) can be a valuable resource for continuing education opportunities, as well as more information about this nursing specialty and the job opportunities. Networking as a member of ASPAN can greatly improve your job prospects and career advancement. Learn more by visiting their website.

Find a nursing program that fits your current educational level as well as your personal and professional goals. If you are already a nurse, start looking for internship opportunities or job opportunities in preop and postop facilities.

Graduate Programs in Registered Nurse Anesthesia

(Sources: American Society of Perianesthesia nurse, American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Ontario perianesthesia nurses association)