What is Post-operative Nurse?

When a patient leaves the care of the anesthetist after an operation, they wake up under the supervision of a post-operative nurse. These health care professionals work in recovery rooms to ensure that post-operative patients, who often wake up in physiologically fragile states, will be expertly and continuously supervised.

Basic Responsibilities

Post-operative nurses have two basic responsibilities: transfer and monitor patients after surgeries, according to Nurse.org. After surgeries, post-operative nurses assess the patient’s condition and determine if they are able to be moved to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). If the vital signs are unstable or if the surgical team encounters problems, the patient may need to remain in the operating room. Once the doctor determines that the patient can safely be moved, they will be transferred to the PACU for continued care under the watchful eyes of a post-operative nurse. There, patients will be carefully monitored when they wake up, so they will know what is going on. Post-operative nurses ensure that patients stay comfortable while they monitor their vitals and deliver pain medications.

Registered Nurse PACU Job Description

Most post-operative nurses are actually RN’s who work in PACU’s, which may refer to either post-anesthesia care units or post- ambulatory care units. These RNs will need the practical skills and technical knowledge of patient care and regulatory standards of practice to properly care for post-operative patients. They ensure that patient care areas are adequately stocked with supplies and equipment. They must know proper airway management techniques, such as extubation, pulse monitoring and oral administration. Post-operative nurses must understand the principles of hemodynamic monitoring, so they can monitor patient by vital signs and cardiac readings. They maintain proper intravenous intake and output while also monitoring for signs and symptoms of urgent conditions that need medical interventions.

Work Expectations

Hospitals have high expectations for post-operative nurses when it comes to quality improvement programs, risk management initiatives and incident reporting systems. Every day, they continually interact with patients, physicians and fellow employees as they promote quality patient care, positive customer relations and harmonious working relationships. They must demonstrate dependability and accountability because they must independently take care of patients in critical conditions. Post-operative nurses are in charge of their recovery rooms, so they keep management informed of any supply shortages and equipment malfunctions. Due to the constantly changing nature and demands of post-operative nursing, these RNs must be flexible regarding unexpected assignment changes.

How to Become a Post-operative Nurse

Post-operative nurses need to have graduated from an accredited school of professional nursing. Most employers usually require a minimum of two years’ experience in an ICU or PACU setting such as an ambulatory surgery center. An active state RN license and valid BCLS and ACLS certifications are recommended. Post-operative nurses need knowledge of operative care standards and post-anesthesia techniques. They also need a strong attention to detail because they must ensure that all medical documentation is legible, accurate and complete. Knowledge of applicable regulations, compliance standards and accreditation requirements should make a difference during job interviews.

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Anyone who wants to become a post-operative nurse should also possess critical thinking skills, a willingness to listen to others and effectively problem solving by collectively using data analysis and clinical judgments.