From February 6 to 12, Perianesthesia Nurse Awareness Week will be celebrated and honored by perianesthesia nurses and the colleagues they work with.

According to Armi Holcomb, RN, BSN, CPAN, and immediate past president of the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) perianesthesia nursing is one of the most well-rounded areas of nursing. For that reason, she sees the field as exciting and satisfying for both personal and professional reasons.

Perianesthesia nurses always have to weigh several different factors when treating each individual patient.

We see people before surgery and have to know about their preexisting conditions or any medical conditions they have to make sure the surgery is safe,” she says. “We are the patient’s first line of defense.”

Perianesthesia nurses, who administer care during the transition times of pre- and post-surgery, are especially aware of the recovery room care.

Holcomb, who has practiced in many settings including med-surge and ICU, says perianesthesia nursing is her niche. “We see the whole patient,” she says. And then, she says, the perianesthesia nurses are there to help patients transition safely after surgery. “We make sure they can transfer to home, to inpatient, or to the ICU,” she says.

Perianesthesia nurses undergo a certification process through the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc. Certification must be renewed every three years.

As medical care becomes more advanced and complex, the patients nurses see are also generally more acute. Many have coexisting conditions that can have a big impact on surgery and anesthesia. Because of that, these nurses have to always be on top of trends and research. “We have to be life-long learners,” she says, noting that perianesthesia nurses have to keep current with physical health, pharmacology, and surgical needs.

All of that weighs in and it’s critical thinking,” says Holcomb. Perianesthesia nurses never back away from asking questions and will always advocate for patients, says Holcomb. And they are a tight bunch. ASPAN emphasizes mentoring and sharing knowledge among members.

If you are a perianesthesia nurse or work with one, take time this week to reflect on all you do. Celebrate with colleagues and do something to honor your own work (Holcomb says her organization will celebrate nurses with goody bags and a luncheon among other things).

And if your state doesn’t have a proclamation for this week, you can always advocate for one. ASPAN even offers a sample proclamation to guide your efforts.

Congratulations to all the perianesthesia nurses!

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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