Patients are often aware of all the nurses who care for them during a medical procedure, and particularly the perianesthesia nurses who are fierce patient advocates during a time when patients are under and emerging from sedation.a group of five nurses for perianesthesia nursing

As PeriAnesthesia Nurse Awareness Week (this year from February 5-11) celebrates all the work nurses do in this specialty and helps raise awareness of perianesthesia nursing as a career path.

A perianesthesia nurse has diverse responsibilities that can change instantly. They assess patients as they are preparing for a procedure, as they begin, undergo, and emerge from anesthesia–and the process is different for every patient (even if they have worked with the patient previously). The skill set in this specialty is vast and includes an ability to use critical thinking to identify, prevent, or manage a potential crisis.

Perianesthesia nurses care for patients in the time before a procedure during what might seem like a hectic time for patients. As patients are answering questions, getting ready for the procedure, and meeting the medical team, the perianesthesia nurse is developing a rapport and gathering valuable information that can help keep the patient as safe as possible while they are under sedation.

Perianesthesia nurses are also right at the patient’s side during recovery keeping a close watch to assess patients as they are emerging from of the effects of anesthesia. This is an important time because although the procedure may be over, patients are just beginning their recovery process. Their bodies might react in different ways as the anesthesia wears off, so nurses have to be ready for anything from a patient who is crying to one who might be shouting. And during that time, they are constantly assessing the patient for their levels of pain so they can most effectively establish a pain management plan and ensure patient safety.

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An essential part of perianesthesia nursing is to develop a fine-tuned awareness of each patient, even during hectic times. Perianesthesia nurses scan patients to take a comprehensive inventory of their vital signs, skin color, breathing patterns, and subtle body movements to ensure that a patient feels safe and has the very best outcome.

Perianesthesia nurses are often passionate about the work they do and the way they are able to connect with patients and their families in a short time. They develop an intuitive approach to patients–from their anxiety level before a procedure to their process in recovery. They are advocates for their patients and are also aware of the important professional connections they make with their other health care team members and with each other.

The American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) offers excellent resources and opportunities for networking and education for anyone interested in a career in perianesthesia nursing. Whether you’re interested in attending ASPAN’s annual conference, are looking to attain CPAN® and/or CAPA®  credentials through certification, or want to expand your knowledge by reading more information about perianesthesia nursing, ASPAN has a wealth of resources for this dynamic nursing career.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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