Perianesthesia nursing is a nursing specialty that focuses on the care of patients recovering from anesthesia. Often referred to as recovery room nurses, these nursing specialists know how to handle patients who have adverse reactions as they regain consciousness, such as waking up in pain or having trouble breathing. They also prep patients prior to surgical procedures and may even explain to them what to expect as the anesthesia wears off.
Specializing Improves Earnings
In 2012, registered nurses averaged $67,930 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But this figure doesn’t account for degree, nor does it reflect specialties. A survey by Nursing, a professional nursing journal, found that nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing brought home an average of $64,400 in 2011. Those specializing in perianesthesia earned closer to $71,500 a year -- the highest salary of specialties in the survey.
Advancing Your Nursing Practice
Nurses looking for more independence in the workplace can consider becoming nurse anesthetists, who are advanced practice registered nurses. APRNs specializing in anesthesiology actually administer anesthesia before, during and after surgery, essentially taking over many duties of anesthesiologists. With greater responsibility come greater rewards, as nurse anesthetists earned an average of $154,390 in 2012, reports the BLS. Of the top 10 percent, salaries often exceeded $187,199.
The higher salaries for both perianesthesia RNs and APRNs have a lot to do with training and skill. In addition to a BSN, employers usually ask perianesthesia nurses to earn professional certifications to work in this specialty. Two designations are available: certified post anesthesia nurse, or CPAN, and certified ambulatory perianesthesia nurse, or CAPA. Both require sitting for an exam from the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing. Nurse anesthetists, on the other hand, must not only graduate with a BS in nursing but also complete a master’s degree program in advanced practice nursing.
Bright Futures Ahead
From 2010 to 2020, registered nurses should experience an employment growth of roughly 26 percent, reports the BLS. By comparison, the average growth rate for all U.S. occupations is expected to reach just 14 percent during this same period of time, so the future is bright for this occupation. Information is limited on how many perianesthesia nurses currently work in the United States, but the 26 percent growth should bring nearly 712,000 new nursing jobs to the market over the decade. With more than 34,000 nurse anesthetists in practice, the 26 percent growth should work out to nearly 8,900 new jobs.