As a recovery room nurse, yours is often the first face patients see when they wake up after surgery. So keep a smile on your face as you take their blood pressure, pulse and temperature; hang their intravenous medications; check their dressings; and make sure they came through their surgery or procedure relatively unscathed. Recovery room nursing often appeals to nurses who like tasks with a beginning, middle and end -- the end being when their patients go home or to their room. Recovery room nursing generally requires a registered nurse degree.
Being a recovery room nurse has advantages if you're the type of person who enjoys seeing new faces each and every day. You meet a new crop of patients who stay for just an hour or two before moving on home or to hospital rooms. If you work in a hospital recovery room, you might enjoy working with a variety of surgeries and a number of surgeons. Because emergencies can arise quickly in the recovery room, nurses must have advanced cardiac life support training, in addition to basic life support.
If you like to know your patient's whole life story, meet all of their relatives and exchange emails before they finally toddle back home, you might want to avoid recovery room shifts. Recovery room patients may repeat themselves and ask the same questions over and over because they're temporarily under the influence of heavy-duty memory-decimating drugs. If you're the type of nurse who likes to get thank-you cards and candy -- and who doesn't? -- you might find recovery room nursing unfulfilling because many of your patients won't remember you. About the time they're awake enough to talk to, they're often ready to leave your unit.
Where you work and the type of patients you care for determines how busy you'll be as a recovery room nurse. If your patient just had transplant surgery, you'll be hanging IV meds galore; setting up sophisticated equipment to monitor vital signs; dealing with orders from several physicians; and watching for potentially life-threatening complications. On the other hand, if you work in the recovery room of a surgicenter that specializes in colonoscopies, you might find yourself taking a few blood pressures and doing some post-operative teaching. But you might also be tending to several patients at once, rather than just one or two, which can keep you hopping.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2010, registered nurses make a median annual salary of $66,650 in private hospitals and $62,690 if they work in local hospitals. The area of the country you live in also plays a large part in determining your salary. RNs who work in doctor's offices make a median salary of $62,880.
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.