Post Anesthesia Care Nurse salaries in Merced, CA

Average Post Anesthesia Care Nurse Salary

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The average salary for a Post Anesthesia Care Nurse in Merced, CA is $44.30 per hour. This is 23% lower than the California average of $54.44.

Estimate based on Bureau of Labor Statistics,Payscale data.

What is a Post Anesthesia Care Unit RN?

Post anesthetic care unit nurses, also called PACU nurses, are one of the lesser known yet incredibly important specialists in the nursing field. They help patients recovering from the side effects of anesthesia following an operation, so they’re usually employed at hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. The ever-increasing number of surgical procedures being performed and PACU nurses’ direct link with these procedures keep these specialists in demand and well paid, but several factors can impact their salary.

PACU nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for patients who have undergone anesthesia during surgical procedures. They monitor post-surgical patients’ vital signs and level of consciousness while remaining vigilant for side effects from the anesthesia. PACU nurses work with an array of patients and frequently work with one patient or two patients simultaneously. They also coordinate with patients and their families on appropriate post-op care, including medication information.

Prospective PACU RNs must meet the same educational requirements as RNs in other fields, which includes earning an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) nursing program. After graduating, they must take the NCLEX-RN exam to receive RN licensure. Transitioning to the PACU also requires additional skills and training specifically related to post-surgical patient care and anesthesia.

How a Post Anesthesia Care Unit RN salary is based

Years of experience nearly always increases a PACU nurse’s base salary. An entry-level PACU nurse can’t expect to earn as much as one who already has several years of experience in the field. While you can’t do anything to accelerate this boost to your base salary, other factors can help sooner.

One way is through education, which also takes time but not as much. Although a PACU nurse can enter the nursing field with either an ADN or a BSN, facilities are more frequently preferring BSNs. A PACU nurse’s base salary could reflect this preference. However, since you can pursue certification with an unencumbered nursing license no matter your degree level, education may not have as much bearing on base salary as other factors.

Relevant certifications can play a role in base salary. However, since many are required, this also might not have as great an impact as anticipated. PACUs must have Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certifications, and depending on the work setting, you may also need Pediatric Advanced Life Support certification. Professional PACU certification isn’t a mandatory requirement by all hospitals, but this certification can greatly improve your base salary.

Workplace and geographic location can also increase base salary. Nurses typically earn more in a hospital setting, which is a primary employer of PACU RNs. Geographically, some states pay more than others and even certain cities in these states can have higher base salaries. However, always compare salaries to the area’s cost of living to ensure it represents a livable wage.

How to increase your Post Anesthesia Care Unit RN salary

Time on the job is a long-term solution for increasing your PACU RN salary. You can help expedite the process in various ways, such as furthering your education and acquiring professional certifications.

As a PACU nurse, earning an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing, can help you become an advanced practice registered nurse. An APRN can pursue a PACU nurse manager position, which requires you to oversee, train, and mentor all the PACU nurses in the unit. It can also boost your salary. APRNs can also pursue a Nurse Practitioner role, but it’s uncommon for an NP to work exclusively in a PACU.

Another way to increase your earning potential is by validating your professional experience through certification. Professional certification helps ensure you’re paid appropriately for your specialized skills and it demonstrates your knowledge and commitment to patient safety.

The American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification administers the Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) and Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA). You can earn dual certification by acquiring at least 1,200 hours of direct clinical experience in Post-Anesthesia Phase I and at least 1,200 hours of direct clinical experience in the Pre-Anesthesia Phase, Day of Surgery/Procedure, Post-Anesthesia Phase II, and/or Extended Care.

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What cities in California pay the most for Post Anesthesia Care Nurses?

Los Gatos is currently the highest paying city in California for Post Anesthesia Care Nurse jobs, paying up to $95/hr. This is 35% higher than the average pay for Post Anesthesia Care Nurse roles in California.

Other top paying cities include Mountain View, paying up to $95/hr, Palo Alto, paying up to $95/hr, and San Jose, paying up to $95/hr.