Education, Competence, and Role of the Nurse Working in the PACU: An International Survey

Karuna Dahlberg, Joni M. Brady, Maria Jaensson, Ulrica Nilsson, Jan Odom-Forren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this research project was to describe the education, competence, and role of nurses working in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) in 11 countries having an established perianesthesia specialty nursing organization and membership on the International Collaboration of PeriAnaesthesia Nurses, Inc (ICPAN) Global Advisory Council (GAC). Design: This is a descriptive international cross-sectional study. Methods: A Web-based survey was distributed to members of the ICPAN GAC to be completed by the GAC representative or another expert perianesthesia nurse member from the organization (n = 11). The GAC has one representative from the following 11 ICPAN organizational members: ACPAN, Australian College of PeriAnaesthesia Nurses (Australia); BRV, Beroepsvereniging Recovery Verpleegkundigen (Belgium/The Netherlands); NAPANc, National Association of PeriAnesthesia Nurses of Canada (Canada); FSAIO, The Danish Association of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care and Recovery Nurses (Denmark); FANA, Finnish Association of Nurse Anaesthetists (Finland); Hellenic Perianesthesia Nursing Organization (Greece); IARNA, Irish Anaesthetic and Recovery Nurses Association (Ireland); PNC of NZNO, Perioperative Nurses College of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (New Zealand); ANIVA, Swedish Association of Nurse Anesthetists and Intensive Care Nurses (Sweden); BARNA, British Anaesthetic and Recovery Nurses Association (United Kingdom); and ASPAN, American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (USA). Findings: Perianesthesia nursing was recognized as a professional nursing specialty in 6 of 11 countries, and 8 of 11 have established national guidelines or practice standards for perianesthesia nurses. The Netherlands, Ireland, and Australia are the only countries that have a formal education program for perianesthesia nurses. There were variations in nurse-to-patient ratios between the 11 countries, ranging from 2:1 to 1:3 in the Phase I recovery of critically ill patients; in Phase II recovery (day surgery) it was most common to have up to three to four patients per nurse. Perianesthesia nurses were mainly the only profession stationed in the PACU, with professions such as the anesthesiologist and surgeon on call. The nurses performed many job tasks autonomously; however, this differed between countries. Conclusions: Perianesthesia nurse education, clinical guidelines, other professions working in the PACU, and job tasks differ between countries. This knowledge can be used in international collaboration to further develop education and training for nurses working in the PACU. Continued international perianesthesia nursing partnership can only bring us closer and strengthen our specialty practice with the focus not on our differences but on our common denominators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-231.e6
JournalJournal of Perianesthesia Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses


  • competence
  • education
  • perianesthesia nursing
  • postanesthesia care unit
  • postoperative period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medical–Surgical


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