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Top 10 PACU RN Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for Registered Nurses specializing in Pediatric Acute Care Units (PACUs).

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications for a PACU RN are extremely important in the job market. They demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise that employers look for when hiring nurses. Certifications also help to give employers confidence in an applicant’s abilities and can make them stand out from other applicants. In addition, certifications provide evidence of continuing education and professional development, which is increasingly important in today’s competitive healthcare environment. Furthermore, certifications can open up opportunities for advancement within an organization or even help advance an individual’s nursing career across different organizations. Finally, certifications are often required to work in certain areas or be considered for certain roles within the healthcare industry, so having them can be a great asset when looking for jobs.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for PACU RNs and explain how they can help advance a PACU RN's career.

What are PACU RN Certifications?

Pacu RN Certification is a specialty certification for nurses who specialize in post-anesthesia care. This certification is offered by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) and requires that nurses have at least one year of experience in post-anesthesia care before taking the exam. The certification is designed to demonstrate that nurses have the knowledge and skills needed to provide safe, quality care for patients recovering from anesthesia.

By earning the Pacu RN Certification, nurses can show their commitment to providing excellent patient care and demonstrate their expertise in this field. The certification also offers career advancement opportunities, as many hospitals look for certified professionals when hiring. Additionally, holding a Pacu RN Certification may lead to increased pay or other benefits from employers. Finally, having this certification may help nurses stay up-to-date on current trends and best practices in post-anesthesia care, allowing them to provide better care for their patients.

Pro Tip: When considering a PACU RN certification, be sure to research the requirements for each state in which you plan to practice. Some states may require additional certification or training beyond the national standard. Additionally, inquire about any experience requirements that may be necessary to obtain your certification.

Related: What does a PACU RN do?

Top 10 PACU RN Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to PACU RNs today.

1. Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN)

Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN) is a certification offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). CPAN certification is designed to recognize nurses who have achieved specialized knowledge and expertise in post anesthesia care.

To become certified as a CPAN, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having at least two years of experience as an RN in the past three years and 1,000 hours of direct patient care in the past two years in post anesthesia care. You must also pass an exam administered by AACN.

The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as pharmacology, assessment and management of postoperative complications, pain management, and ethical considerations. The exam fee is $385 for AACN members and $485 for non-members.

It typically takes four to six weeks to receive your results after taking the exam. If you pass the exam, you will be awarded your CPAN certification which is valid for five years. After five years, you will need to retake the exam or complete continuing education credits to maintain your certification.

2. Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA)

A Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA) is a specialized type of nurse who has completed additional education and training in order to provide care for patients before, during, and after ambulatory surgery. CAPA nurses are responsible for assessing the patient's physical and psychological condition prior to surgery, administering medications and monitoring vital signs throughout the procedure, providing postoperative care and teaching the patient about self-care after discharge.

It typically takes two years of full-time study to become a CAPA nurse. To qualify for certification, an individual must have at least one year of experience as an RN in the perianesthesia setting and must pass a certification exam administered by the American Board of PeriAnesthesia Nursing Certification (ABPANC).

To get certified as a CAPA nurse, you must first meet the eligibility requirements outlined by ABPANC. These include having at least one year of experience as an RN in the perianesthesia setting, completing an approved program of study in perianesthesia nursing, passing a comprehensive written examination, and meeting all applicable continuing education requirements. Once these requirements have been met, you can apply for certification through ABPANC's website.

The cost to become certified as a CAPA nurse varies depending on where you live and which organization you use for certification. The cost typically includes application fees, examination fees, and any other associated costs such as travel or lodging expenses if required. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 USD to become certified as a CAPA nurse.

3. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is a set of clinical interventions for the urgent treatment of cardiac arrest, stroke and other life-threatening medical emergencies. It is an advanced form of basic life support that requires additional knowledge and skills to provide optimal patient care. ACLS is designed to be used by healthcare professionals who either direct or participate in the management of cardiopulmonary arrest or other cardiovascular emergencies.

It typically takes two days to complete the ACLS certification course, which includes both classroom instruction and hands-on practice sessions. The cost of the course varies depending on location and provider, but generally ranges from $200-$400 USD. To become certified in ACLS, you must attend an American Heart Association (AHA) approved training program and pass an exam at the end of the course. You must also have a current Basic Life Support (BLS) certification prior to enrolling in an ACLS class.

4. Basic Life Support (BLS)

Basic Life Support (BLS) is a set of life-saving skills that everyone should know in order to provide immediate care for someone who has stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped beating. It includes chest compressions, rescue breaths, and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). BLS is typically taught in a classroom setting by certified instructors, and it takes about 4-6 hours to complete.

In order to get BLS certification, you must first take a course from an accredited provider. The cost of the course varies depending on the provider and the type of certification being sought. Generally speaking, most courses range from $50-$200 USD. After completing the course, you will receive your BLS certification card which must be renewed every two years in order to remain valid.

5. Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is a certification program designed to teach healthcare providers the knowledge and skills needed to care for critically ill children. PALS focuses on the recognition and treatment of life-threatening emergencies in pediatric patients, as well as how to provide effective resuscitation and stabilization of infants and children.

The PALS course typically takes two days to complete, depending on the provider's skill level. The course consists of lectures, interactive group activities, simulations, and hands-on practice with manikins. Participants must pass both a written exam and a skills assessment in order to receive their certification.

To get certified in PALS, individuals must first attend an approved PALS course. Most courses are offered by hospitals or medical centers but may also be available through online learning programs. After completing the course, participants must take an American Heart Association (AHA) approved written exam and skills assessment before receiving their certification card.

The cost of a PALS course varies depending on the provider offering it but typically ranges from $200-$400. This cost usually includes all materials needed for the course such as textbooks, workbooks, manikin supplies, and other necessary items.

6. Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)

The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) is an educational program designed to teach healthcare providers the skills necessary to resuscitate newborns. It is jointly sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The NRP course covers basic resuscitation techniques, including chest compressions, intubation, and ventilation, as well as advanced topics such as pharmacology and neonatal transport.

The NRP course typically takes 8 hours to complete. It can be taken in a variety of formats, including online courses, instructor-led classes, or a combination of both. The cost of the course varies depending on the format chosen and may include additional fees for materials or certification.

To get certified in NRP, you must first successfully complete an approved course. After completing the course, you will receive a certificate of completion which you can use to apply for certification from either the AAP or AHA. Certification is valid for two years from the date it was issued and must be renewed every two years in order to remain active.

The cost of taking an NRP course varies depending on the format chosen but typically ranges from $50-$200 USD per person. Additional fees may apply for materials or certification renewal.

7. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses who specialize in the administration of anesthesia. They work with anesthesiologists, surgeons and other healthcare professionals to provide safe, effective and efficient anesthesia care for patients before, during and after surgery or other medical procedures.

It typically takes 8-12 years of education and clinical training to become a CRNA. The educational process begins by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After completing the BSN, registered nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as a RN. After obtaining RN licensure, nurses must complete at least one year of critical care experience in an acute care setting such as an ICU or ER.

Once they have met the educational requirements, aspiring CRNAs must then take and pass the National Certification Examination administered by the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). This exam is offered twice a year and consists of 200 multiple choice questions that test knowledge in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathophysiology and other areas related to anesthesia care.

The cost for becoming a CRNA varies depending on where you live and what type of program you choose. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $20,000-$50,000 for a master’s degree program. There are also additional costs associated with taking the NBCRNA certification exam ($600), licensing fees ($100-$200) and continuing education courses ($100-$300).

8. Pain Management Certification

Pain Management Certification is an advanced certification program offered by the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA). It is designed to provide physicians with additional training and knowledge in the management of acute and chronic pain. The certification requires a minimum of three years of experience in anesthesiology and/or pain management, as well as passing a comprehensive examination.

The ABA offers two levels of certification: Pain Medicine Subspecialty Certification and Pain Medicine Diplomate Certification. The Subspecialty Certification requires completion of at least 12 months of clinical practice in the field, while the Diplomate Certification requires 36 months or more.

To obtain either level of certification, applicants must pass a written exam administered by the ABA and submit documentation verifying their experience in pain medicine. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have completed continuing medical education requirements related to pain medicine prior to taking the exam.

The cost for taking the exam varies depending on which level you are applying for, but typically ranges from $1,500 - $2,000 USD.

9. Advanced Practice Nursing in Perioperative Care

Advanced Practice Nursing in Perioperative Care is a specialized field of nursing that focuses on providing care to patients before, during and after surgery. Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) in this field are responsible for assessing the patient’s health status prior to surgery, developing a plan of care, providing preoperative teaching and counseling, monitoring the patient’s progress during surgery, and providing postoperative follow-up care.

The length of time it takes to become an APN in perioperative care depends on the individual’s educational background. Most individuals need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a specialty focus in perioperative nursing. Depending on the school and program chosen, this can take anywhere from two to four years. In addition to completing an MSN program, individuals must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

In order to become an APN in perioperative care, individuals must have a current RN license and at least one year of experience working as an RN in the operating room or surgical setting. They must also complete additional coursework related to advanced practice nursing such as pharmacology and pathophysiology. They may also need to obtain certification from either the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) or the American College of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ACPAN).

The cost of becoming an APN in perioperative care varies depending on factors such as tuition costs at the school chosen for the MSN program and any additional certifications required by employers. Generally speaking, students can expect to pay between $20,000-$50,000 for their education and certification requirements.

10. Preoperative Assessment and Planning Certification

Preoperative Assessment and Planning Certification (PAPC) is a certification program designed to provide nurses with the necessary skills and knowledge to assess and plan for patients undergoing surgery. The PAPC certification is offered by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).

To obtain the PAPC certification, applicants must have at least one year of experience in perioperative nursing and must pass an exam administered by the AANA. The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as preoperative assessment, patient preparation, anesthesia management, postoperative care, and more. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete.

The cost of obtaining the PAPC certification varies depending on whether you are an AANA member or non-member. For AANA members, it costs $375 for the application fee and $450 for the exam fee. For non-members, it costs $575 for both fees combined.

Once you have successfully passed the exam, you will receive your PAPC certification within two weeks. This certificate is valid for five years from the date of issue.

Do You Really Need a PACU RN Certificate?

The short answer to this question is "it depends." The long answer is a bit more complicated.

Whether or not you need a PACU RN certificate depends on several factors, such as the state in which you plan to practice, the type of facility where you will be working, and the type of care you will be providing. In some states, it is required for nurses to have a PACU RN certificate in order to work in post-anesthesia care units (PACUs). Other states may not require this certification but may still prefer that nurses who work in PACUs have completed an accredited program and obtained their certification.

In addition, if you are working in a hospital or other health care facility that specializes in post-anesthesia care, they may require staff members to hold a PACU RN certificate. This is because this type of care can be very specialized and requires specific knowledge and skills. Having the right credentials helps ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care possible.

Finally, if you plan on providing direct patient care within the PACU setting, then having a PACU RN certificate could be beneficial for your career advancement opportunities. It shows employers that you are knowledgeable and well-trained in this particular specialty area of nursing. Furthermore, having your certification can also open up new job opportunities for you as many employers will look for certified nurses when hiring for positions within their organizations.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a PACU RN certificate depends on your individual circumstances. If you plan on practicing nursing within the post-anesthesia setting, then obtaining your certification could be beneficial for both your career prospects and patient outcomes.

Related: PACU RN Resume Examples

FAQs About PACU RN Certifications

1. What is a PACU RN Certification?

Answer: A PACU RN Certification is a credential that demonstrates a Registered Nurse has the knowledge and skills to provide post-anesthesia care to surgical patients.

2. How long does it take to become certified as a PACU RN?

Answer: The length of time required to become certified as a PACU RN varies depending on the individual's educational background, experience, and other factors. Generally, it takes anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of study and preparation before taking the certification exam.

3. What qualifications do I need in order to be eligible for the PACU RN Certification?

Answer: To be eligible for the PACU RN Certification, individuals must hold an active, unrestricted Registered Nurse (RN) license in their state of practice. Additionally, they should have at least one year of post-anesthesia care unit nursing experience within the last three years or completion of an accredited post-anesthesia care nurse residency program.

4. What is the cost of obtaining my PACU RN Certification?

Answer: The cost for obtaining your PACU RN Certification varies depending on what type of review course or program you choose. Generally, most review courses range from $100-$600 and certification exams usually cost $200-$400.

5. Where can I find study materials for the PACU RN Certification exam?

Answer: There are many online resources available for studying for the PACU RN Certification exam including websites such as Exam Edge and Kaplan Nursing which offer practice tests and study guides. Additionally, there are many books available such as Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination which provide comprehensive reviews of content found on the exam.