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It may seem like anyone can perform the role of assistant to the anaesthetist. Whilst care of the patient is ultimately the responsibility of the anaesthetist, the assistant is a vital role much like the instrument nurse is to the surgeon – everyone deserves an awesome wingman or woman after all.

With this in mind, it may also be apparent that there are not many opportunities for the perianaesthesia nurse.

The following 2 sections will be focused on information retrieved from the leading resource on Perianaesthesia Nursing in Australia - the Australian College of Perianaesthesia Nurses [ACPAN] website


You may have seen credentialed nurses in other specialties – namely mental health. Credentialing provides a professionalism to the specialty along with the

In January 2019, the Australian College of Perianaesthesia Nurses [ACPAN] introduced the anaesthetic nurse credentialing program. In July 2019, the PACU nurse credentialing program was added. In October 2019 at the annual ACPAN conference, 5 anaesthetic nurses were inducted as Certified Anaesthesia Nurses.

The PACU Credentialing Program began at the end of 2019 & there will soon be inductees acknowledged as Certified PACU Nurses. Watch this space!

If you would like more information, please visit


In 2016, an innovative clinical leadership opportunity was offered by ACPAN. The Fellowship program was designed for Registered Nurses with a minimum of 2 years full time (or part time equivalent) anaesthetics & PACU experience.

The 12 month program consists of the following

· Financial membership of ACPAN

· RN (Div 1) AHPRA Registration

· Credentialed to Level 1 & Level 2 ACPAN Education Curriculum

· Current employment in the perianaesthesia specialty,

· A minimum of 2 years full time (or equivalent part time) experience in Perianaesthesia,

· Completion of a postgraduate certificate or above,

· Successful completion of an oral viva (a discussion surrounding clinical care of a patient undergoing anaesthesia or post-anaesthesia),

· Completion of adult & paediatric advanced life support,

· Completion of a perianaesthesia crisis management course.

There may be a time in the not-too-distant future where there will be a requirement of having at least 1 Perianaesthesia Nurse Fellow in each healthcare facility across Australia. Currently, there are over 40 Clinical Fellows across Australia.

For more information on this program, please visit


Some states have a void in anaesthesia professionals. In response to fill some of these voids, the Nurse Sedationist was created. This advanced anaesthesia nursing position was introduced over a decade ago however has not been widely accepted as an opportunity for anaesthetic nurses. This is mostly due to the ability to enhance the anaesthesia specialty in medicine & a stronger focus on anaesthesia in rural medical officer training.

The University of Adelaide in conjunction with Royal Adelaide Hospital saw an opportunity to expand the anaesthetic nursing role & to assist with some staffing issues. The program is a 3 year Masters degree which achieves Nurse Practitioner status as well.

A Consultant Anaesthetist oversees the Nurse Sedationists on shift so if there are any complications experienced or a discussion regarding the patient is required, there is expert help at hand.

It is important to note that this role does not replace an anaesthetist. In areas where operating lists requiring sedation & a qualified anaesthetist is not available, the nurse seditionist is able to fulfil the role.

It also important to note that you may have seen nurses administering sedation. This was under the direct guidance of a medical professional such as a proceduralist in interventional cardiology or radiology. In this instance, the proceduralist such as the cardiologist assumes responsibility for the administration of anaesthesia. That is not to say that the nurse is relinquished of care, safety or responsibility.


An avenue for our PACU nurses would be the pain management nurse practitioner. These individuals will have extensive surgical & medical experience & have a patient focus such as acute, sub-acute or chronic pain management.

In order to explore this career option, you would need to complete a Masters of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) & consider perhaps completing a PhD. This is a newer opportunity for the PACU nurse that will hopefully lead to many more future advanced practice options.

To explore further nurse practitioner opportunities, please visit

Do you have any ideas on where the future of advanced perianaesthesia nursing practice might be heading? Leave a comment below & let’s explore…

Now that you have a better understanding of the roles within perianaesthesia nursing, February sees us explore what anaesthesia is, the types of anaesthesia & the importance of preoperative assessment. So join Thrive next week as we break down what anaesthesia is.

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