Is Being a Surgical Technologist Right For You?
I feel like there is a lot about being a Surgical Technologist that people don’t know, or don’t understand. It’s simply not a career that is spoken much about, but we have a very important role in any hospital setting. It’s relatively easy to get started, and requires only a certificate from a community, junior, or technical college to get started, although as with most things, the more education you have, the better you are likely to do in your career.
I am frequently mistaken for a nurse, occasionally for a nurse’s, and I’ve been mistaken for a phlebotomist more than once. So far, no-one has thought that I am a doctor, although I am waiting for that day. I make it possible for the doctors and nurses to do their jobs, and to accomplish that, I spent a little over two years in school.
What YOU Need to Do BEFORE You Decide on a School or a Program
It’s obvious that because I work in a hospital, and literally work around “blood and guts”, I had to have an interest in science. Therefore, to get started, I needed to make sure I’d taken as many Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, and Chemistry classes as possible. The other part of it is what some people ( myself included) had trouble with, and nobody seems to talk about. So, I’ll talk about it.
There’s a big difference between high school math and college level math. The gap is even bigger if you ( also like me) took off a few years between high school and college. You have to be able to work on college level math and English, which means no remedial classes at the time you apply into, or are accepted into the Surgical Technologist program.
So, if you’re still in high school, or are new to college, you will definitely want to sharpen up your skills in those two subjects. At the majority of schools, you will also need to have an acceptable GPA to get into the programs. If you’re worried about yours, I encourage you strongly to contact the school you would like to attend, as well as the Surgical Technician department to see what the requirements are, as well as the related waiting lists and additional pre-requisites.
It is entirely possible for these to vary widely from one school to another, so if there is more than one school near you that meets your needs, you should check into all of them. It would be very rare, if not impossible, to find a legitimate school online that allows you to complete your training. This, like nursing, is true because so much of the learning that you will do has to be “hands-on”, and cannot be strictly book learning.
What You Need to Remember While You’re in School
It is very important to remember that in some hospitals, your skills are being watched and judged from the moment you set foot in the facility on your very first day of training. It sounds odd, but it’s true. I have seen many students receive lucrative job offers before they even graduated, and I have seen some students have an unofficial black mark placed against their names because of issues or behavior during their training. It might be ten years down the road, and there might be ten positions available in the hospital that desperately need to be filled, but I guarantee those black marks will still prevent them from getting a job.
I also try to tell everyone that they should be sure that they want, and have the time, to complete the training when they start. Each year, a great many students work very hard to be accepted into this program, get part-way through, and drop out. Depending on the reasons that an individual drops out, it can b really hard to get back to the same place. You also lose a lot of momentum, and it’s common for people to lose some of the knowledge that has been earned thus far. Try to plan ahead if at all possible, and if it’s not, do your best to stay on top of things.
What You Need to Remember After School
Regardless of your training program, or the school you attended, there is a lot of competition for jobs today. If you are fresh out of school, see if you can get personal references from your teacher or from people that work at the hospital where you did your clinical hours. Anything that might set you apart from the other applicants, in a positive way, might be enough to get you noticed. And getting noticed is a good step towards getting the job you want.
If you really don’t like classwork, you might want to know that every state currently requires a Surgical Technologist to earn a certain number of Continuing Education hours each year in order to maintain their license or certificate. Although the number of hours varies by state, no matter what, you will have to take these classes. Some hospitals offer them in-house, and I’ve also seen these classes taught online, but no-matter what, you will have to keep acquiring knowledge even when you think there is nothing else you should know.
I say that because you might be amazed to know how many people I have seen get in trouble, written up, or even have their employment terminated because they do not or will not earn these hours. It’s state law that most or all medical professionals have to spend some time each year learning about new information that has come up in their field.
What You Need to Decide if You’re Considering This Field
This field allows for a lot of stress at work, a lot of multi-tasking, and a lot of employee turnover.
In general, you should like people and get along with them, regardless of what else is going on. So, really, you need a thick skin and to not be sensitive to noise, blood, emotions, and even death. It’s also important to know that you will be in the room with people on a regular basis who die, and that you will be in the room assisting with a patient who dies shortly after.
This is an emotionally rewarding field, but you do need to learn how not to be attached to each patient.
If you do attach, it can actually be harder for you, because you might not ever know what happens to people after they leave the hospital, and if you see them in public, they will not know you. You’ll also very rarely get a thank you from the patient, although the nursing staff and the doctors often will.
We are support staff, and what we do allows others to do their jobs. We are very important.