November 20, 2017

Being a Surgical Assistant

The duties of a Surgical Technologist can include many different things in the course of the average workday. He or she will have to be able to multitask, and to be able to take orders or directions from many different people while at work. In other words, it’s a hard, but rewarding job to have.

What to Expect in a Typical Day at Work

The average day in the life of a surgical assistant is likely to include some or all of the following:

1) Getting patients ready for surgery, including making sure that they are in the correct room, bed and position before surgery.

2) Determine and meet the needs of the patients and operating room staff before and immediately after surgery. This can include things like maintaining the most appropriate temperature level in the room, being sure that everyone is comfortable and well-hydrated, and that the room is well-stocked with everything that will be, or could possibly be, needed during the procedures.

3) Be sure that all equipment, and as much of the area as possible, is sterile. You are not responsible for the walls or ceilings, but you are responsible for almost everything else being sanitized. This includes using a sterilizer to remove bacteria from surgical tools.

4) After surgery, clean and re-stock everything that was used during surgery. You will also be responsible for making sure that there is an accurate count done of equipment and smaller items, like bandages or sponges.

5) You’ll also have to make sure that when you stock things after surgery, that you are aware of preferences like the size of gloves that a surgeon wears, and the favored CD’s that should be available. I’ve worked with doctors who were larger then average, and it’s important to make sure that you have gowns AND gloves that will fit them…and backups just in case. I’ve been assisting when the last pair of XL gloves ripped, and it wasn’t fun.

6) You will need to be sterile, and you will need to help the other staff to be and remain sterile. You will, literally, be helping them to dress…those surgical gowns go on over their existing clothing, but don’t tie by themselves.

7) Other, assorted tasks as directed by the surgeon. Surgeons are like everyone else, they have really good days, and really bad ones. Some requests that you will get are reasonable, some may seem un-reasonable, but if they are within the normal scope of your duties, or will make the surgery go more smoothly, you should try to do them.

Skills That You Will Have To Have ( or Obtain) if You Want to Excel at Your Job

First of all, you will have to be able to understand people. And that is a lot more then hearing them, it means that you have to listen to what they’re NOT saying as well. The patient who tells you he is fine, but is flinching in pain and has his hands clenched, still needs help from someone. It may not be you, but you should pass it along to the nurse in charge of him. The older patient who is alone before and after surgery does not need you to ask why she’s alone, the reasons for it are probably sad.

You will need to be professional and courteous. I’ve been yelled at by countless doctors for things that weren’t my fault, and I absolutely cannot yell back. If I did, it would be a great way to be fired, or at least black-balled from working with that doctor. I’ve seen it happen, so you really have to be thick-skinned to work as a Surgical Assistant.

You will need to be observant. When we are in the operating room, I will usually be the closest person to the surgeon. If he has a problem, or his hands are unsteady…even if he drops something, it is my job to help or replace the offending item as soon as possible. If you go into this field, it will be your job to do that, and more, each day.

Things to Keep in Mind

It is important to remember that as a Surgical Assistant, you will come into contact on a regular basis with blood and other bodily fluids. Although it is always the goal of anyone in a medical setting to reduce or eliminate the possibilities of accidental un-protected contact, the fact of the matter is that it happens. The same is also true of infections, so you will need to make sure that you are up to date on all of your immunizations ( including the annual flu/Swine flu vaccines), if you want to stay healthy in this setting.

You will also be on your feet a lot. I am not one to spend a lot of money on frivolous things, but I cannot stress how important it is to have at least a couple of pairs of really good, supportive work shoes. I say at least a couple of pair because breaking in new shoes in this setting can get painful, so it’s best to do it gradually, and that’s easier if you have a comfortable pair of shoes to switch out with the new ones.

I have also noticed that people either love this job dearly, or they wash out pretty quickly. I have always found it odd that people pay for and make it through school, but then frequently wash out after only a year or two. However, it happens a lot. I’ve also seen a lot of people use this career as a way of stepping into the medical field. It’s a good job with flexible pay that usually offers good benefits, so that step makes sense.

A Surgical Assistant plays a very important role in a hospital or any surgical setting. I really believe that when we do our job correctly, things tend to go more smoothly. Obviously, things that still happen that I have no control over, but a capable, well-organized Surgical Assistant serves a more important role then even the most accomplished secretary. If a secretary makes a mistake, people don’t bleed. And when a secretary does her job perfectly and things go well, sick or injured people don’t manage to get better.

Read the article about Surgical Technologist Training.