July 29, 2017

Details on Surgical Technician’s Job Duties in a Hospital

You can do all the research that you want to do on a Surgical Technician’s job duties, but it won’t really help unless; 1) You manage to get an unvarnished view of what it will be like and 2) You’ve got a vivid imagination. I’ve heard this career compared to that of nursing, and for the most part, that is simply not true. Obviously, we are a little similar, since we both work with patients, in the medical field, and we may work together, but that’s where the similarities end.

Most of my career, I’ve reported to a Registered Nurse if I’m working outside of the operating room, and either a nurse or the Surgeon himself if I’m inside. Now, the obvious part of that, is that if we’re inside a room where surgery is going on, or where surgery is about to start, EVERYONE answers to the surgeon. There’s just no exception to that policy that I’ve ever experienced, although I am willing to concede the idea that somewhere in the world, there is a hospital that runs differently from ours. I’ve never been a traveling Surgical Technician,  nor have I ever worked anywhere outside the United States, so I can’t really say much about what it’s like in other countries.

A Typical Day At Work

In my average day, I will probably be called “nurse” by patients or family members who happen to see me. Quite frankly, I don’t think that most of them know who a Surgical Technician is, or what she does, so it’s not that surprising that they assume I’m a nurse. I have had people become very upset with me because I cannot administer medication, answer most of their questions, or adjust/change an IV.

However, I don’t spend much of my time in the immediate area of patients or family members, outside an operating room, so it’s not a huge problem. I don’t want anyone thinking that patients yell at me every day.

At the beginning of my shift, I check to make sure of what surgeries are scheduled, and where I will be working. I also like to check who the doctor is that is doing the surgery. Just like in other jobs, I’ve got people that I love working with, people I tolerate working with, and people I give a mental groan about when I realize we’ll be working together that day. And just like with any other job, I make sure that nobody realizes who I don’t like working with. Now, I’ll also check the schedule before I go home each day, but as you’ll learn, those schedules can change with very little notice, so it’s always best to verify again. I will also use the autoclave, which is a machine that sterilizes all of the tools that are used in the hospital, including the ER and clinic. However, in some hospitals, there are separate personnel who do this, and if I worked in one of those facilities, I would just have to submit a request form for the tools I needed at the beginning of my shift. Everyone needs to understand that a Surgical Technician’s job duties can vary tremendously in each medical facility.

Each Surgeon has things that they like a certain way, and by the time you’ve been there a while and gotten to know them, you’ll know. Even on the first day you’re at a new hospital, or in a new department, there will probably someone there to tell you the size gloves that each surgeon wears, what kind of music should be played during the surgery, and other small item that are very important to the person performing the surgery. Immediately before that, I will ensure that the operating room is as clean and antiseptic as possible, according to the current standards. I’ll set the room up with everything we’ll need during surgery, including extras of everything like gloves, sponges, tools, etc. It’s vital to know how many of each you start with, and there’s an inventory list for them in every hospital I know of.

After the room is clean, I will go the patient and get them ready for their procedures. It’s important to note that in most other hospitals, this might be done in the operating room, but I work in a facility that likes it to be done in the patient’s room if possible. We believe that this gives the patient a little more privacy, and allows them a little more control over the situation. When they’re ready, I transport them, so they’ll be ready for their surgery.

In the operating room, the Surgeon, a resident ( if you work at a hospital that has students), and myself are often the only people who are scrubbing in. I usually wait till the others have scrubbed their hands, and then I help them put on their gowns, and tie them. I am the last one to get dressed and scrubbed.  Sometimes, you’ll have nurses who scrub in, but not all the time.

When we are in the operating room, I stand next to the surgeon. I will be responsible for a variety of things during the surgery. Everything from knowing exactly how many and what type of sponges and tools we start and end with, to handing each of the sterilized tools to the doctor, and even wiping of perspiration from the physician’s  forehead, are all things things I may be asked to do.

I am on my feet, moving,lifting, working, and sometimes ALMOST running my entire shift. I work very hard, and although my job requires a lot of planning ahead and hard work,  I love what I do. It’s just very important for anyone who is considering this as a career possibility to understand that a big part of my job involves being very close to both the surgeon and the person actually having the surgery. I’ve seen new Surgical Techs, or student techs, throw up or faint during a surgery. The human body is a fascinating thing, and it’s amazing to see it up close and personal, but it can also be very gross, very quickly.

I hope that anyone who is considering making this their career has the opportunity to strongly consider why they want to do it. It’s physically and emotionally demanding, but it’s also a wonderful job that is important to the medical field. I get to know that every day I go to work, I am having a positive impact on the quality of people’s lives. That’s a pretty neat thing to be able to say. A Surgical Technician’s job duties grow each year, so there will always be new things to learn and do.