What Does a Surgical Technologist Do?

Looking to become a vital part of the healthcare industry? Surgical technology may be for you. Surgical technologists are essential to patients undergoing surgery, though their roles often vary between healthcare facilities. Surgical technicians may also be referred to as operating room technicians.

What does a surgical technologist do?
A surgical technologist assists before, during, and after surgical operations. The Association of Surgical Technologists stresses that technicians possess “expertise in the theory and application of sterile and aseptic techniques, combining the knowledge of human anatomy, surgical procedures, and implementation of tools and technologies to facilitate a physician’s performance of invasive therapeutic and diagnostic procedures.”

Surgical technology involves many tasks:

  • Before surgery
    Surgical technology involves an intimate knowledge of aseptic techniques – those that reduce the risk of infection in patients. This is done with the
    proper and sterile preparation of operating rooms, monitoring the cleaning, sterilization and function of instruments, and cleaning and disinfecting surgery sites prior to operation. Surgical technologists often help prep surgeons and nurses after they have scrubbed in for entry into this sterile environment, assisting them with operating room clothing, caps, and gloves.
  • During surgery
    During surgery, surgical technologists provide hands-on assistance to the surgeon. The ability to visually tolerate surgical operations, the capability to follow directions quickly and accurately, and the thorough knowledge of the names of surgical equipment are integral to success in surgical technology. The technician must also remain alert throughout the surgery to ensure no sterile procedures are violated, in addition to monitoring vital signs, taking care of specimens, assisting with dressings, and preparing medication.
  • After surgery
    Following surgery, technicians often assist with the transportation of patients to and from the operating room, delivering charts and arranging room locations as needed. They are also typically responsible for the removal, maintenance, and cleaning of all instruments used in the procedure, as well as prepping the room for subsequent patients. 
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A surgical technologist may also fill specific roles within the hospital environment:

  • Scrub surgical technologist
    A scrub surgical technologist handles necessary surgical equipment, instruments, and supplies. In addition, they must maintain a constant vigil of the sterile field and overall patient care.
  • Circulating surgical technologist
    In this role, the technologist obtains necessary equipment, instruments, and supplies while the surgery is in progress, constantly monitoring and assessing the needs of both the patient and the surgical team.
  • Second assisting technologist
    Sometimes performed in conjunction with the scrub role, a second assistant carries out technical tasks with the exception of cutting, clamping and suturing. Tasks typically include handling instruments during procedures, cutting sutures, applying dressings, sponges, or suction, and more.

Surgical technologists are in high demand:

  • Today surgical technology is one of the fastest growing professions in the country.
  • The volume of surgeries is expected to increase exponentially due to the expanding senior population.
  • According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), job growth is projected to grow faster than average through 2020.

A career in surgical technology is a great gateway to other healthcare positions:

  • Senior technicians that supervise and train staff.
  • Specialized technicians, such as those who assist in open heart surgery.
  • With additional training, surgical assistants that take a more active role in surgery, helping with suctioning, suturing, and more.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to perform a central role in the healthcare community by ensuring the smooth, efficient operation of surgical procedures with surgical technology.

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