Surgical Tech's Role
You might not have already heard about them, but surgical technologists are an important part of the healthcare team – primarily working alongside surgeons, anesthesiologists, and registered nurses in providing assistance during surgical procedures. They are also commonly known as operating room technicians or scrubs. The duties and responsibilities performed by surgical technologists are aimed at making sure that surgical procedures are carried out with patient safety in mind. It is up to them to ensure that the operating room and the surgical tools and equipment to be used are conducive for performing surgery.
history of surgical technologists dates back during the
World War I and World War II, when they were serving for
the military as “medics”. Since nurses were prohibited
from working at the battlefield during that time, it was
necessary to come up with a new profession in the
military, and they were referred to as Operating Room
Technicians. The governing body for operating room
technicians during that time was the Association of
Operating Room Technicians (AORT). Today, the AORT is
known as the Association of Surgical Technologists
(AST), and the term operating room technician was also
changed to surgical technologist.
Before any surgical procedure is carried out, the surgical technologist is always present in the operating room in order to prepare the instruments and equipment to be used and make sure that they are sterilized properly. They also perform standard safety practices prior to an operation such as proper washing of hands and shaving. Technologists also provide assistance to patients prior to surgery by transporting them to the operating room, positioning them in the operating table, checking their vital signs, covering them with sterile drapes, and disinfecting the area subject to surgery. They must also observe that they put on safety clothing such as sterile gowns, masks, and gloves before surgical procedures commence.
While surgical procedures are being performed, surgical technologists hand over the specific surgical instrument and sterile supplies that the surgeon needs. This means that they must have sufficient understanding of the procedures being carried out so that they can anticipate what the surgeon needs. Once surgery has been completed, surgical technologists provide assistance in the application of dressings in surgical wounds. They are also responsible for handling, care, and disposal of specimens used in laboratory procedures. Technologists may also be asked to help move patients to the recovery room after surgery, after which they prepare the operating room for the next patient and ensure that supplies are replenished.
If you are considering becoming a surgical technologist, you must first receive training and complete an accredited surgical technology program. Training programs are available in community colleges, vocational/technical schools, and universities. Your training program will usually consist of classroom hours and laboratory work. Clinical externship will also be taken up in the latter stages of your training. It is important to note that surgical technologists do not perform any surgical procedures – they merely provide assistance before, during, and after surgery. Despite that, anyone looking venture this career must be in great physical shape, and have good manual dexterity, a keen eye for details, and of course have a strong stomach during surgical procedures.