Surgical Technologists

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Also known as:
Certified Surgical Technologist, Operating Room Technician, OR Tech, Surgical First Assistant, Surgical Scrub Technologist, Surgical Technologist

ABOUT SURGICAL TECHNOLOGIST CAREERS
Video transcript

Surgical technologists and technicians are indispensable members of the modern medical community. They are needed to help set up the operating room - sterilizing and setting out the necessary surgical instruments, making sure the equipment is working properly. They may also prepare patients for a procedure, by shaving and cleaning incision sites. The job also can involve transporting patients to the operating room and covering them with sterile drapes.

Surgical technologists and technicians work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and in private doctors' and dentists' offices where surgical procedures are performed. Sometimes they're hired by a specialized surgeon to be what's called "private scrubs," joining a team trained for complex procedures, such as transplants.

This career requires the ability to handle blood, laboratory samples, communicable diseases, strong odors, and surgical procedures without flinching. Night and weekend work is common. Training for a surgical technician's certificate lasts 9 months to 2 years, is available at community and junior colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and in the military.

High-school graduation is usually required for admission to these programs. Once you're certified, you are required to re-certify periodically through continuing education or examinations. You have to demonstrate you are reliable, orderly, capable with your hands, and emotionally stable. Someone's life might well depend on it.

SNAPSHOT
Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. May help set up operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeons' assistants, hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
LOW
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Operate, assemble, adjust, or monitor sterilizers, lights, suction machines, or diagnostic equipment to ensure proper operation.

Order surgical supplies.

Count sponges, needles, and instruments before and after operation.

Prepare, care for, and dispose of tissue specimens taken for laboratory analysis.

Prepare dressings or bandages and apply or assist with their application following surgery.

Maintain a proper sterile field during surgical procedures.

Hand instruments and supplies to surgeons and surgeons' assistants, hold retractors and cut sutures, and perform other tasks as directed by surgeon during operation.

Wash and sterilize equipment, using germicides and sterilizers.

Scrub arms and hands and assist the surgical team to scrub and put on gloves, masks, and surgical clothing.

Prepare patients for surgery, including positioning patients on the operating table and covering them with sterile surgical drapes to prevent exposure.

Provide technical assistance to surgeons, surgical nurses, or anesthesiologists.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Medicine and Dentistry Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
TOP SKILLS
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Instructing Teaching others how to do something.