Life As A Surgical Technologist (A Career Snapshot) - MedCerts

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The operating room (OR) is a high-pressure, high-intensity work environment. Many people thrive there and do great work, impacting people's lives every day. If you think you'd do well in that environment, consider a career as a surgical technologist.

What to Expect: The Ups and Downs of Being a Surgical Technologist

A surgical technologist is part of a skilled OR team that includes surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists. It's all about teamwork and fitting into the rhythm of the room. Don't expect to get there immediately though — there's an acclimation process.

You'll learn every day, but you must be on your game from day one. A patient's life depends on the team doing everything correctly, including you. You need to be there with the right instrument at the right time.

Some surgeons and surgical teams can be unforgiving. You need thick skin to step into the operating room as a surgical technologist. If you make a mistake, they might be tough on you. They need to be — it's life or death.

And, of course, there's the blood issue. Not everyone can handle seeing and touching blood on a daily basis. Not everyone wants to see a patient lie open on the table.

For some people, though, it's the most exciting work environment possible. If you've read this far and are more fired up than ever, great!

The Daily Top 10: What You'll Do Most

Life as a surgical technologist is exciting, but there's also a routine to follow. Here's what a surgical tech "day in the life" looks like.

1. Checking the Surgeon's Preference Card

A preference card tells the surgical technologist what the surgeon needs and where it needs to be. You'll check it before every procedure.

2. Setting Up and Counting Materials

Technologists use the preference card to place and count materials so everything is ready before the surgery begins.

3. Preparing Patients for Surgery

Technologists often perform patient prep tasks like positioning the person on the table or disinfecting the surgical site. These are critical tasks for infection control.

4. Passing the Instruments

Your most important job will be to anticipate the surgeon's needs. Instruments need to be at hand the second they're necessary.

5. Watching the Procedure

You'll learn about different procedures and what surgeons need for each task so that you can anticipate more effectively.

6. Maintaining the Surgical Site

You'll spend a lot of time holding retractors and controlling blood flow so the surgeon can work.

7. Counting the Instruments Post-Surgery

Many surgical instruments are small and easy to overlook. Technologists need to ensure they're all present and accounted for.

8. Clearing and Arranging Instruments

Surgical technologists are responsible for maintaining delicate instruments and putting them away in the correct places.

9. Decontaminating and Sterilizing Instruments

A non-sterile instrument can cause infection. Technologists need to sterilize every instrument after the procedure completely.

10. Prepare for the Next Day's Surgeries

A surgical technician's day isn't done until they're ready for the next.

Getting Started as a Surgical Technologist

Ready for this exciting career? The Surgical Technologist MedCerts program teaches the skills you'll need to land a job. Talk to an enrollment counselor today, and get one step closer to the medical career of your dreams.

Please Note: This program has additional enrollment requirements; view our program page to ensure eligibility prior to submitting information.

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Published on November 21, 2022


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