A Day in the Life of a Surgical Technician
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A Day in the Life of a Surgical Technician

Apr 08, 2010

What is it like to be a surgical technician? Busy. From start to finish you will have a very busy day preparing operating rooms, assisting physician and nurses, and cleaning up when the surgery has completed.

On a typical day you will arrive for your shift early enough to change into scrubs. Then you will consult with the OR schedule to find out what types of surgeries are scheduled for the day.  Along with the schedule there will be the assigned surgical technicians to prepare the rooms. Once you know which room you are assigned to you can begin to prepare.

For the most part you will be ensuring that the required “kits” are available – usually these kits are prepared during off times by surgical technicians like yourself. It is your responsibility to gather up all the required items for the surgery and make sure it is available when needed. When everything that is needed is in the OR you can scrub in to ensure you are sterile before you set up.

Before the patient comes into the OR, you will need to make sure that all the trays are set up, and you will count all the individual pieces in the room so you can account for them later. This can take up to an hour, but it is important that you work quickly and efficiently. When the patient arrives they will usually be under anesthesia. Then the surgeons and nurses will scrub in before the surgery begins.

When everyone is assembled you will assist the surgeon with draping the patient, so that only the area that is being operated on is exposed. You will also ensure that once the surgery begins only sterile members of the team are allowed near the patient – and the non-sterile members stay at least 12 inches away.

During the surgery you will assist the surgeon and other members of the team by handing them instruments and medications as required. When the surgery is complete and the surgeon is ready to close up the incision, you will count all the instruments again to ensure that nothing was left in the operating field. Then the surgeon will finish the surgery and the patient will be removed to a recovery room for observation.

You and some of the other staff will begin to clear up all the instruments so they can be sterilized and repackaged. All the non reusable items will be discarded in hazmat bags, the room itself will be disinfected, and then the next procedure will be set up.

Each surgery will be different, and they may last under an hour or up to 12 hours, depending on the complexity and severity. So you may need to set up, assist with, and clean up after quite a few surgeries, or just one or two. It all depends on the schedule and whether any emergency surgeries come up in the meantime.

As a surgical technician you will be expected to be knowledgeable about the tools and supplies needed for each type of surgery so that the surgeons have all the necessary implements to get the job done. The success of a surgery depends on you being able to provide everything necessary, and hand requested items to the surgeon quickly and accurately.

Being a surgical technician takes a lot of hard work, and you will be on your feet for most of the day – but it can be a fun and challenging job for those who embrace helping others and like staying busy. Perhaps it can be the right career for you too.

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