If you Google “What is a surgical technologist?” you get many different answers, but they are all pretty much the same: A surgical technologist works as a part of the surgical team to deliver patient care and maintain a sterile environment. If I would have read that statement without doing further research, there is no way I would have wanted to train for this field. The good news is – we do so much more.
If you are thinking “This already sounds boring,” let me walk you through one case and change your mind.
The first thing we do during the day is our surgical hand scrub, which is so much more than just washing your hands. You’ll learn that in surgery, there is a particular way of doing pretty much everything. There are a certain number of times we have to stroke each finger, fingernail, palm, arm, and elbow with the scrub brush. Long story short, no matter how many times you do it, your arms will be Jell-O afterwards.
Next, we will make our way to the operating room (OR) where we are going to set up each case. This is when we have to count every instrument, every needle, every blade and every lap sponge we use. Sometimes there are a lot of instruments and needles. We are responsible for helping drape the patient, and making sure all of the surgeon’s instruments are working (this is important because sometimes surgeons get real testy).
Gowning and gloving the surgeon comes next, which sounds easy but you have to make sure you are doing all of this with a completely sterile technique. If you contaminate, you have to start all over, and you don’t want to do that. Then, the fun part begins – the actual surgery.
You are the one who passes all the instruments, including the knife, suture, hemostats, scissors and all other instruments to the surgeon. You keep track of all the needles, sponges and blades throughout the surgery, you communicate with the surgeon, you are one of the more important people in the OR in any surgery. You are up close and personal.