Life in the operating room (OR) can be hectic and demanding, with life-threatening emergencies often occurring despite hours of careful planning and prep. As a key member of the team, the surgical technologist must anticipate the needs of the patient and the surgeon to ensure that each operation goes as smoothly as possible.
Here are the tasks a surgical technologist must perform and be prepared for with every surgery:
The surgical technologist is the first person to enter the OR before surgery. During this preoperative phase the surgical technologist adheres closely to the following routine:
The most important part of this preoperative phase is creating and maintaining the OR’s sterile environment. Sterile fields can be compromised in a variety of ways, the most common of which is by introducing moisture. To prevent this, the surgical technologist is responsible for arranging dry drapes around the operating table and keeping all surfaces in a sterile condition.
During the intraoperative phase of the surgery, surgical technologists are still responsible for maintaining the sterility of the OR, but they also effectively become a “third hand” to the surgeon and surgeon’s assistant during the procedure and perform the following tasks:
At any time during an operation, if a tool is missing or contaminated, the delay or resulting infection could cost a patient his or her life. That is why surgical technologists must be diligent and thorough at all times.
As the operation concludes, surgical techs are responsible for the following:
While surgical techs aren’t expected to work miracles, they must be able to think quickly on their feet in emergency situations. During a recent hospital blackout and emergency generator failure, one quick-thinking surgical tech, with the help of the patient’s family member, rounded up enough cell phones to illuminate the OR while surgeons completed an emergency appendectomy.
If you’re up to these four tasks and you think a surgical tech career is your calling, browse our directory of surgical technologist schools, request information about programs that interest you, and get started today.
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