Surgical technologists are valuable members of surgical teams. Also known as surgical technicians or operating room technicians, surgical technologists are mainly tasked to assist surgeons, registered nurses and other members of the team during a surgery. Most, if not all, operating room technicians employed in medical facilities have obtained their surgical technologist training and certification. These credentials, especially surgical technologist certification, are required by most employers before job admission to ensure that the applicants are knowledgeable, competent and able to deliver improved quality of patient care.
Although education, training and a surgical technologist certification, are essential in this field of health care, having the right qualities and attitudes are just as important. A surgical technologist with an impressive transcript or records and resume may not succeed if he or she lacks the qualities needed to do the job efficiently and effectively.
The success or failure of a surgical procedure is always attributed to the knowledge and skills of the surgeons. However, surgical technologists, being a part of the surgical team, are responsible to perform tasks that may largely influence the outcome of the surgery. Certainly, they play a crucial role in maintaining or saving human lives. Surgical technologists deal with health and human life on a daily basis. When human lives are concerned, it is only essential to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready to deal with the roles and responsibilities assigned in order to maintain and preserve human life, especially in times of instability. Therefore, it is vital that aspiring surgical technologists should have the right qualities and attitudes before starting or building a career in this field of health care.
Each surgical procedure is a unique experience. Every case involves a different patient with a unique set of needs, diagnosis and clinical presentation. Some surgeries are emergency cases, whereas others may be elective. Some surgeries may be smooth sailing, but there are certain cases where complications or emergencies occur midway the procedure. Surgical technologists deal with situations that are not only stressful but unpredictable as well. For this reason, aspiring surgical technologists should have the ability to work effectively under pressure in a dynamic environment. They should be decisive or clear-thinking without being impulsive and out of control. Although the pressure may be overpowering, surgical technologists should have the ability to act accurately, quickly and reasonably. They must be compassionate without being overly attached or emotionally involved. Because they work with a team, they must learn to be a team player as well. Furthermore, being a part of a team, surgical technologists should be excellent in oral and written communication. Inability to communicate clearly may cause conflicts, inaccuracies and surgical complications.
Surgical technologists are vulnerable to injuries due to the frequent lifting and positioning of patients and heavy instruments. It is essential that they are physically healthy and that they have the stamina to perform these functions. In addition, there are cases when they are asked to assist in certain surgical procedures, such as in suturing, and so, it is essential that they have manual dexterity to complete these tasks.
Surgical technologist training is offered by community or junior colleges, technical schools, hospitals, universities and the military. At present, there are 450 institutions in the United States offering formal education and training accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP.