In every successful surgery, the surgeons get all the credit. In truth, surgical technologists play a crucial role in the outcome of every surgical procedure. A surgical technologist, also known as a surgical technician or an operating room technician, is mainly tasked to assist surgeons, registered nurses and the other members of the surgical team during surgeries. As a valuable member of the team, a surgical technologist must be competent and conscientious at all times. He or she must have the ability to make quick decisions and think rationally in times of emergencies as well. In some facilities, a surgical technologist certification is required.
The roles and responsibilities of surgical technologists are essential before, during and after the surgery. Before the surgery, it is the responsibility of surgical technologists to set up the operating room. Surgical instruments needed for the procedure are prepared and organized. Sterile equipment, linens and solutions are put into place and maintained without the risk for contamination. The efficiency of non-sterile equipment is also checked. They also assemble and readjust the needed equipment, when necessary. Surgical technologists are also tasked to prepare the patients for surgery by shaving, washing and disinfecting the sites for surgery. After the preparation, they transport patients to the operating room and help in positioning patients on the operating table. Sterile linens are used to cover or drape the patients. It is also the duty of surgical technologists to monitor and observe the patients’ vital signs and to help the other members of the team in putting on their gloves, gown and masks.
During the surgery, surgical technologists are usually asked to hand out surgical instruments or other supplies to surgeons. They may also assist in cutting sutures and in securing the retractors in place. Before closing the incision, they assist in counting sponges and all the other instruments used during the surgery to ensure that nothing is left inside the wound. Surgical technologists also prepare and transport obtained specimens to the laboratory for analysis. In addition, they may assist in operating diagnostic equipment, suction machine and sterilizers. Maintaining the supply and the distribution of fluids and blood products during the surgery is also one their responsibilities. After the procedure, surgical technologists transport patients to the recovery room. They also clean and disinfect the operating room and refill the materials used.
Surgical technologist training is offered by vocational schools, community or junior colleges, hospitals, universities and the military. The length of education and surgical technologist training depends on the program to which a student is enrolled to. A diploma in surgical technology may be completed in five quarters. An associate degree is usually completed in two years.
A diploma in surgical technology includes courses that develop and enhance the skills of the student in assisting surgical procedures. Students may be required to complete courses in operating room and surgical procedures, patient care, sterilization and disinfecting techniques, anatomy and pharmacology and microbiology. Completion of the courses is required before they are qualified to sit for the surgical technologist certification exam.
An associate degree in surgical technology focuses on general medical sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, microbiology and pharmacology. It also includes operating room courses that improve the clinical and manual skills of the students. Safe patient care, surgical procedures and operating room techniques are the courses in classified in this category. Students should expect courses in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, microbiology and pharmacology. Operating room courses include safe patient care, surgical procedures and operating room techniques.