Surgical Tech

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What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

Surgical technologists are known by a variety of names, such as surgical techs, surgery techs, surgical technicians, surgical assistants, sterile processing technicians, operating room assistant, operating room technicians, OR techs, central supply technicians, laser technicians, scrub techs or scrubs.

Whatever name you prefer, the job remains essentially the same: To provide critical support to the surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who make up the modern surgical team. Surgical technologists can choose what areas they would like to specialize in: general, orthopedics, vascular, obsterics and gynecology (OBGYN), ear nose and throat (ENT), plastics, oral maxillofacial, ophthalmic, neurosurgery and cardiothoracic to name a few.

Surgical Tech Job Description

Tasks surgical techs perform are many and varied. Before a surgical procedure, these can include:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting the operating room
  • Counting sponges, needles and instruments
  • Washing and sterilizing instrumentation
  • Cleaning and restocking the operating room
  • Gathering supplies and equipment needed for surgical procedures
  • Arranging instruments according to instructions
  • Preparing the patient by shaving and disinfecting areas scheduled for incision

During a procedure, your duties could include:

  • Performing a surgical hand scrub
  • Assisting surgical team members with gown and gloves
  • Handing instruments and supplies to the surgeons and surgeon's assistants as needed
  • Holding retractors, cutting sutures and performing other tasks as directed by the surgeon
  • Assuring instrumentation, equipment and supplies are functioning properly during the procedure
  • Maintaining a proper sterile field

After the operation, your responsibilities might include:

  • Applying sterile dressings to the surgical incision site
  • Accounting for all sponges, needles and instruments used during the procedure
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the operating room so it will be ready for the next procedure

Surgical technologists generally work 40-hour weeks. However, those hours may be scheduled during weekday evenings, on weekends or on holidays, depending on the facility's needs.

As a surgical tech, you may find employment opportunities in hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, doctors' offices, delivery rooms and ambulatory surgery centers. After two years of experience, a surgical tech can also work as a traveling surgical technologist, and after three years or more as an instructor.

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