National Surgical Technologist Week: Celebrate Those Behind the Masks

“They say practice makes perfect. Theory is, the more you think like a surgeon, the more you become one. The better you get at remaining neutral…clinical. Cut, suture, close. And the harder it becomes to turn it off, to stop thinking like a surgeon, and remember what it means to think like a human being.” – Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy, Episode 1

Being a surgical technologist is hard work. It often pulls at the heart strings and can affect whether somebody lives or dies. To acknowledge all of the difficult tasks expected of a surgical technologist, Sept. 16 through Sept. 21 of this year has been designated National Surgical Technologist Week.

The job of a surgical technologist may appear to go under the radar, but their role is very complex and a huge reason why many surgeries are able to run seamlessly.

“Today, thousands of different surgical instruments are used. A single surgery may require more than 600 instruments,” said the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). “With the seemingly infinite types of surgical equipment in use – lasers, robots, neurosurgery devices, retractors, scissors, clamps and fluids – having a competent, educated surgical technologist on the team is vital.”

In addition, a surgical technologist must have outstanding communication skills and be able to anticipate the needs of the surgeon.

As a new surgical technologist, “You have to trust yourself, and you have to ask questions,” said Rasmussen College surgical technologist graduate Summer Blakey. “If you don’t a surgery could get delayed, a surgeon could be discouraged or a patient may need to be under anesthesia longer.”

However, anticipating the needs of a surgeon are only one fraction of what a surgical technician does; they have many duties before, during and after a surgery.

Before a surgery takes place, a surgical technician will:

-       Make sure surgical instruments, drapes and solutions are sterilized.

-       Gather surgical equipment and make sure it is working correctly.

-       Prep patients by cleaning and disinfecting incision sites.

-       Position and drape patients accordingly.

-       Monitor patient’s vital signs and checks charts.

“During procedures, the surgical technologist stands next to the surgeon and the patient, helping the surgeon with equipment throughout the surgery, expediting surgical procedures by swiftly passing and skillfully using appropriate surgical instruments, and monitoring surgical instruments and supplies to ensure no foreign objects are retained,” AST said.

After a surgery, a surgical technologist’s main responsibility is to count sponges and supplies to ensure no instruments were left inside a patient.

Surgical technologists remain an important asset to a surgery team. The demand for degree-credentialed surgical technologists continues to rise and a career as a surgical technologist can be very rewarding and can give you a sense of pride.

Are you ready to take on the task of making a difference in a patient’s life by embarking on the journey of becoming a surgical technologist? Tell us your feelings below in the comment section.


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Jennifer is a Content and Social Media Specialist at Rasmussen College. She researches, writes and edits blog posts designed to help and inspire current, past and future students through their entire educational process in an effort to encourage learning at a college level and beyond.

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