7 Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Surgical Technologist
You’re considering a career in healthcare, and it’s no surprise. Healthcare needs aren’t going away any time soon, and there are a variety of careers available for all education levels and personality types.
While you probably know that many of these roles will require education or training beyond what you picked up in high school, you’d rather not spend several years in school for this new position. That’s a big part of why becoming a surgical technologist has you intrigued. The Rasmussen University Surgical Technologist Associate’s degree program can be completed in as few as 21 months—which means you can get started making a difference in patients’ lives relatively quickly.1
But how do you know if you’ll actually be good on the job? Are there certain inherent qualities that lend themselves well to the profession?
To help with that, we’ve rounded up a list of traits, tendencies and abilities that you’ll need in order to be effective as a surgical technologist. Does the list below sound like you?
You should consider working as a surgical technologist if …
1. You like working as a team
Sure, plenty of jobs require some level of coordination and teamwork to be effective, but few require the precision necessary for working in an operating room.
As a surgical technologist, you’ll assist surgeons, registered nurses and other surgical personnel as they perform operations. Not only is that a lot of different people to be coordinating and connecting with, but they have to be entirely on the same page to ensure procedures are completed as efficiently and safely as possible.
It’s important that surgical techs have great coordination and can adjust in relation to others’ movements—nobody wants to drop a sharp instrument or cause delays because of an awkward handoff. Between transporting patients, adjusting lights and equipment, and managing a whole host of surgical supplies, good coordination is a must for a successful surgical outcome.
2. You’re good with equipment
Speaking of all that surgical equipment, there’s a lot of it involved in a surgery. Surgical techs often manage electrosurgical or electrocautery equipment, such as argon beam coagulators, spark-gap electrosurgical units, medical staplers and all sorts of specialized tools.
If you’ve always had a knack for fixing cars or working with a new gadget or device, you might find yourself right at home in the operating room, handling equipment that helps save lives.
3. You’re an excellent listener
Surgical techs need to practice active listening in different types of situations. Whether you’re communicating directly with a patient or closely following the instructions provided by the head surgeon, you’ll need to be able to lock in and focus on what is being told to you.
Most surgeons have high expectations of their surgical team, and mental errors due to a missed cue or lack of focus are not well-received. It may seem intense initially, but the bar needs to be set high when patient health and safety are on the line.
4. You’re precise
Are you a meticulous note-taker? Live your life by the “measure twice, cut once” rule of home improvement? Surgical technologists put these tendencies to use every day. For one, they need to keep a careful inventory of all equipment brought into the operating room as lost or forgotten surgical items can pose serious risks for infection and health complications.
Additionally, surgical techs must follow their surgeon’s preference cards to a “T”—these provide an exact list of the equipment and settings needed for the upcoming procedure, and any deviation can cause serious problems or delays.
5. You’re calm under pressure
While not every procedure a surgical tech will assist with is going to be as intense as emergency surgery, there are still going to be a lot of situations where you’ll need to keep your nerves during tense situations. When you step into the operating room, you’ll need to be prepared for a heightened level of tension. If you’re able to keep yourself composed when faced with unexpected challenges or issues, you’ll be well-suited for life as a surgical tech.
6. You’re not squeamish
Do you rarely look away when watching horror movies? Don’t bat an eye if your kid gets queasy? That can be an asset for someone in a role that comes with a rare view of the human body—and of the not-so-easy-to-stomach elements that come with it. While it’s hard to know for sure how well you’ll handle the sights of surgery until you’re actually in the room, it certainly helps to not be easily phased by what most would shy away from.
7. You have excellent fine motor skills
There’s a lot of manual dexterity and the proper use of surgical tools and machinery required of a surgical tech. There are assessments that can determine if you have above-average abilities in the area of fine motor skills, but you can rest assured that your skill is probably better than most if you have great handwriting, play an instrument or have a lot of grip strength.
In the OR, you’ll often find yourself adjusting tools and manipulating objects to achieve the most efficient and best results. A firm, unerring grip is essential to making sure tools stay sterile and machinery is set at the right levels.
Is a career as a surgical tech part of your calling?
If you’re consistently checking the box for the qualities and capabilities above, becoming a surgical technologist might be in the cards for you. You’re already naturally inclined to thrive—all that’s missing are the technical skills to complement your existing ones.
Learn more about the actual day-to-day duties on the job in our article Surgical Technologist Duties: A Day in the Life.
1Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and courses completed each term.