Surgical Technologist Jobs

Surgical Technologist Job Description

First and foremost, the surgical technologist must follow the employer or hospital policy. If the hospital policy allows surgical techs to do some things and not others, that is what is followed. If there is not a policy in place, a surgical tech should follow state

What types of surgeries do surgical techs assist with?

While there are some CSTs who specialize, most must know how to assist on all procedures within all surgical specialties. These specialties include: cardiology, gynecology, neurology, urinary, orthopedic, peripheral vascular, optometric, “plastic” surgery, and general surgery just to name a few. Some examples of orthopedic surgeries include anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair, total hip and knee replacements. Examples of OB-GYN related surgeries include tubal ligations, hysterectomies, and cesarean sections.

How is the set up for various types of surgeries different?

Although surgical techs assist with a wide assortment of surgeries, their role and the way they prepare for these surgeries remains, for the most part, the same. They still follow the same steps for preparation and ensure the appropriate instruments and equipment are ready for the specific type of surgery they are assisting with. The draping of the patient varies from one surgery to the next. The manner in which instruments are handed to the surgeon can also vary slightly from one surgery to the next. For instance, for eye surgeries the instruments are very small and in orthopedic surgeries, larger tools like power saws, can be involved. Also, many eye surgeries involve looking through a microscope while passing instruments to the surgeon. So while the overall job responsibilities are the same across surgeries, each surgery is unique in how those duties are carried out.

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Do surgical technologists ever interact with patients?

A surgical technologist typically does not have much interaction with patients while the patient is awake. Prior to the surgery, the surgical tech usually introduces himself/herself to the patient, but many times the patient does not comprehend what is taking place due to the preoperative medications. Also, sometimes in smaller, rural hospital settings the surgical tech, rather than circulator, transports the patient from their ward room to the preoperative department and from PACU to their ward room.

Who do surgical technologists work with?

During a surgery, a surgical technologist works with a surgical team. This team consists of the surgeon, surgical assistant or a secondary physician, and a circulating person, which is typically a registered nurse.

The responsibilities of a surgical technologist include the following:

  • Determining which supplies and equipment are needed for a surgical procedure. While this task may sound fairly simple, it takes a trained surgical technologist to be able to think through the normal anatomy and be prepared to encounter abnormal anatomy as well. For instance, different types of sutures are needed for different procedures.
  • Opening supplies and instruments in a sterile manner.
  • Performing the scrub and putting on the sterile gown and gloves.
  • Setting up the sterile back table on which the sterile supplies and instruments are opened. These need to be arranged and organized for the particular procedure. For example: the set up for a hernia is going to be different from a set up for an appendectomy.
  • Gowning and gloving the surgeon and assistants.
  • Putting the sterile drapes on the patient.
  • Moving everything up to the “field” for surgery. This involves moving the sterile back table and a small tray on wheels called the sterile Mayo stand. The instruments from the back table that will be used most often for a particular procedure are placed on the Mayo stand. The stand’s height is adjustable and is positioned over the patient to facilitate the surgical technologist passing the instruments to the surgeon.
  • Passing the instruments and supplies to the surgeon during the procedure.
  • Performing the counts for sponges, instruments and sharps. Surgical technologists, along with the circulator, perform the sponge, instrument, and sharp count three times; once before the incision, once before the body cavity is closed and once before the skin is closed. This will lessen the chance of a “preventable error” occurring where a sponge or instrument is mistakenly left inside a person during surgery. Some procedures have very few things to count so it is less daunting a task. However, in other situations, such as a trauma patient with over a hundred needles used to close a wound, counting can be a lot more essential and difficult.
  • Handling the tissue specimens. The surgical technologist is responsible for putting the tissue in a sterile container and labeling it with the side of the body it was taken from. The specimen is then sent to pathology. This is important because for instance, if a biopsy procedure is being performed to confirm is a person has lung cancer it is important to know which lung the specimen was removed from in order to ensure that the cancerous lung is treated.
  • Surgical technologists use the term “breaking down the sterile field” to describe the act of moving the Mayo stand away from the patient, removing the sterile drapes, and cleaning the patient. The circulator and anesthesia provider are then able to wake the patient, transfer the patient along with the help of the other surgical team members to the stretcher, and transfer them to the postanesthesia care unit (PACU).
  • While the patient is transported to the PACU, the surgical technologist breaks down the back table of all the instruments and supplies, discards anything disposable, like sponges, and puts the sharps in their appropriate container, and brings the other instruments to the central sterile supply, where they are sterilized. The surgical technologist then works with the circulator, once he/she has returned from transporting the patient, to clean the operating room and prepare it for the next patient.

Surgical Technologist Schools