What Do Surg Techs Do? 4 Challenges Uncovered
Healthcare occupations can be tough. Standing through long surgeries can be tougher. Putting the two together can result in some pretty stressful circumstances. However, the reward of helping to save the lives of patients as a Surgical Technologist is incomparable. Yet, being aware of the challenges involved in this career in surgery before diving in is crucial. So what do Surg Techs do exactly? Let’s find out covering four of the most important challenges to be aware of before embarking on a path to this career:
As imagined, surgeries can be extremely high stress. There can be little discussion, no room for error and great focus involved. Therefore, the setting can become extremely intense, and Surgical Technologists need to be prepared to handle this kind of stress.
Additionally, they should be prepared for surgeons to sound a bit demanding, without using “pleases and thank yous” as they seem unnecessary given the time constraints and focus involved in surgery. This means that these professionals cannot succumb to stress easily, and should be able to keep calm in even the toughest of scenarios. After all, maintaining a successful team dynamic can have serious consequences, even determining the life or death of a patient.
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Due to the fact that surgeries must occur as needed, sometimes during the evening hours, sometimes at night, Surgical Techs must be prepared to not necessary work the standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift.
“Normal hours for this career are 6:30 am to 3 pm, 10: 30 am to 7pm or 3 pm to 11pm,” Kevis Oliver, CST, a practicing Surgical Technologist in Texas, said. “However, some places that are open all hours of the day have 7 pm to 7 am, or 11 pm to 7 am shifts.”
Additionally, their shifts may be long and involve them being up on their feet for the majority of the time. For some, this is not ideal, nor is it feasible for health or mobility reasons. Thus, factoring in this element of the career is important. However, there are opportunities to work more standard hours depending on the employing facility, but if this is a stipulation of the Operating Room Technician, shift hours should be addressed prior to hiring.
Adapting to a particular case
“Having a great personality, not being squeamish around blood and body parts, having great people skills, being a selfless person and having overall consideration for others are qualities Surgical Technologists should possess,” Oliver said. “However, they should also be able to adapt to any situation.”
Each patient’s case is different, and with it individual challenges may arise. Although it is the Surgeon’s purpose to identify when a case or treatment needs adapting, Surgical Technologists must be able to keep up with any and all changes being made during a surgery. While they are not performing the incisions, Surgical Technologists are responsible for having all of the necessary tools on standby, and handing them to the Surgeon or Physician as needed. So, if at any point during a surgery the case changes from one that is laparoscopic (meaning that a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs in the abdomen or to allow for a surgical procedure to be done) to a open case (meaning that the equipment and instrumentation necessary to perform the surgery may change quickly), the Surgical Technologist must be flexible, ready and prepared. Think you can handle this career in healthcare? Explore surgical technology program options!
While a Surgical Tech may desire to assist in a variety of surgeries, learning as much as they can about both invasive and non-invasive procedures, a diverse background in the field is not always the best approach to becoming successful. Rather, because different types of surgeries possess their own unique complexities, Surgical Technologists may be better off focusing in on one or a few specialties within the realm of surgery.
“A Surgical Technologist should always be asking, ‘How do I get better?’” Oliver said.
In doing so, specialization can be key. Although narrowing down the scope of one’s work may sound like it would make the career less difficult, in actuality, it is much easier to learn “a little about a lot” than “a lot about a little.” So, as a Surgical Technologist buckles down and begins researching and learning the details regarding their specific specialty or specialties, the information load may seem overwhelming. However, becoming an expert in these specialties can be greatly beneficial both during surgeries and in knowing the background about each surgery beforehand. It can also help Surgical Techs to better prepare for upcoming surgeries, and to help them determine what tools may be needed in many different possible scenarios.
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