Job Title: Surgical Technologist
Education: Community College
Previous Experience: I began working at a hospital in Monroe, La. I left my job to raise my family. I began my career again about 14 years ago. I started back to work in a small surgery center, went to work for a "for profit" hospital, and I have been at my present job, in a rural hospital for ten years.
Job Tasks: I am employed by a rural hospital which has a critical access designation. This means that we must have a certain number of patients for only a short period of time.
I work with surgeons who practice General, ENT, Ortho, Urology and General Surgeries. We do have an opthamologist that comes once a month. The personalities of the surgeons can become one of the most interesting parts of this profession.
I assist the surgeons by setting up the sterile surgical field, passing surgical instruments, holding retractors, cutting suture, and any other service the surgeon requires during the case. After the cases, we clean and set the room up for the next case. We then take our instruments back to the work area and we clean and reprocess the instruments.
Several times a week, we take call and are require to stay in town to be able to respond to emergencies within ten minutes. Our emergencies are usually appendectomies, stat C-Sections, gun shot victims, or motor vehicle accident victims. Sometimes we do see patients that require removal of a portion of the large or small intestines. Very interesting, but long, late hours.
We also place orders for the different supplies that are used in our operating room (OR) suite. Also, we order the different instruments and supplies that are specific to each surgeon.
It is a very exciting, demanding and rewarding career. Not for the faint of heart as call can put you in to many life and death circumstances that can be harrowing, but very rewarding.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is being able to interact with the patients. To bring comfort to those who are afraid of going into surgery and to visit with them afterwards in their rooms. This is one of the benefits of a small hospital.
The worst part of the job is that the call can be very taxing and draining. We have only 13 employees, and this means that we must work our regular day shift even after we have gotten called out for several hours during the night. We do not always get called out, but it is hard to rest when you always listening for the phone.
1. I would begin by getting my degree in Surgical Technology. You can get a two year degree associate degree or a four year advanced degree.
2. As a young technologist, I would recommend continuing on and gaining a first assistant status. With this designation, one may work for a hospital, surgery center, or for a particular surgeon in a particular specialty.
This requires more classwork, but one must also work as a Certified Surgical Technologist and gain the necessary skills needed to master the assistant position. Further certification is also required.
Additional Thoughts: Although the hours are sometimes long, it is very rewarding to be in this particular field. It is not so different from nursing, but the educational requirements are not as long.
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