How surgical technologists make a difference isn’t always obvious at first glance: sure, you see them passing implements and helping physicians scrub in, but outside of medical TV shows, most people don’t know much about what surgical technologists do. In fact, the most important skill for a surgical technologist is teamwork.
Much of contemporary surgical technologist training was developed in military hospitals and even on military bases. In these high-stress settings, surgeons need to be able to move very quickly and make very few mistakes to keep casualties as low as possible. This is where the surgical technologists make a difference: they complete the surgical team, and without them, surgeries would actually be impossible!
In the military, people who work in teams are trained in teams. This rule is applied not only in the air force and the navy but for those who work in military hospitals or as field medics. To handle life-threatening emergencies as quickly as possible, surgical technologists are trained side by side with the rest of the team, gaining much of their education right in the operating room. This way, they learn to almost read the minds of the surgeons they’re working with so that they can move in synchronicity, reacting quickly to a surgeon’s needs and avoiding time delays that might be very costly while they are deployed. Some of this training isn’t common sense! For example, the team in an operating room needs to know what patterns to walk in so that individuals don’t hesitate (or bump into one another) and waste valuable seconds trying to navigate the room.
Surgical technologists make a difference by being smart and alert team players – this is why, often, high school athletes make the best surgical technologists! When you’ve spent enough time trying to accomplish goals – whether in sports or in an operating room – with other people, you gain a specialized set of “people skills” that allow you to anticipate team members’ needs before they are pointed out to you. Especially during surgery, this set of skills saves many lives. (Who knew your sports acumen could translate into a healthcare profession?)
Another essential part of a surgical technologist’s teamwork-oriented mindset is the ability to keep other “players” on the team focused and calm. Many surgical technologists work in delivery rooms, where some members of the team have been trained to be there (e.g. the Ob/Gyn) and others, such as the dad, have definitely not been trained to be there! In a setting like this, the ability to “keep the peace” between the doctor, the patient, and the other delivery room staff can make the difference between a joyful birth experience and an unnecessarily stressful one.
Surgical technologists make a difference not only with the training they bring to the table – which, compared to that of some of the other professionals in the operating room, is only moderate – but with their ability to “click” with the other people they’re working with and get things done in sync.
If you have the personality of an exceptional team player, you might want to consider a rewarding career as a surgical technologist!
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