What Makes a Good Surgical Technologist?

April 24, 2018

What makes a good surgical technologist, you ask me? The answer is that many things add up to make a good tech. You must be a good interpreter of what your surgeons ask for. You need to be able to know what, “Give me the thingy that does that thing I like” or, “Give me the thingamajig” are referring to.

Being a surgical technologist is definitely not for the faint of heart. You must be able to stand for long hours, not eat, and work and focus on the task at hand all with a full bladder. No two cases are alike and no two surgeons are either. A good tech will learn each surgeons’ preference and know how to adapt to a fast-changing environment. A simple procedure can turn bad in just a matter of seconds sometimes and you must be able to be quick on your feet and be a good problem solver.

Sometimes the tech is the one the keeps the surgeon calm when there is a lot going on. A tech can make or break the surgery. A good surgical tech will also know how to read the emotions in a room. This is a vital characteristic. You need to be able to take subtle tones from your surgeon on what may be appropriate talk for that day or if the surgeon wants any talk period. It may be a high-stress case and the surgeon needs to focus. You must be good at taking those subtle cues. We can only sometimes communicate with our eyes and you can express a lot with just your eyes. A good tech will know that.


A good tech will anticipate their surgeon and operating room staff needs without being asked. Perception is key in this field. How you are perceived is huge. A good scrub tech will always bring their A game. We all have bad days but a good tech will leave those problems, whatever they are, at the door to be able to focus on the task at hand.

A good scrub tech has a certain level of knowledge that their surgeons depend on, a lot of surgeons will request a particular tech to be in their room whenever they are working. The skillset that the tech holds is different than the surgeon’s skillset but is still highly important to the success of the surgery.

Surgical techs play a critical role in producing a positive outcome for the patient. A good surgical tech is the patient protector in the operating room as well. We are our patients’ advocate when they cannot speak for themselves. This means speaking up, when you may be scared to challenge the surgeon, the circulator, or even anesthesia. It is our job, always. A good scrub tech will always be one step ahead.

From the Desk of Ashley Legg, Surgical Technologist Site Coordinator