Remember the old ketchup commercial about anticipation? That jingle rings in my head from time to time and I can still picture that bright red ketchup slowly making it’s way out of the bottle and onto the burger. Being a surgical technologist is heavily dependent upon your ability to know what the physician is going to need next. In other words, you need to be able to anticipate their every need. You have to pay attention to everything going on in the surgical field. If I hand the surgeon a scalpel, I have a cautery pencil and a sponge ready in my other hand.
If the surgeon uses a tie to ligate a vessel, the next thing they need is… what?
Answer: Suture scissors to cut the extra from the knot.
These are characteristics of a surgical technologist that people don’t see. On TV, it seems like all the CST does is hand over instruments! When I had to take the CST test again last year, my sister volunteered to help me study. After asking me a few questions from the study book, she looked at me and said, “I had no idea how broad the knowledge base for surg techs was!” This is true for a lot of people. They have no idea just how much knowledge and skill a surgical technologist must have.
Surg Tech Responsibilities
We learn the names of surgical instruments even though there are quite a few! The first instrument test in class is over a general surgery instrument set which has 100 instruments. And specialty sets have even more! We also learn Pharmacology. When the doctor orders any kind of pharmaceutical to be used during the case, I have to know what it is, how strong it is, what it’s used for, and how the physician wants it to be given.
From Beginning to End
We learn how each case proceeds from the first incision to closing the incision. We need to know the whole procedure. That tells me what instrumentation is needed, what order, and what to anticipate. So when the doctor puts out her hand, I usually know what she needs without her asking.
THIS DOES NOT COME NATURALLY! It takes many cases with each physician to learn their preferences. However, you will learn this in time as a surgical technologist. It’s intensive training, but I’ve loved my job since the first surgery I assisted on as an extern while I was still in school.
The CCC Advantage
If you’re interested in a career as a surgical technologist, please contact us! We’d love to share this very interesting and rewarding career with you.
From the desk of Lita Fitch, Surgical Technologist Site Coordinator for Community Care College.
Learn more here!