Role of the Surgical Technologist

October 18, 2013

What a Surgical Technologist Does

Do you really know what a Surgical Technologist does? This is one of the positions that not many people know about unless someone they know is a Surgical Tech..  Here is a detailed job description for an ST in 3 different roles.

The following description of the surgical technologist has been approved by the

American College of Surgeons and the Association of Surgical Technologists:

Scrub Surgical Technologist

The scrub surgical technologist handles the instruments, supplies, and equipment

necessary during the surgical procedure. He/she has an understanding of the procedure

being performed and anticipates the needs of the surgeon. He/she has the necessary

knowledge and ability to ensure quality patient care during the operative procedure and is

constantly on vigil for maintenance of the sterile field. Duties are as follows:

1. Checks supplies and equipment needed for surgical procedure

2. Scrubs, gowns, and gloves

3. Sets up sterile table with instruments, supplies, equipment, and

medications/solutions needed for procedure

4. Performs appropriate counts with circulator prior to the operation and before

incision is closed

5. Gowns and gloves surgeon and assistants

6. Helps in draping sterile field

7. Passes instruments, etc., to surgeon during procedure

8. Maintains highest standard of sterile technique during procedure

9. Prepares sterile dressing

10. Cleans and prepares instruments for terminal sterilization

11. Assists other members of team with terminal cleaning of room

12. Assists in prepping room for the next patient

Circulating Surgical Technologist

The surgical technologist assisting in circulating obtains additional instruments, supplies, and equipment necessary while the surgical procedure is in progress. He/she monitors conditions in the operating room and constantly assesses the needs of the patient and surgical team. Duties are as follows:

1. Obtains appropriate sterile and unsterile items needed for procedure

2. Opens sterile supplies

3. Checks patient’s chart, identifies patient, verifies surgery to be performed with

consent forms, and brings patient to assigned operating room

4. Transfers patient to operating room table

5. Assesses comfort and safety measures and provides verbal and tactile reassurance

to the patient

6. Assists anesthesia personnel

7. Positions patient, using appropriate equipment

8. Applies electrosurgical grounding pads, tourniquets, monitors, etc., before

procedure begins

9. Prepares the patient’s skin prior to draping by surgical team

10. Performs appropriate counts with scrub person prior to the operation and     before incision is closed

11. Anticipates additional supplies needed during the procedure

12. Keeps accurate records throughout the procedure

13. Properly cares for specimens

14. Secures dressings after incision closure

15. Helps transport patient to recovery room

16. Assists in cleaning of room and preparing for next patient

17. Performs urinary catheterization when necessary.

Second Assisting Technologist

The second assisting surgical technologist assists the surgeon and/or first assistant during the operative procedure by carrying out technical tasks other than cutting, clamping, and suturing of tissue. This role is distinct from that of the first assistant and may, in some circumstances, be performed at the same time as the scrub role. Duties include but are not exclusive to the following:

1. Holds retractors or instruments as directed by the surgeon

2. Sponges or suctions operative site

3. Applies electrocautery to clamps on bleeders

4. Cuts suture material as directed by the surgeon

5. Connects drains to suction apparatus

6. Applies dressings to closed wound

There are of course more detailed duties of the Surgical Technologist that come with more specialized training.  The longer you work in any specialty the more you will learn and be able to contribute to the team! In any area that you work you are an important member of the surgical team and an integral part of the patients care. Something I feel very strongly about is that we are an advocate for our patient who while in our care is usually asleep. We are their eyes and voice to use our surgical conscience to speak for them. Maintaining a sterile field and preserving their dignity are high on my list of duties.

What is your favorite part of working in surgery? Are you interested in working as a surgical tech? What was your favorite part of surgical tech school? Please comment below. We look forward to chatting with you!

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about Surgical Technologists check out these websites:

Community Care College

AST: Association of Surgical Technologists

NBSTSA | Certifying Agency | Surgical Technologists | First Assistants