“Patients don’t know who we are or what we do, but they trust everyone in the room to take care of them,” said Stephanie Allen, surgical technology instructor at Herzing University. “I take pride in knowing that a patient trusts me to do my job well and to be their advocate.”
You’ve probably heard of them before—medical surgical technicians, med surg techs, surgical tech, operating room technician, or scrub tech, these healthcare heroes have many names. They’re the healthcare professionals in and out of the operating room (OR) all day long, the hard workers who prep the OR to ensure patient safety, and those patient individuals who act as a surgeon’s “third hand.”
What is the role of a med surg tech?
There’s a good chance you already know who surgical technicians (STs) are—you just may not realize it. Have you ever thought about who cleans and sterilizes surgical equipment? Or, have you wondered who preps patients for surgery or who gets them to recovery? That’s right—you’re thinking of STs.
Med surg techs play an integral role in the healthcare industry. Unlike most other healthcare careers, med surg techs are involved in every step of the patient care process—preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative.
Preop, or before surgery, med surg techs are responsible for all the prep work for both the patient and the operating room. As the first person to enter the OR, med surg techs have the task of creating and maintaining the room’s sterile environment. They also gather the necessary equipment and tools to sterilize, count, and carefully arrange them for the surgeon.
As for patient preparation, surgical techs get them ready by shaving their incision spot, positioning the patient on the operating table, disinfecting their incision site, and draping the patient. Once the OR and the patient have been fully prepped, surgery can begin.
“When it comes to surgery, the ST is an expert,” said Allen. “We’re expected to know everything—the anatomy and physiology of the body, how the procedure is to be performed, and multiple different variations of the procedure.”
The most time-consuming role of an OR tech comes intraoperatively. No matter what type of surgery it is, surg techs become the “third hand” to the lead surgeon and first assistant. There to provide a helping hand, med surg techs offer sterile surgical instruments to the surgeon as requested, prepare medications and administer to patient, plus keep track of each tool used during the procedure.
“The most two important skills for any ST to demonstrate is the ability to remain calm under pressure,” said Allen. “And to anticipate the surgeon’s needs before he or she even knows what’s next.”
Once the procedure is complete, OR techs suture the patient’s incision and apply disinfected dressing to the area. These skilled healthcare professionals then count the tools used during the surgery, dispose of waste, and get the patient to the recovery ward.
Med surg techs are a crucial member of an operating room team. As such, they must have the physical ability to be on their feet for long periods at a time, as well as the mental capacity to cope with the hectic demand of the operating room.
“Working in the operating room can be challenging,” Allen shared. “Learn from your mistakes and work harder the next time.”
Perks of being an OR tech
Life as an OR tech is a career where you know you make a positive impact in countless lives. From patients to surgeons and other hospital workers, med surg techs offer support to everyone they touch throughout the healthcare journey.
“You’ll come across amazing success stories about how a patient recovered due to a procedure you helped make possible,” said surgical tech, Anthony Mareno, to Rasmussen University. “You’ll feel as though you were a part of the team that changed a patient’s life forever, and that’s because you were!”
In addition to improving lives, a career as an OR tech offers many benefits:
- Professional growth. According to the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the med surg tech profession is expected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029. Part of this shift in demand is due to aging baby boomers. Another reason is due to advanced technologies that make more surgeries safer.
- No day is the same. Every day as a med surg tech brings new patients, new surgeries, and new procedures to learn. A surgical tech wrote for Rockford College and said: “My job is never mundane. Each day brings a new patient and unique challenges to the table.”
- Part of a healthcare team. As a surgical technician, you work alongside surgeons, registered nurses, anesthesiologists, physicians, and other members of the healthcare team to ensure patient health.
- Education requirements. Unlike a surgeon who requires years of formal education, med surg technicians require an associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate in surgical technology from a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Depending on the facility, OR techs need six months to two years of current OR experience before they can hit the road as a professional traveler.
- Flexible work schedules. After time as a professional surgical tech, you have the power to choose your ideal schedule. As a healthcare traveler, you also have the freedom to decide where your next assignment will take you.
“Have fun and be open to learning every day,” said Allen. “This is such a great career with so many growth opportunities. Never give up and strive for more.”
Find your next surgical tech travel job with Fusion Marketplace
Between the hundreds of surgical tools and procedures to remember, you may not have the energy to search through thousands of job opportunities all over the internet. No problem! Instead, accelerate your career with Fusion Marketplace and land your next travel surg tech assignment quickly and efficiently.
Developed specially for healthcare travelers, Fusion Marketplace is an all-inclusive traveler-first community that allows you to connect with nationwide staffing agencies and travel jobs that offer what you need.
To begin, create a traveler profile and input your employment and education experience, certificates earned, references, and job preferences. This information is simple to edit and add to, plus forever lives in your profile to automatically create a professional resume so you can apply to multiple jobs at a time.
The search for your next travel placement begins after your Marketplace profile is complete. With full browsing control, use the search bar to look up surgical technician positions in healthcare facilities across the country. You can sort and filter results to narrow down opportunities by agency, location, shift type, and more to find your ideal assignment. When you find med surgical tech openings that appeal to you, submit your professional application with the “quick apply” function.
As the demand for experienced surgical techs continues to climb, Fusion Marketplace removes common barriers for healthcare travelers to promote a faster turnaround time with job application submissions and healthcare traveler placements to get you where you’re supposed to be in less time.
Are you in the med surg tech field? Fusion Marketplace makes it easier to find and secure travel surg tech jobs across the country with faster speed to placement and enhanced job transparency. Create a profile and start comparing your different surgical tech opportunities to find the one that aligns with your career goals.