Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists, also known as scrub technicians or surgical or operating room technicians, are part of the surgical team, assisting doctors, nurses, and other operating room personnel. They help prepare patients for surgery; set up the surgical equipment; transport patients to the operating room; hand instruments to the proper surgeons; and monitor a patient’s vital signs.

Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes, and sterile solutions. They assemble both sterile and nonsterile equipment, checking to make sure it is working properly. Surgical technologists also get patients ready for surgery by washing, shaving, and disinfecting incision sites. They transport patients to the operating room, help position them on the operating table, and cover them with sterile surgical drapes. They also observe patients’ vital signs, check charts, and help the surgical team with their sterile gowns and gloves.

During surgery, surgical technologists pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and surgical assistants. They may hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments. They help prepare, care for, and dispose of specimens taken for laboratory analysis and help apply dressings. Some operate sterilizers, lights, or suction machines and help operate diagnostic equipment. After an operation, they may help transfer patients to the recovery room and clean and restock the operating room.

Certified surgical technologists with additional specialized education or training may become the surgical first assistant or circulator. Under the surgeon’s direction, the surgical first assistant performs technical functions such as hemostasis (controlling blood flow and stopping or preventing hemorrhage) that help the surgeon carry out a safe operation.