Monthly Surgical Assisting Newsletter

Our monthly surgical assisting newsletter is sent out to bring you news and stories helpful and interesting to your career.

We will also be featuring students and graduates to give you a closer look at our program.

Meet our Program Director Alice L. Dungen!

Sign up today to get on the mailing list!

Happy National Surg Tech Week!

September 16 – 22, 2018

Our wonderful instructor, Alice Dungen, has written an article specifically about the history of STs, how the job title has changed through the years, and a few pieces of advice based on her experience as both an ST and SA!

A note from our director…

National ST Week – September 2018

It’s hard to believe that National Surgical Technologist’s Week has only existed for a mere 34 years! Even in the very early stages of surgery when the local barber cut hair, shaved beards AND performed surgical procedures that the surgeon needed the extra helping hands of an assistant. Even if it took some years to happen it was certain that recognition would be achieved.

History of the ST Industry

Let’s take a quick look back in time to see when Surgical Technologists were first recognized for their skills. Here in the United States, their beginnings were literally on the battlefields in World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1945-1975). They weren’t officially called “surgical technologists,” but were “medics” in the US Army and “corpsmen” in the US Navy. Following this, the military formed a new profession called ORT (Operating Room Technician).

There was a considerable amount of on-the-job training which included patient care, instrument sterilization, draping procedures, instrumentation and sutures. In the late 1960’s improvements in the field of surgical technology led to a formal job description and in the 1970’s standards were developed which described exactly what surgical technologists were able and expected to do during the procedures.

Growth of ST Recognition

The first certification exam was given in 1970 with those passing given the title of Certified Operating Room Technician or CORT.

STs in the Operating Room Today

The Surgical Technologist is an extremely valuable member of the surgical team. Without Surgical Technologists the efficient flow of a day in the operating room would be nonexistent. A competent ST is able to keep the procedure moving with the right amount of speed and intuitiveness to know what the surgeon needs. The surgeons place a great deal of trust in our abilities. I’ve heard many surgeons say, “don’t give me what I ask for…give me what I need!”

Career Development for STs

The natural progression of the CST’s professional career could include becoming a Surgical Assistant-Certified (SA-C). This is an exciting field that encompasses all you have learned as a Surgical Technologist, and additional training, that will allow you to work even more closely with the surgical team during procedures. For instance, you will be able to close incisions, harvest vein grafts, assist in all surgical procedures, assure that the patient is properly positioned for a procedure, assist in the application of drains, dressings and tourniquets and a myriad of additional duties as assigned by the surgeon.

You could work as a solo practitioner or join a multi-specialty group, a hospital or surgical center. In all instances you are working under the direct supervision of the surgeon. This is a wonderful career and one that I am admittedly enamored by. Remember this…if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!

Advice for STs

So, in closing I would like to ask one thing: When you are introduced to a new Surgical Technologist to your facility, remember what it was like for you to be in their shoes. They have stepped into a brand new facility and need to learn where the instruments and equipment and ancillary supplies are stored. They need to learn their colleagues names, as well as all of the surgeons’ preferences that they will be working with. Perhaps they are a brand new grad and this is their very first position.

As they are standing there shaking in their shoes, take a moment to introduce yourself and offer your assistance to them. If they fall short of your expectations, offer your knowledge to them in a kind, professional manner to help them improve their skills and be the awesome Surgical Technologist that they can be, so they can do the same for you.

Personal Experience

I’d like to share a personal experience I had as a student in surgical technology. I had been in my program for several weeks when I was assigned to a room and told to report for the first case. I was gaining some confidence, so I walked into the room and introduced myself to the lead CST. Here’s what she said to me: “I hate teaching and I hate students, so just stand back there and watch.” Of course, I was stunned and dismayed at this. What made matters worse was that my surgical technology program was actually in a teaching hospital!

Right then and there, I decided that I would NEVER treat anyone like this. I would take the time to explain when there were questions and even pass along some “pearls of wisdom” to my colleagues whenever I could. This has served me well over the past 25 years in the operating room, and I sincerely hope that I have helped a few Surgical Technologists achieve their professional dream as a competent Surgical Tech. But, I will say that I never forgot what that tech said to me; this one comment affected my whole career in the operating room. I could have been bitter and angry, but instead I tried to turn it around to be a more helpful and considerate Surgical Technologist.

We are all in this crazy field of surgery for one reason – to help another human being. We help the surgeons, nurses, room techs, support staff and of course, the patients. Our commonality is an innate desire to help others. Let’s not forget to help our “fellow” Surgical Technologists as well.

Happy National Surgical Technology Week to all!

Alice L. Dungen
Program Director, Independent Surgical Assistant

Test your surgical terminology knowledge with our monthly crossword puzzle:

Think you figured out all the answers?

Below are some service opportunities, but if you know of more post them on our Facebook page and share them with others.

Service Opportunities is a network that allows you to search hundreds of organizations based on your healthcare specialty (including Surgical Tech), part of the world, and health issue(s) of interest.

Although many individual organizations offer the opportunity to volunteer in a surgical missions, not all accept SAs. Following are a few that may; we’d love to hear from you about other opportunities.

Helping Hands Medical Missions
International Surgical Missions
Healing the Children
Health Volunteers Overseas
Light of the World Charities