Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes, and sterile solutions. They also get patients ready for surgery as well as pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and surgeon assistants during surgery.
Surgical technologists advance by specializing in a specific area of surgery, such as neurosurgery or open-heart surgery.
Certified surgical technologists with additional specialized education or training also may act in the role of the surgical first assistant or circulator. The surgical first assistant, as defined by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), provides aid in exposure, hemostasis (controlling blood flow and stopping or preventing hemorrhage), and other technical functions under the surgeon’s direct supervision, assisting with a safe operation.
A circulating technologist is the “unsterile” member of the surgical team who interviews the patient before surgery, prepares the patient, helps with anesthesia, obtains and opens packages for the “sterile” people to remove the sterile contents during the procedure, keeps a written account of the surgical procedure, and answers the surgeon’s questions about the patient during the surgery.
Some surgical technologists manage central supply departments and sterile processing instrument departments in hospitals, work as private scrubs for surgeons, work in tissue retrieval and procurement, are employed as sales representatives for medical device manufacturers, teach and direct in surgical technology programs in colleges and universities, or take positions with insurance companies.