technologists, also called scrubs and surgical or operating room
technicians, assist in surgical operations under the supervision of
surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. Surgical
technologists are members of operating room teams, which most commonly
include surgeons, anesthesiologists, and circulating nurses.
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, as well
as check and adjust it to ensure it is working properly. 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. Technologists also observe patients' vital
signs, check charts, and help the surgical team put on sterile gowns and
surgery, technologists pass instruments and other sterile supplies to
surgeons and surgeon assistants. They may hold retractors, cut sutures,
and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments. Surgical
technologists 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,
surgical technologists may help transfer patients to the recovery room
and clean and restock the operating room.
technologists with additional specialized education or training also may
act in the role of the surgical first assistant or circulator. Under the
surgeon's direction, 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 that help the surgeon carry out a safe
operation. A circulating technologist is the “unsterile” member of the
surgical team who interviews the patient before surgery, prepares the
patient for surgery, 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.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.