Operating Room Technician

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Operating Room Technician


Operating rooms are intense and busy places. Due to the high stress and intense environment it takes a lot of people to make sure the operating room runs smoothly and mistakes do not happen.

Operating room technicians are licensed or registered nurses who are also trained to clean and sterilize operating rooms, and set them up for various operations. They put out the sterilized linens, the tools, and the fluid supply which may be needed over the course of the operation. During the operation, they assist surgeons throughout the surgeries by handing implements, including knives, scalpels, needles, and sponges. They also count and clean each implement, to ensure no sponges or tools have been left behind. They may take specimens to various laboratories, and could be responsible for taking patients to recovery rooms following the operations.

Operating room technicians also act as assistants to the even more highly trained perioperative nurse, who circulates throughout the surgery and assists the surgeon in more hands-on ways.

This is not a job for the squeamish. While ideal for those nurses who are more interested in the science of health, it is less than ideal for those who are more concerned with the caring, compassionate part of hospital care. Those nurses who choose to train for operating room work must be attentive, with good concentration. They should be dedicated to health care, and be methodical, careful, and willing to work hard, long hours, in order to save lives.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Operating room technicians must be emotionally stable, and comfortable around blood and organs. They must be organized, have good memories, and must be attentive at all times - meaning they should have high levels of concentration. They should be scientifically minded, and able and willing to take orders from others. They should be confident, and able to make good decisions, even under stress.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Create and preserve a sterile environment before and during the operations
  • Set up required instruments
  • Pass instruments to the surgeon during operation
  • Count instruments and sponges to make sure all are accounted for
  • Help stop bleeding so a surgeon can get a clear look at the situation
  • The typical day for an operating room technician is spent with surgeons and perioperative nurses. The technician must remain alert and attentive, often for hours at a time, ensuring that the room remains sterile, the instruments clean, and distributed correctly to the surgeons when needed. The technicians will stand still for long periods of time, without moving much or talking.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Operating room technicians work in operating rooms. They work in emergency wards and regular operating rooms in hospitals and clinics. They work shifts, as operations can happen at any time, especially in emergency wards. They are under the supervision of perioperative nurses. The technicians will have to work some evenings, weekends, and holidays. The work can be nauseating, tedious, as well as exciting. The operating room is a sterile environment, that requires the technician be careful not to contaminate anything at all times.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Operating room technicians can return to school and become registered nurses or perioperative nurses. They can become instructors in colleges and at teaching hospitals, and become paramedics, public health nurses, or critical care nurses. If they want to leave the health profession, operating room technicians might consider applying their concentration abilities to writing, research, science, or teaching.

  Educational Paths  
In order to become an operating room technician, completion of a nursing program at a community college in practical nursing, or a university degree to become a registered nurse is required. There are also additional courses in operating room techniques plus on the job training that will help those wishing to become an operating room technician.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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