Becoming A Confident Surgical Technologist
Whether you are a new surgical tech right out of school, or a seasoned tech that is new to a facility, it can be hard to show confidence in yourself and/or your skills. At times, confidence can come off as cockiness which is not the first impression you want to make. I have found myself in these situations at times during my career and have overcome the fear and anxiety associated with it. I am here to share my success with you and help you build confidence and master your skills as a surgical technologist. If you are willing to work hard, you will overcome your insecurities and will be capable of anything you put your mind to. Lou Holtz said, “ In this world you are either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” This has nothing to do with age and has everything to do with you always striving to improve yourself. Be ambitious and always have hopes and dreams. This will take you far in your career as well as in other aspects of your life.
To begin, always try to get a good night’s rest. Everyone knows work is easier and more productive when you are well rested. Make sure to eat a decent breakfast or at least something substantial before your first case. Low blood sugar doesn’t mix well with the operating room. I have seen too many people get light headed and have to leave the OR just because breakfast was skipped.
Make sure to wear good shoes. Standing all day is hard but even harder if you aren’t wearing the correct footwear. Click here to see my favorite (and inexpensive) brand, Anywears, as well as other highly recommended OR shoes. Consider compression socks because these help with the strain of standing all day. Pick a pair of each that is colorful and fun and let your individualism shine! It’s a confidence booster as well. You can find some great ones here.
We all wear the same scrubs, gowns, and masks so it can be hard so show your personality. If it is allowed at your facility, pick a scrub cap that suits you. Wearing a cap that you love is like wearing your favorite pair of jeans. It helps your confidence when you feel good about what you wear. You can find some of my favorite caps here to get you started.
Know your cases. Before going into a surgery review the basics of the case to have a general understanding of what you will be doing. If you have never done the case before, do your research and find out as much as you can. Understand the surgery: why is this being done? What steps are taken in the procedure? Are implants being used? If so, look up the technique guide online for that implant. This will give you more understanding and thus confidence.
A great resource that I use for this is a website called Giblib. This site has compiled hundreds of videos of surgical procedures for you to view. In the videos, the surgeons walk you through step by step so you get a good understanding of the procedure while being able to watch it. Click here to be directed to their page and use my code LOVEBLOODSCRUB60 to get 60% off your monthly subscription!
Familiarize yourself with basic instruments and be sure to learn the different names for them. There are thousands of instruments across a variety of specialties so it is important to know the basics like the back of your hand. Once those are down, it will be easier to focus on the specialty instruments. When doing your research for each case, be sure to know what instruments are involved and take mental note.
So now it is time to scrub a case. Always take notes even while scrubbed in. Gown tags can come in handy for this. Use them to jot down important information that will help you later
on. Use the preference card (if it is up to date) to start your notes. What sets will you be using? Are there any special items that need to be available?, Etc. When you finish the case, put the gown tag or whatever used for notes in a specimen bag (or clear bag of some sort) so you don’t spread contamination. Add to your notes anything that could help you in the future. It doesn’t just have to be case specific, it can be surgeon specific too. Have a dedicated notebook for this. You could even have multiple notebooks based on surgeon or facility which you can categorize yourself. I have a blank template for these types of notes that you can download for free here.
Always set up your back table and mayo the same way. Cases and instrument sets will change but if you keep the general set up the same every time, you will always know where to find what you need. If needed, take a picture of a set up you like and tape it to the wall for reference. You can use this until you have the set up memorized. This also works well with notes. Tape your notes up where you can see them so you can reference them throughout the case to help you stay a step ahead. I did this frequently as a new tech and it really helped me stay on track! When setting up your mayo, think of the things that are always used. Marker, blade, dissecting scissors, forceps etc. Always have these things on the mayo to start.
Finally, show interest in what you do. NO ONE knows everything so show interest and ask questions during the case. This will earn you respect as well as build your confidence even more. Remember to do your best and never stop learning. People will take notice and you will be put in a positive light. Also, this goes without saying: ALWAYS be a TEAM PLAYER. The OR can only function as a team with every player having a vital role. Be helpful to your team members, treat them with kindness and respect and you will get that in return. Have fun and enjoy your job as well as the people you work with. Confidence doesn’t happen overnight but with some time, patience, and hard work, you will achieve this goal with mastered skills as a surgical tech.
Thank you for your continued support. I hope to help and encourage surgical technologists in all aspects of this career: new or seasoned. If you have enjoyed this, please subscribe here.