About the Author
I have asked my friend and fellow CST, Rica, to write a guest post for Love, Blood, and Scrubs. Rica has been a surgical tech for 22 years. She loves big spinal deformity cases, anything neuro and ortho. She was a traveler on and off for 15 years before settling down in the San Diego area, originally from NJ. Rica is a diehard Jersey girl who loves Bon Jovi, the NY Giants, and the Yankees. In her spare time, Rica is also an avid Animal Rescue Volunteer and enjoys paddle boarding with her rescued boxer, Drake. She also likes long walks on the beach and is a single Aquarian looking for a lovable Leo.
I love hearing other CST’s point of view and I think you will enjoy her perspective of the surgical tech’s OCD. Thank you Rica for sharing your thoughts and for all the advice you provide!
The OCD CST
CSTs are OCD! Or is it CDO, since it should be in alphabetical order? Hi, my name is Rica, I’m an OCD control freak Certified Surgical Technologist, and I think most of us in this profession need to be. Surgical Tech 101 includes being a neat freak, knowing where everything is at all times, having super powers like mind reading, and knowing what the surgeon needs even before he realizes he needs it. (Oh, and bare with me, I’m NOT a writer at all! I’ve had writers block 500 times before even attempting this article!!)
It takes a specific combo of personality and “take charge attitude” to be successful in this field. I’ve narrowed down a few descriptions/necessities for myself to maintain sanity in a typical OR day. This may or may not sound like something you can relate to but my bet is you will get a chuckle out of this. Here goes:
Don’t Touch The CST’s Mayo!
1. Don’t touch my Mayo. Yes, this includes you, “Know-It-All” first year Resident. First and foremost, you have no idea how to hand that to the surgeon correctly. He will not realize it’s you passing the instrument so don’t you make me look bad. Also, you really don’t even know what that instrument does or how it works. Back off, Buddy.
2. If you are assisting and I hand you something, take it. You will be needing it, I promise. However, if I think you are a hazard (yes, that’s you, med student), I will put something in both your hands just to keep you from touching anything. And maybe, maybe not, I will clamp a hemostat to the front of your gown to remind me that I think you’re a tool. Ha!
3. Don’t put anything back on my Mayo. Refer to number 1. I set up in a way that if I am the only one assisting the surgeon, I have what I need on my Mayo within somewhat of a reaching distance in case I need to use my “go-go-gadget arms” (re: Inspector Gadget for those young ones reading this) and it’s placed in certain way. Guaranteed you will try to return it to the wrong place and ass backwards at that. This will definitely screw with the flow of things.
4. If relieving a surg tech, be mindful of their set up. Remember that you are only there for 15-30 minutes so don’t rearrange ANYTHING!! No one wants to play your hide and seek game when they come back from break.
5. While relieving, please keep track of local injected, suture, anything that may or may not have come out of a body cavity, etc., and COMMUNICATE this both with the circulator and the tech when they get back. Our job is to read the mind of the surgeon’s, not yours.
6. For the love of God and all that is Holy, maintain the whereabouts of sharps and keep them in the safety zone. This goes for all members of the team. Make sure to protect your needle tips, and SCREAM (if you have to) “sharp down” each and every time. If I get stabbed I won’t hesitate to cut you. Just kidding. Or am I?
7. If I tell you that you are contaminated, you are. No questions asked. Circulators, help your tech out here. If they start arguing feel free to go up and purposely contaminate them so there isn’t a question. We are a team and have to have each other’s’ backs.
8. When counting, before or after the case, DO NOT interrupt us. If the circulator doesn’t bark at you then I will. Counting is serious. VERY.
9. When in doubt, ask. Before I start a closing count, I will make sure you have what you need and the rest will be on my Mayo stand. But. Refer to number 1. Don’t touch it unless you ask!! We are OCD for a reason. We put things back where they need to go to make the surgery go as smoothly as possible. This makes for an easy count at the end and if you take a sponge off my field without me knowing I will call you out.
10. I am intimidating and I won’t apologize for it. My patient is first and foremost. I’m strict for a reason and I won’t compromise patient safety. A nurse can be your worst nightmare and so can I. However, if you understand these neuroses, I can be the person you can rely on to keep you on the “straight and narrow” with the attending. This goes for new nurses, med students, residents and fellows, even anesthesia personnel.
Honestly, I could probably go on and on since my OCD doesn’t stop there. I’m pretty sure you all can add a ton to this list but I just didn’t want you to think I was absolutely crazy. Although, we as a collective group in the Operating Room, have to be a certain blend of crazy to survive the antics of peri-op. That’s for sure! Hope you enjoyed the read. I want to thank Miranda for graciously asking me to fumble through this!!
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