A Day in the OR for a Surgical Technologist

From pre-surgery to post-op, a surgical technologist has many essential responsibilities

A surgical technologist is an essential member of a healthcare team that cares for a patient while they’re in the operating room. This position requires setting up the OR, ensuring sterile conditions, anticipating the needs of the patient during surgery, and supporting the surgeon and others in the OR throughout the process. It requires careful planning, a commitment to safety, and exquisite attention to detail.

What does a day look like for a surgical technologist? Here is an overview of this unique job and the various responsibilities that help contribute to the success of the overall surgical team.

Before surgery: Keeping things sterile
Surgical technologists keep to a fairly steady routine before a surgery. This requires sterilizing all the equipment in the operating room, so that there’s no chance of infection to the patient as a result of the procedure. Wearing scrubs, the surgical technologist will help drape the table and take other measures to prevent the introduction of any additional moisture in the OR. Depending on what kind of surgery will be involved, the technologist will ensure that all of the appropriate equipment is ready and laid out so that the surgeons and nurses can readily access whatever they need.

During surgery: another set of hands
The responsibility for maintaining sterile conditions continues while the surgery is in process, but at this point the surgical technologist may take on other responsibilities as well. This can mean handing specific pieces of equipment to the surgeon or the surgeon’s assistant. While this sounds like a simple task, it is essential, since it can be dangerous to the patient for there to be any unnecessary delays in the OR—such as waiting for the right piece of equipment, or for that equipment to be sterilized. Surgical technologists can also assist by preparing or administering any necessary medications. In some cases, the surgeon may rely on the technologist for a more hands-on role during a procedure, such as retracting tissues so the surgeon can perform a specific action, unobstructed.

Post-Op: Following up
Once a procedure is complete, the surgeon might entrust the surgical technologist to suture an incision. As you’d imagine, the surgical technician continues to maintain the sterile environment by disposing of any materials used during the surgery, such as dressing or needles. As crazy as it sounds, it is possible for instruments a surgeon used during surgery to be left behind in a patient after he or she is sewn up. One of the most important roles the surgical technician has is keeping careful track of how many instruments were used during the procedure, and accounting for each of them to ensure that no careless mistakes were made.

A surgical technician can repeat this series of events many times over the course of a day, depending on how many surgeries are scheduled and what kind of facility he or she works in. This requires diligence and attention to detail at every step of the way.

Perhaps it’s time to find out more about how to train for this interesting and challenging work in the healthcare profession. Look into a training program near you—it could be the beginning of a new phase of your career!


This article is part of the Branford Hall weekly blog. We offer a wide array of career training programs, at our eleven campuses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Reach out to us for more information or to schedule a tour today!