What is it Like to Work in the OR?
A career in the health industry is a great choice if you love to help people and want to get into a career that is growing and that will provide you with stability and a good income. All areas of healthcare are growing faster than most other industries. This means that positions in a number of health and medical fields are opening up all the time.
If you don’t want to spend the next ten years in school becoming a doctor, you still have a lot of other options. Allied health professionals, which are the skilled workers who support doctors and nurses in all healthcare settings, are more in demand than ever. These careers include everything from working behind a computer in a medical office doing billing, to actually getting in the operating room and assisting surgeons and nurses as they perform procedures on patients.
Working in the OR is always exciting. It is hands-on work that puts you right in the middle of what’s happening, helping patients before and after surgery, assisting doctors and nurses, and playing an important role in ensuring the OR team works smoothly and successfully. Are you cut out for working in the OR? Before you take the leap to earn a degree that will qualify you to work in the OR, find out what it’s really like.
Who Works in the OR?
The operating room is one of the most important and well-ordered areas of a hospital. It is here that patients put their lives in the hands of a dedicated and trained team of professionals who work together to perform surgeries to help people heal and to save lives. The OR includes medical doctors, sometimes more than one surgeon, one or more anesthesiologists, and nurses who assist those doctors and surgeons. But you don’t have to get a medical degree to be a part of this team. The team in the OR also includes one or more allied health professionals:
Surgical technologists may also be called surgical techs or operating room technicians. These professionals help make operations go more smoothly and safely by preparing and cleaning the OR, sterilizing and stocking equipment for the surgeon, readying patients for their procedures, and often directly assisting surgeons as they work. They may also take samples to laboratories, set up robotic equipment for surgeries, applying and changing dressings for patients after surgery.
An anesthesia technician, or tech, has similar responsibilities to a surgical tech, but they are specifically related to anesthesia. These techs help prepare supplies and equipment for the anesthesiologist, assist with the administration of anesthesia before surgeries, help to monitor patients during surgery, and helps patients recover from anesthesia after a procedure is completed. Like surgical techs, they play an important role in keeping the patients safe from infections, by maintaining cleanliness and sterilizing equipment.
What Are the Benefits of Working in the OR?
Becoming a surgical or anesthesia tech has a lot of perks, like job security, a good income, and the ability to get into the medical field without spending years in school. But there are many options in healthcare that offer these same benefits, so if you are thinking about a career that will put you in the OR, it’s important to understand the specific reasons why people enjoy these positions.
One very important benefit of this kind of work is the ability to work directly with patients. Surgical techs and anesthesia techs are actively helping people every day on the job. This is a meaningful and rewarding career. The staff in the OR not only get to work with and help people, they really get to focus on one patient at a time, prepping them, keeping them safe during surgery, and helping them as they come around for anesthesia.
Another reason people who work in the OR love what they do is that it is always an interesting day on the job. There is no time to get bored in the operating room. The surgeries are varied, as are the patients. The techs working in the OR have the same responsibilities for each surgery they assist with, but the circumstances and the patients and their needs are always different.
The outlook for careers for allied health professionals who are trained to work in the OR is positive. Jobs for all kinds of health technicians are growing by 14 percent, while jobs specifically in surgical technology are growing at a rate of 12 percent. Overall, this growth is much faster than average job growth. Choosing a career that lands you in the OR as a tech will ensure that finding that job after getting your education will not be difficult. In fact, you will probably have your pick of positions.
What Are the Challenges of Working in the OR?
While there are many benefits and great reasons to choose a career in the OR, there are challenges too. For those who work in the OR, these challenges are not enough to outweigh the great aspects of having a rewarding, useful job that is interesting and helps people on a daily basis. One of the biggest difficulties of this work is the level of stress and intensity. An operating room can be a very stressful place, especially when the procedure is complicated, an emergency, or a matter of life and death. It can be a high-stress workplace with a lot of pressure put on each individual team member to do their job well.
There are several aspects of working in the OR that make it stressful at times. The pace of work can be fast, for instance, and staff members must be able to prioritize and make decisions about what task is most important and what needs to be done next. Staff in the OR must communicate efficiently and quickly with each other in order to make the entire process run smoothly. These skills can take some time and experience to master.
Operating room jobs may also be physically challenging. Techs in the OR are responsible for moving patients and equipment. They, like other members of the team, must be on their feet for long periods of time, sometimes several hours for long, complicated surgeries. It is important to be physically fit to be able to do this job well and to be comfortable in the OR.
Working Hours for OR Surgical and Anesthesia Techs
Most techs working in the operating room of a hospital work full time, 40 hours per week, or even more. The shifts may vary, though. Depending on the number or duration of surgeries, techs may need to work in the OR for shifts that last longer than eight hours. Surgeries are scheduled, but they are not always predictable. There may be changes to the schedule as patient needs change or there may be emergency surgeries that need to be performed at the last minute. For these reasons, surgical and anesthesia techs are typically expected to be on call for surgeries during their off hours, often during the night or on the weekends.
How to Become a Surgical or Anesthesia Tech
To work in the OR as a surgical technologist or an anesthesia technician, you need to have the skills and knowledge required to do the jobs. Most people working in these fields have completed some type of education program dedicated to surgical or anesthesia tech. Some programs are diploma or certificate programs that take less than two years to complete, but most are two-year, associate degree programs.
An anesthesia technician school should have a program that is accredited and approved by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians. It should teach students about basic anatomy and medical terms, all about anesthesia and the equipment used to administer it, how to work with patients, and many other skills that are necessary for working in the OR
When looking for surgical tech schools in Florida, look for an accredited program that will prepare you to pass the Certified Surgical Technology exam. A good program will teach students about basic anatomy, surgical procedures and techniques, surgical technology, medical ethics, and how to work with patients and communicate with surgeons and nurses.
If you’re ready to start looking for programs in anesthesia technology or surgical tech schools in Florida, make sure you take your time and select the school that is best for you. Look for programs with experienced instructors and hands-on learning so you will be well prepared to work in and contribute to a successful operating room.