The operating room doesn't just rely on surgeons. A whole staff of people is needed for every successful operation that takes place. And one of the most important people on this staff is the surgical technician (referred to as a "scrub" in medical slang). This is a job that will enjoy high growth in coming years, and one in which you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you're making an important difference and helping to save people's lives.
Surgical technicians work with surgeons, anesthesiologists and operating room nurses to help set up for surgeries. They find all the equipment necessary for a particular operation, and sterilize each instrument carefully. (They even sterilize the drapes.) They check all the equipment beforehand to make sure everything's in good working order. They also help prepare the patients. They will wash the area of the body that's to be cut open, and shave this part of the anatomy if necessary as well. They'll then disinfect this body part. They will also bring the patient from his or her hospital room to the operating site, and for this reason, surgical technicians should have a way with people.
People on their way to an operating room are, understandably, under a lot of stress, and the technician can help to some extent to comfort and console that person. Once patients arrive in the operating room, the technician will help them get onto the table, check their vital signs, help the surgical team get dressed, and look over the patients' medical charts to make sure everything's OK. And that's not the end of the technician's job, either. They often stand beside the surgeon and hand him or her the instruments they need. (Think of all the movies where you've heard a surgeon say, "Scalpel...") Sometimes technicians also run certain pieces of equipment, like suction machines, as well. And when the operation is over the technicians will bring the patients back to their rooms, or to special recovery rooms, and then will clean up the operating room and find new supplies to take the place of the old supplies.
To be successful as a surgical technician, a person must be able to stand up and pay careful attention for hours at a time. They also must not be squeamish around blood and the internal organs of the human body, for obvious reasons. Surgical technicians generally work forty hours a week, although they may be called in for emergency surgeries from time to time. To become a surgical technician, you will have to complete a training program. This might mean getting an associate's degree, or it might mean completing a certificate program that combines classroom work with on-site, hands-on training. It usually takes about a year or two to complete a certificate program.
Many certificate programs help technicians land full-time employment, which is a great benefit. The current job picture for surgical technicians, by the way, is very bright.