I have seen it mentioned several times on this forum, but I am unaware of what their education and role truly is in the OR. What are they allowed to do?! Are they nurses performing in a different function?! Are they licensed professionals?! Certified?! Can a surgery be done with just doctors and nurses instead if requested?! I always thought it was just doctors and nurses in the OR. How do doctors and nurses feel about OR techs?! TY to all who reply.
Quote from batman24
speaking as a cst, or "or tech" as we are sometimes referred to, i would ask that you please don't confuse "unlicensed" with "unqualified". no more than you would assume that any other medical personnel whose credentials and education include "registration" or "certification" instead of "licensing." i have been a cst (certified surgical technologist) for almost 15 years, and i am every bit as professional as any other trained and qualified individual at what i do. the credential of certification does not come easily, is closely supervised and guarded by our own professional organization - the association of surgical technologists, located online at www.ast.org and is at this point being supplemented by a licensing program as well in several states. this varies on a state by state basis at this point, but all change comes with time and effort, and it's being done as i write this in many states. it will become the norm when all states become more educated about who we are, as the ones who are offering licensure now have done.
but changing my credential doesn't change my education, experience and proficiency at what i do. although our past history over time has included more ojt prepared individuals, that is now rarely if ever the norm. formal education, including didactic, skills labs and clinical practice are part of every csts educational experience. mine took 2 years. some programs are shorter, but all must follow basic educational guidelines by our professional organization to be accredited, thus allowing their graduates to qualify to sit for the certification examination. if you can properly prepare an asn rn in that period of time, then it shouldn't be surprising to take that long to prepare an or professional. certification at this point is recognized nationwide - once we are certified, we are legally allowed to practice in any state, where rn's have to have their licenses on a state-by-state basis. this is not to say that either one is inferior or superior to the other - just that there's a difference. when licensing becomes a norm for us, we will have to do the state-by-state procedure as well. more and more institutions who employ us are making the certification a basic requirement for employment - there are not many left that do not.
if you are curious about the credentials, education and proficiency of or professionals known as csts, then i suggest you take a look at our association website, (www.ast.org) where there is a plethora of information regarding our educational requirements to begin and to stay in our profession. continuing education is a requirement of maintaining our professional credentials, no matter what you call them. all medical professionals have continuing education as a requirement for maintaining their professional credential, no matter what they are.
it might be interesting to note that many nurses, either straight out of nursing school, or after years of floor nursing experience in hospitals, must undergo significant periods of time in orienting to the or and programs i have seen can vary anywhere from 6 months to a year. the education that many of them get is from us - the csts - especially when it comes to the scrub role, where we excel. i have been a happy and effective preceptor to several nurses who have learned a great deal and become confident scrub nurses in the process. circulating nurses of course are in charge of educating them to the role of the circulator, but we are the pros when it comes to the scrub role, and if you check out the website i have mentioned, you will see that we are not uneducated slackers that have been pulled in off the street and handed a scalpel to pass to the surgeons. there is so much more to our jobs than that, and so much more is required of us to be able to practice what we love to do. the or is a closed world in and of itself, separate from the rest of the hospital. if the or is having staffing issues, it cannot pull nurses from other floor units to sub in for a while, like you could pull a nurse from med/surg to work in another unit. only or trained and qualified staff can cover for each other.
there are of course, good and bad examples of every profession - mechanics, nurses, waitresses, doctors, plumbers, csts - you name it. if you have a bad experience with one of those individuals, i would encourage you to not paint the entire profession or occupation with the same brush. learn more about us, what we do and why we are there. i think it will be an enlightening experience for you.
and yes, most people automatically assume that everyone in the or is either a nurse or a doctor - not true. we are sort of an "invisible profession" in a lot of ways, so it's not surprising that more folks don't know who we are or what we do - or what it takes to make us qualified to do it.
i am not having surgery so this was really more of a general question. i take it from your reply that nurses and docs would be comfortable using an or tech versus a licensed nurse as well. i didn't realize this was standard procedure. it makes me a little leery that the hospital can take unlicensed people and put them in an or situation. i don't mean that to offend any or techs so i hope none take it that way.
i know someone that recently went to the doc and the doc bought the receptionist in the room to chaperone. she sent the woman out because it just didn't feel right. the doc was okay with it, but did explain that this was something he did often. yikes.
Last edit by ShariDCST on Feb 7, '08
Just curious-Would you ever go back to NS and become a RN, Shari or do you love this job and not want to leave it?! It might be worth it to you from a financial standpoint if that was a concern. It also sounds like you could step into a circulator role fairly easily after that. TY again for answering all the questions. This has been interesting. I always wondered if OR nurses had additional training because it's a different bird.
Last edit by Batman24 on Feb 7, '08