Help! Please talk me out of quitting!

  1. Hello,

    I was really excited about going to school to be a Surgical Technologist. I don't think I'm meant for nursing as I don't think I'm able to multitask and take care of high patient to nurse ratios. However I am great at focusing and detail and am confident I would make a great ST. I know it's not easy work but I believe I can do it well someday. My plan was to go to a community college for it (I need to drive 65 miles for it but it's the best we can afford) when I would need to start the program (going to take the 3 prereq classes online). I was also hoping to go to a close short school session to be a Sterile Processing Tech so I can get some real work experience with the instruments. There is a 2-3 year waitlist for the ST program so I was hoping to work as a Sterile Processing Tech and volunteer in surgery waiting areas until I get in the program.
    I was very excited about this as to me it seems like a good practical, hands on, helping, career that I can do for life, make a difference, and have some financial stability for my family. On the other hand my husband doesn't think I'm the type to handle the stress and hospitals, he wants me to just try working on getting a government job like my Dad. My Dad got very lucky with his government job. He didn't graduate from college but worked his way up in a government position starting out as a clerk. He now makes 50,000 a year, but it took him 20 years to do so. Still, he's not happy and is always filled with anxiety about losing his job as it is so specialized he doesn't have a clue what he would do if he loses it. He went in a great depression a few years ago with the government shut down, scared of losing it. I greatly respect my Dad but I don't want to be like that. I don't want to just rely on getting lucky then take almost 20 years to get out of minimum wage pay.
    Surgical Technology seems great to me, like a real skill I can have all my life. I've read so much how it's so hard to get a job as a new graduate... However after researching a lot it seems once you do have experience its very good job stability as your knowledge and skills are highly valued. Also I am married and 28.. I want to start a real career soon so we can have kids someday. The ST program is only a yr, and going to a community college it is the best affordable education I can find (despite the 65 mile gas lol). I was going to work a lot during the 2-3 year waitlist, save money, and get a back up loan just in case. My husband doesn't like that it's 65 miles away but he is supportive of me if that's what I really want to do. However I almost seriously gave up yesterday as these things are seriously holding me back:

    *I'm scared of having an accident, cutting myself and getting HIV or another contagious disease, then accidentally spreading it to my family. I'm afraid trying to be quick enough especially as a Sterile Processing Tech will get me these accidents. I'm afraid there'll be another outbreak like Ebola and I'll catch it and bring it home. (maybe I'm just OCD?)

    *I'm sorry I know this is a touchy subject. I DO NOT judge anyone for having this but because of my religion I am very pro-life. I'm afraid I'll be required to assist in abortions. I tell myself I'm there to protect the mother from getting infected, but when I think I'm actually handing the instruments to the surgeon I feel like I'm doing it myself? I'm afraid if I say I can't participate in these I'll get fired or won't get hired? Maybe I can switch with someone but what if there's no one to switch with? I would be ok doing it if the mother's life is in danger but other than that I can't.

    *I'm worried about the work hours/schedule. I really want kids someday. I was hoping to eventually work in outpatient daytime monday-friday. However now I'm worried outpatient places are usually the surgery centers that do perform abortions. I also thought about per diem but I don't know how that works. I don't know what to do if children need to go home from school or daycare because theyre sick, and I can't leave in the middle of a surgery...

    *I will study hard and get all the knowledge I can to do great at my job. But I'm wondering if I'll have to spend hours a week (even well after finished with school) studying on my own time just to remember and be prepared for each work day? I don't know how that works..

    *What happens if I make a mistake? Can I accidentally kill a patient? If I make a small mistake how possible is it for me to get fired and never able to get a ST or SPD job ever again?

    *I read many people's stories how hard it is to get a ST job as a new grad.. Although I have the plan of Sterile Processing and volunteering.. I don't even know if it'll work. I'll feel awful if my husband helps me through all this then I can't even get a job after I'm done. I mean I would get any job (I have lots of waitressing experience..) until Id hopefully get a ST job.. but I don't want getting a ST job to be like trying to get on American Idol.. My husband would also be making some sacrifices for me to go to school for this.

    Haha I'm so sorry I wrote so much.. Anyone who took the time to read all this is an angel... I'm just really hoping for some help in overcoming the above fears as I feel this is my last chance to get a useful job education before we have babies. I don't want to give up but I don't want to make the wrong decision.. Although I know my husband and I will have to make some sacrifices I think if I can actually do it it will be great for my family. It's pretty much either this or just hoping to get lucky with a job above minimum wage likely in government. I have an Associates in Psychology but can't do anything with that... I think I need to do this.. Please help me be sure and start. I know once I start school I won't quit and I'll go all the way.
    Thank you so much....
  2. Visit Wanttobeamom profile page

    About Wanttobeamom

    Joined: Jul '16; Posts: 10

    18 Comments

  3. by   Atl-Murse
    Can you rephrase in one paragraph?
  4. by   TheCommuter
    If you want to be a surgical tech, go for it.

    However, I personally wouldn't become a surgical tech in this day and age due to the pay, lack of jobs, and minimal versatility.

    As an RN, I can be trained to work in surgery/OR, in addition to 50+ other specialties. As a surgical tech, surgery/OR is the only workplace setting where you can work. The lack of career mobility would be stifling for me.

    In addition, job placement is not a guarantee after graduation. I know of many unemployed STs. Many of the ones who are gainfully employed had to relocate to backwater towns where nobody wants to live in order to find work.
  5. by   kbird03
    Research your area for surgical tech. for jobs and requirements. Speak to a guidance counselor at the school. Ask her all those questions! I'm am RN and must say there are so many more jobs and shifts. Contingent positions (per deim) usually require that you have experience. I know that nursing get has many shift, so having a family is much easier. Medical assistance or billing work is a good field and may not be as stressful as nursing.
  6. by   NurseGirl525
    I'm confused. A lot. You are on a nursing forum wanting advice on becoming a surgical tech. You think volunteering in an OR is going to help? What volunteers are there in an OR?

    You are worried about contracting a disease and spreading it through your family? Do you understand how HIV is transmitted on the absolute miniscule chance you could ever contract it as a surgical tech? I'm not really even sure how that would happen as you are in a sterile field with sterile gloves on.

    I think anything in the medical field is not for you. Unless, you actually understand what the job is and what it requires.

    I see so many, well I'm going to volunteer comments. Volunteers at hospitals don't work in a whole lot of patient areas. They work in gift shops, at the front desk, they transport people to waiting areas. They bring magazines to people in waiting areas. They don't actually go into rooms and do any type of patient care, much less in an OR. It's not you work there for free for a little bit to get some type of on the job experience.

    Look at your local job market, see what it requires, what types of schools are in your area, what they require, and maybe see a therapist. Better yet, take a microbiology class and learn how disease is transmitted.
  7. by   Horseshoe
    You've gotten some good answers above, so I'll just address a couple of things.

    There really are not that many facilities which do abortions nowadays, and you would certainly be able to find out before accepting a job offer if a given facility in which you are interested does abortions.

    I work in an elective plastic surgery center (circulating RN). Our center is M-F, no weekends, no nights, no holidays. We do not perform abortions. But our facility mostly uses RNFAs rather than STs.

    I think your fear of contracting HIV or another communicable disease is disproportionate to the actual risk. You have a far greater chance of being killed or injured driving to the facility, but I doubt you give that (much higher) risk any thought. Practice standard precautions and you will be at MINIMAL (not zero, but minimal) risk.
  8. by   nutella
    With everything going on regarding your fears, commute and personal situation you may want to think about this carefully. Your options to work will be very limited and the wait time is long. Have you looked into other jobs in healthcare? What about pharmacy tech or such ?
  9. by   bossman
    Can you sum this up in bullet points? If you are scared don't do it. If you want to put the *gasp* 2 years into being a surgical tech then do it.
  10. by   EllaBella1
    As healthcare workers we are responsible for providing care to patients even when we don't agree with the medical decisions that they make. If you are 100% dead set against having any involvement with abortions then working in a field that might expose you to that possibility may not be for you. If you do pursue it I would suggest trying to specialize somehow? Perhaps limit yourself to cosmetic procedures or dermatology or something so that there is no chance you will come into contact with the issue.
  11. by   TakeTwoAspirin
    Torn between brutal honesty and encouragement.....

    Honesty: As a surgical tech, you will most certainly be multi-tasking - far more than you realize. While it is true that you will only have one patient to deal with at a time, during most surgical procedures you will need to think fast, anticipate, be constantly preparing for the next step as well as responding to emergent problems/complications requiring you to communicate efficiently with other team members while remaining focused on the task at hand. Despite the fact that everyone wears personal protection in the OR (sterile gloves, gowns, face masks etc) you will be exposed to bodily fluids every single case, every single day. You are also working with sharp objects every single case, every single day. While sometimes we do know the patient's HIV or hepatitis status, there are times when we do not. The truth is that the best techs on the best days can and do get stuck with a sharp object that exposes them to bodily fluids. Blood/fluids splash. Surgical plume..... don't even get me started on surgical plume.

    Myths: Not all surgery centers are abortion clinics. Yes, generally, you can decline to scrub in on abortions at most/many large hospital facilities, but at the end of the day if a patient is crashing and there is nobody else available, you will be expected to do your job. Surgery centers will offer less call/weekend commitment, but you cannot always be certain of getting off work on time - and there is no second shift to come and relieve you.

    Encouragement: The work is awesome and you will have the honor and privilege to be part of a life-changing, life-enhancing team. The standards are high; the expectations are high; and the commitment is 100%. While it can be difficult to find a starter job as a surg tech, once you have experience you will be a valuable commodity. It is hard work, in a challenging high stress environment, but as an ex-surg tech myself I can honestly say that I wouldn't have missed the opportunity.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
  12. by   BSNbeDONE
    Quote from Wanttobeamom
    *I'm scared of having an accident, cutting myself and getting HIV or another contagious disease, then accidentally spreading it to my family. I'm afraid trying to be quick enough especially as a Sterile Processing Tech will get me these accidents. I'm afraid there'll be another outbreak like Ebola and I'll catch it and bring it home. (maybe I'm just OCD?)
    Do you use public restrooms in restaurants? Or shop at a grocery store using a shopping cart? If so, how do you know that the last person that came out of that restroom was not a chronically-coughing tuberculosis individual? How do you know that the shopping cart that you pushed around Walmart wasn't last handled by a person with MRSA or VRE? Do you wear a mask into the restrooms or sanitize the handles of those shopping carts? What about the handles of the gas pumps? Do you wash your hands with sanitizer after replacing the handle of the gas pump before you touch the handles inside and outside of your private vehicle? Most people slide back into their vehicles, ramble through their persons with those unclean hands in search of the hand sanitizer...too late then, right? You've already brought outside contaminants inside. Also, it's more likely that your non-medical family would unknowingly bring diseases home to you before you bring diseases home to them.

    My point is, some things you simply cannot worry about because some are actually unavoidable...unless you live in a bubble.

    When I'm on duty, after sanitizing my hands, I wear gloves the entire time I'm in a patient's room...even when documenting on the bedside computer. You'd be surprised at how many visitors/family members try to access those computers when they think we're not looking. Unclean hands are everywhere.
  13. by   Wanttobeamom
    Thank you so much everyone for all your replies! They have helped address a lot of my questions.

    I'm sorry if I sound a somewhat ignorant/crazy in catching illnesses. I think with that I'm more scared being a sterile processing tech than a surgical tech. I'm envisioning it similar to trying to wash dishes fast enough then getting cut easily.

    I'm still not sure but now I think what bothers me MOST is how much responsibility it is... What can happen if a surgical technologist makes a small mistake? How likely can a patient get hurt or die because of a mistake from a surgical technologist?

    I was hoping this to be a career I become highly skilled in and can do well in until retirement.. I was hoping to become very confident with it.. but I think I might have some anxiety/ocd issues that could make me feel like well after I'm done with school and get certified I still need to study ten hours unpaid time a week just so I don't make a mistake and cost a patients life... Hopefully with experience and maybe therapy I could resolve that unrealistic urge.. but does anyone now if cts continue to study on their own a lot of hours even years after being in the profession? I was hoping just after a couple years of ft experience I would be confident always and need to do tomorrow than what's required to renew my certification.

    Argh... I really wanted to do this but it seems complicated. Most of all I don't think I could ever forgive myself if I make one mistake and it costs a patient's life... Argh maybe I won't even sleep well because I'll be always distressed to go to work the next day? I have an associates in psychology.... Maybe I should just give up going back to school entirely and hope for a good secretary or government job someday... :/ Im so lost...
  14. by   lrobinson5
    df8-gif

    Couldn't resist!

    Seriously though, I would recommend hanging in there for the nursing program and specializing in OR. Better pay and job security.

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