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weird surgical tech questions!!

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cknapp92 cknapp92 (New) New

I am looking into my community colleges surgical tech program, and i have been looking all over the internet as well to answer my questions. So far, I've came up with nothing. So i thought i would try this!

1. How do you stand not going to the bathroom for 5 hours? Do you wear depends or take breaks?

2. What can i do with a surgical tech certificate? Could i work in a hospital? My college offers both and i am aiming for the degree, but you can also get the certificate first and start working, and then put it towards your degree,

3. Are you aloud to take breaks, like bathroom breaks? I read other techs can relieve you if you need a break.

4. Do you get to care for the patient when they are in recovery?

5. What if their was an emergency surgery?

Thanks to anyone's input! Greatly appreciated!

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

1. How do you stand not going to the bathroom for 5 hours? Do you wear depends or take breaks?

There is a combination of options, although no one I know goes the depends route. It's possible to sneak out in between surgeries and take quick bathroom breaks. For longer cases, additional staff may be available to take your place for a few minutes. Other strategies that STs I work with use are using the restroom right before scrubbing in, never refusing a lunch break, and speaking up about needing to be relieved for a few minutes.

2. What can i do with a surgical tech certificate? Could i work in a hospital? My college offers both and i am aiming for the degree, but you can also get the certificate first and start working, and then put it towards your degree,

Depends on the job market in your area- this is one of the things you should research before deciding which program to attend.

3. Are you aloud to take breaks, like bathroom breaks? I read other techs can relieve you if you need a break.
See response to question 1. I will say that in the OR, I almost never don't get a lunch break. The majority of the time I don't, the proverbial brown stuff is hitting the fan or I think I'll be done with my cases in time to get my own break and something happens to extend the case.

4. Do you get to care for the patient when they are in recovery?
Those caring for patients in the PACU (aka recovery room) are nurses with critical care skills/experience. STs generally are not involved in the recovery room as their education is geared solely to the OR.

5. What if their was an emergency surgery?

Depends on the facility. As a trauma center, my facility is required to keep at least one circulator and one scrub (may be RN with scrub abilities or ST) free at all times to cover traumas. They are also utilized for emergencies. If it's after hours, we have a team in house 24/7 with call teams available to come in so that a team remains free at all times. Other options, especially if it's a surgeon who already has a room scheduled, is to hold up scheduled surgeries to prioritize the emergency.

You may find the Association of Surgical Technologists website a much bigger help: Association of Surgical Technologists

I go to the bathroom before I scrub into any case whether I need to go or not. And it doesn't matter what the case it because I've seen a quick knee scope take WAAAY longer than it should. As for being relieved and getting a breaK it depends. At my facility, scrubs are not scrubbed out for a break. We get our break between cases. We also don't get scrubbed out of primary joints, revisions, or backs unless it is absolutely necessary. The risk for infection is just too high.

No, you don't get to care for the patient in recovery. The people who work in recovery are RNs with critical care experience. As for emergency, there is typically a call team that will handle that. We rotate call so every 13 weekend we are the call team.

Thank you guys very much for your input!!

Hey what's up? I'm a Certified Surgical Tech at a level 1 trauma center in St. Louis, MO. I'm on the general, burn and plastic surgery team. I've been a CST for 2 1/2 years.

Let's see....

1. Oh no not the depends haha. If I know I'm going to be in a long case and there is a big chance nobody will get me out I'll always take a quick restroom break.

2. I went to CC and all they offered was a certificate. The for-profit colleges in the area all offered degrees. The job market here doesn't distinguish between techs that have a certificate and techs who have a degree. In St. Louis you can have your certificate and can work in the hospital, surgery center, private office and organ procurement. You can also become a sales rep (I was offered a position with Stryker and know a tech that works for Smith and Nephew). I would recommend doing research in your job market to see what most places prefer.

3. Yes. We usually get a break in the morning and lunch. If we are in a long case in the morning or our float team is swamped we skip break and get a hour lunch.

4. Nope. Once the patient is wheeled out we help turnover the room and get ready for the next case.

5. At my hospital we have an ortho/neuro specialty team that handles all of the ortho trauma and neuro trauma/emergencies. If its an emergency that affects any other part of the body than any other tech, whether you're general, GU, ENT, etc, can get reassigned to scrub the emergency. So far in my career I've been in about 5 emergent situations.

Thank you for your input BSNBro, very insightful!!!

Hi there,

My responses are only from my personal experience. To answer your questions:

• By law, you are entitled to a break, but amount and timing varies based on your state labor laws. I recommend looking into this. I've worked in places where these rules are not always followed. Where I work now (in Washington state), we consistently receive breaks in the appropriate amount of time. Your schedule will vary during the day so it's hard to tell when you might be able to squeeze in your own break. Some surgeries (or "cases" as we call them) may only last 15-30 minutes, while some could last (although rare) 12 hours or more. It depends on the facility and the speciality.

• The surgical techs I have worked with in the past completed their degree prior to employment. Receiving your certification is recommended and will make you more marketable.

• Your direct patient care will be limited to only the OR. You may have the opportunity to help before induction, but your main focus during this time will be your set up and preparation. After surgery, unless you're required to stay sterile (which is the policy at some facilities) you might be able to help but mostly under the direction of the circulator and the Anesthesiologist or CRNA.

• Emergency surgeries are inevitable even if you don't work at a trauma center. For example, something as simple as a tonsillectomy can result in a hemorrhage and an emergency return to the OR. It's something that you should prepare for and expect.

Hope that helps!

Thank you so much!!! Found a couple of surg tech programs i am looking into!!