A Day in the Life of a Surge Tech-5 Part Series

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A Day in the Life of a Surge Tech-5 Part Series
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On August 08, 2017
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Read a facinating story...

Part 1 of 5

“Okay, so let’s start with the basics. What is the first thing you want to know when setting up your OR?” Leslie looked at her student who was nervously trying to answer but stammering instead. “It’s ok honey. I know you are nervous, but you have been training for this for a while, so, you know the answer” she said with a slight smile. “What do you think you need to ask before even beginning to think about setting up your tray?” Leslie prodded. Ashley stared at her with confidence in her eyes and boldly stated, “You need to know if the doctor is left-handed or right-handed.”
“You are so right!” Leslie exclaimed with pride. “You have to know if your doctor is left-handed or right-handed because they will expect it to be set to their preference. So for Dr. Lewis, you will want to set up right-handed.”
Ashley breathed a sigh of relief. This was her first full week with her preceptor at the hospital, and like any student she was still a little nervous. But she was beginning to feel more comfortable in her new setting. Leslie, her surgical tech preceptor was slender and tall. She seemingly moved about the hallways as if floating over the floor and she had this calming tone that soothed the operating room when she spoke. Having her as an instructor made everything seem so much easier. But, when Leslie was in the OR – she was all business. There was no room for mistakes. Linda made sure that everything was perfect and she expected the same from her students. “But this is so new,” Ashley thought to herself. “How can I ever be as good as her? She seems to know what the doctor wants even before the doctor himself! It would take years to get to that point!” Ashley thought about day that was ahead and started to get worried. She had never been in an actual operating room before and this was going to be life changing. The question now was, how prepared was she to actually be of any use?

Part 2 of 5

Scrubbing up was fun. Though it was something she had practiced countless times in class, she had never done it for real. “Wow!” she thought, “I’m actually going to assist in a real surgery! This is going to be amazing.” Ashley counted the number of scrubs each time on the four planes of her fingers. “I sure hope I don’t forget anything,” she said to herself. “Scrub the fingers, scrub the fingernails, scrub the arms.” Finishing her counts, Ashley made her way to the gowning table. She slowly lifted a folded gown and raised her arms to slide into it, careful not to touch anything. Next, she worked her hands through the gown sleeve and brought it over her gown sleeve cuff. “Whew!” she thought. “It’s so much more intense when you’re scrubbing for a real surgery.” Feeling satisfied that she had been careful not to contaminate anything, Ashley looked for Leslie.
“OK Leslie, what’s next?” Leslie was busily looking over the schedule for the day and determining what they would need in the OR. Leslie turned to Ashley and said, “Today we have a very serious case. We have a small child who will be receiving a new kidney. It’s going to be a long surgery and a very delicate procedure, but one that will save this child’s life.” Ashley suddenly stopped breathing. “A child? Oh my goodness! This is going to be more than I expected on my first day. Now I’m really nervous!”

Part 3 of 5

“Okay, so let’s start with the basics. What is the first thing you want to know when setting up your OR?” Leslie looked at her student who was nervously trying to answer, but stammering instead. “It’s ok honey. I know you are nervous, but you have been training for this for a while, so, you know the answer” she said with a slight smile. “What do you think you need to ask before even beginning to think about setting up your tray?” Leslie prodded. Ashley stared at her with confidence in her eyes and boldly stated, “You need to know if the doctor is left-handed or right-handed.”
“You are so right!” Leslie exclaimed with pride. “You have to know if your doctor is left-handed or right-handed because they will expect it to be set to their preference. So for Dr. Lewis, you will want to set up right-handed.”
Ashley breathed a sigh of relief. This was her first full week with her preceptor at the hospital, and like any student, she was still a little nervous. But she was beginning to feel more comfortable in her new setting. Leslie, her surgical tech preceptor was slender and tall. She seemingly moved about the hallways as if floating over the floor, and she had this calming tone that soothed the operating room when she spoke. Having her as an instructor made everything seem so much easier. But, when Leslie was in the OR – she was all business. There was no room for mistakes. Linda made sure that everything was perfect and she expected the same from her students. “But this is so new,” Ashley thought to herself. “How can I ever be as good as her? She seems to know what the doctor wants even before the doctor himself! It would take years to get to that point!” Ashley thought about the day that was ahead and started to get worried. She had never been in an actual operating room before and this was going to be life-changing. The question now was, how prepared was she to actually be of any use?

Part 4 of 5

The start of the surgery was a blur. Everything was happening so fast and with such precision that Ashley couldn’t think of anything except for her job. It was absolutely amazing to her that they could give this child a new kidney without ever removing the old one. “Clamps” the surgeon called. Without even thinking, Ashley handed the surgeon the clamps and watched him hold the renal artery. She realized that the hours of studying, training, reading, practicing, and researching had all paid off. She felt so prepared that she didn’t even blink an eye when the surgeon needed something. She knew exactly what to do. Handing him the C-1 needle to sew in the new kidney seemed surreal, like something out of a YouTube video. She had seen surgeries like this dozens of times, but to see one in real life was just so different. This time, however, the outcome was unknown, and watching every move of the doctor felt as though the world were turning in slow motion. Now the vessel was closed and the next step was to flush it with heparinized saline to ensure there were no clots in the blood. Everything looked good.  It didn’t take long before all of the clamps were off and the kidney started to turn pink. “Sign of life!” the surgeon blared. “It’s turning pink and we have the start of a new beginning!” Though everyone’s face was covered by a mask, Ashley knew that they were all smiling and feeling relieved. But though the difficult part was over, there was still a long way to go.

Part 5 of 5

“Let’s start to close up,” instructed the surgeon. The kidney transplant on the young boy had been very successful and gone just as planned. Ashley was proud that she had made it through her first actual surgery. It had been a stressful morning, but realizing the miracle that had just taken place, gave her energy and satisfaction. She had done a good job for the team and she felt very confident in her abilities. While she had gotten good grades in school and worked hard, real life can be very different than what you practice in school.
Ashley began sorting the instruments and cleaning up the trays. Thinking about what needed to be done, she started counting the sponges as part of her post-op procedures. “I must be counting wrong,” Ashley thought to herself. “There are supposed to be 80 sponges here and I’m missing one.” Ashley started looking around the floor to see if one had fallen. “I don’t want to make a scene here, but something is wrong,” she thought to herself. Ashley started to sweat. Did she say something to the doctor? There were 80 sponges when they started, there should be 80 sponges when they finished! Hesitantly, Ashley turned to the surgeon and said, “Doctor, we are missing a sponge. I know I counted 80 when we came in here, and I only have 79 now. I hate to say it, but I think there is one still in our patient. I am not finding it anywhere!”
The doctor looked at her in disbelief. “Are you sure?” he said. “Yes, sir. I am sure. I counted all of the sponges twice. There were 80 sponges when we started, but now there are only 79.”
“OK” said the doctor. “We have to go back in and see if we left one. It certainly can’t stay in there.”
Luckily, the team was still suturing the patient, so the little boy was not completely closed. Carefully, they removed the stitches and pulled back the muscle. There it was. The missing sponge had been left inadvertently where the transplant took place.
“Oh my God!” exclaimed Leslie. “We have never done anything like this! I’m so glad you caught this Ashley! That sponge could have caused this boy so many complications.”
“I’m glad I did my counts because otherwise I would have never known,” said Ashley.
“Well, that is why following protocols is so important”, said Leslie. “There is a reason we do things the way we do, because things can be forgotten. You did a great job Ashley. You have no idea the pain and infection this could have caused for this little boy. You are going to be a great Surgical Technician. Of that - there is no doubt!”
Ashley smiled and felt very proud of the contributions she made to this team and to this little boy. Becoming a Surge Tech was the best thing she had ever done, but never did she realize that someday she could be saving someone’s life. The calling to work in medicine had always been in her dreams, but for so long she ignored them. Yet now, after all of the schooling, after all of the studying, she was truly watching her dreams become reality.

Do you think now is the time for you to pursue a career as a surg tech?  http://sctoday.edu/programs/surgical-technology-aas