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Career Profile: Surgical Technologist

Career Profile: Surgical Technologist

Lisa Brown, Surgical Technologist, Department of Anesthesia and Surgical Services, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

I chose this career because…

I chose to become a surgical technologist because I entered a health occupations program as part of my high school curriculum, which I enjoyed very much. After completing high school, I entered the United States Air Force. There were lots of career paths from which to choose. Since I enjoyed working with people in a healthcare environment, I chose to become a surgical technologist.

Training & Certification

After completing the first phase of military basic training, I attended the USAF School of Healthcare Services in Wichita Falls, Texas. This program provided all the foundation I needed to become a surgical technologist. Upon completion of the program, I received my certification in surgical technology. I did hands-on-training at the Montgomery Regional Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama.

My typical workday involves…

My typical workday involves providing assistance to the surgeon and other team members during surgical procedures. These procedures range from minimally invasive biopsies to highly complex surgeries. Each procedure must be carried out in a sterile environment to prevent the spread of infection to the patient. I function as the primary scrub person responsible for handling instruments, supplies, and equipment during all surgical procedures. I prepare and maintain highly complex sterile environments. I also assist in the training of new staff members.

Equipment we use during surgeries:

• Baer Hugger – a device to warm patients, often used along with blankets
• Bovie Machine – a device used for cauterization and irrigation
• Urimeter Set – a sterile bag and tubing for urine collection and measurement

What I like best/least about my work…

What I like best about my work is the complexity of some of our surgical cases. After working most of my career in a community hospital, I find it very interesting to work in the NIH research environment. I have worked on surgical cases here that I never knew existed.

What I like least about my work is that not all of my patients are going to have a great outcome. Because NIH is a research facility, many of the patients we see are very ill, and may have been unsuccessful with traditional treatments.

My career goals are…

1. Go to nursing school – Eventually I would like to work as a labor and delivery nurse, or as a nurse in a cardiac catheter laboratory.
2. Own my own plant shop – After retiring I would like to have my own shop specializing in exotic plants.


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