Operation Room Technician Job Facts

The operating room technician is an important part of the surgical team and is critical to the success of any operation. They are also referred to as surgical technicians or, "scrubs". The operating room technician is responsible for making sure the operating room is kept in clean and sterile condition, as well as insuring all surgical instruments and machinery are kept in good running order.

Definition and duties

The ORT also helps to prepare the patient for surgery by washing and shaving them. They also assist during the operation by handing surgical instruments to the doctor, or other members of the team. Other duties for the operating room technician may include helping prepare laboratory specimens for analysis and also to transport patients to, and from, the operating room. The ORT is not qualified to perform any actual surgical procedures or dispense medicine.

Education and training

Many operating room technicians receive their education from community colleges or vocational schools. A high school degree is required to become an ORT. The usual training curriculum includes classes in anatomy, pharmacology and medical ethics. Special attention is placed on learning techniques to prevent infection and disease. The education must come from a school that has been certified by the Commission in Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Technicians are required to be certified before they are hired. Most certifications are obtained from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. Technicians must pass an intense examination to become Certified Surgical Technologists. The exam is given approximately every four years to make sure techs are up to date on the latest technological advances.

Hours and environment

Operating room technicians generally work a 40 hour work week, but those hours tend to be very irregular. An ORT may be called upon to work at any time of the day or night, with third shift hours being not untypical for those just starting. They will also work on weekends and holidays.

The nature of the job ensures that the ORT works in a very clean and sterile interior environment. Most of the tech's day is spent on their feet, so a certain amount of stamina is necessary. Stress can also be part of the job. Operations on patients can be stressful and the operating surgeon will expect the OR to be in perfect condition. Additionally, all orders must be carried out immediately. Being an operating room technician can provide tremendous satisfaction in improving a patient's quality of life.

Salary and outlook

The median salary for an operating room technician is $39,293 per year. The low end of ORT salaries is $28,000 per year; the high end is somewhere around $50,000 a year. The hospital location and length of residency have a great deal of impact on salary. The employment outlook for ORTs is better than average, with growth forecast for the next several years.