Inside the Operating Room: Q&A with UPMC Surgical Technologists

Header image of three Surgical Technologists in an operating room

Did you know that you don’t need to be a surgeon to experience the fast-paced and thrilling world of the operating room? Before surgery even begins, surgical technologists play an essential role in preparing the patient for surgery and ensuring that the operation goes as smoothly as possible.

But what does it take to be a surgical technologist? We asked three members of our team at UPMC Presbyterian to take us along for the ride and share some insider secrets from the world of surgical technology.


1. Tell us about your education and career path. How did your training prepare you for a career as a surgical technologist?

I received my associate’s degree in surgical technology from Pittsburgh Technical College. My school training prepared me well for this career, with a full six months of hands-on clinical experience in the operating room. That training and preparation allowed me to experience what I would be doing on a daily basis when I launched my career. – Jenny B., Surgical Technologist, UPMC Presbyterian

I was trained as a surgical technologist in a two-year program at Sanford-Brown Institute. The instructors and labs there were amazing, and I knew that I was as prepared to work in the operating room as anyone could be. That being said, every day in the operating room is different, and you can never be quite prepared for what you’ll experience! – Marlaina W., Lead Surgical Technologist, UPMC Presbyterian

2. How have you been able to grow in your position and advance your career since coming to UPMC?

I’ve been able to grow and advance in my career by taking the opportunity to learn different specialties and to become the best I can be in my service. By memorizing each step in my procedures, I know that I’m prepared for any unexpected or emergency situations the day will bring. – Olivia C., Surgical Technologist, UPMC Presbyterian

I started out as a Surgical Tech, and after eight years here at UPMC Presbyterian I am now a Lead Surgical Tech. We have four-step career ladder for Surgical Techs, which I have been able to follow. Your career growth is determined by the length of time as you spend as a Tech and the skill level and number of services you can perform at a proficient level. – Marlaina W.

3. Walk us through a typical day in the life of a surgical technologist. What do your daily responsibilities entail?

A typical day for me starts with checking my assignment to see what cases I’m assigned to for the day. I meet with my nurse to help gather supplies and set up our room. Days in the operating room can either be busy or slow, but whatever the day brings, it helps to know that you’ll be ready for anything! – Olivia C.

Because I typically work evenings, I could do one of many things: relieve a morning shift person, start a new case, or go into a trauma that has come up.  If I am on trauma, I check the rooms for proper supplies, medications, and equipment to make sure we are prepared for a traumatic event. If I am starting a new case, I speak with the surgeon to learn about the case and speak with the patient and introduce myself. Then I gather supplies and spread the room and prepare for the case. Marlaina W.

4. What makes your work as a surgical technologist rewarding or meaningful to you?

It’s pretty simple — just knowing that I am part of a group of individuals that is making a difference in someone’s life is rewarding and meaningful to me. – Jenny B.


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