Kelly Lockman, surgical technologist at St. John's hospital in Maplewood, talks about her work.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: I start at about 6:45 a.m., setting up sterile instruments and supplies and getting the equipment ready. I have to anticipate what the surgeon will need during a procedure and maintain the sterile field. I work side-by-side with a registered nurse. I gown and glove the surgeon and his assistant and drape the patient with a sterile drape. During the procedure, I pass instruments, hold retractors to open the operative field and help the surgeon do what he needs to do. After the surgeon closes the incision, we clean up the patient, who goes to post-anesthesia care. Then I prepare for the next surgery. I work with different surgeons on procedures such as gynecologic, urologic, orthopedic, spinal and oral. I also assist surgeons who use robotic arms, draping the arms so they are sterile and putting instruments into the robot's arms at the bedside while the surgeon works at a console, guiding the robot during surgery.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger health care picture?
A: In the operating room, my role is very valuable because it supports the team concept by enabling the registered nurse to focus maximum attention on the patient. This is also more cost-effective and efficient.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I interact with surgeons, nurses, nurse anesthetists, nursing assistants, laboratory and radiology technologists, physician assistants, my manager and director.
Q: Why did you become a surgical technologist?
A: I knew I wanted to try something in health care. I thought surgery would be quite interesting.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: I love that I'm part of a team that has to work well together to get our job done, to get the patient well.