Operation Theatre Technology is a detailed technical occupation in the field of health science. Also recognised by the names Operating Theatre Technicians (OTT), Surgical Scrubs and Operating Room Assistants, these nominal medical professionals are an important part of the operation unit team who work alongside with the surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurse in order to provide quality patient care throughout the surgery.

These technicians make sure that every single process in the operation theatre is as secure and flourishing as possible. Their prime duty is to take care of all the work and management of the operation theatre which comprise looking after all the surgical instruments, their sterilisation, preparation of dressing table, operation theatre table, instrument table as well as anesthesia table.

They also look after the drugs necessary for surgery, anesthetic gases, drapes and all the linen and their sterilisation. They bring together both sterile and non-sterile tools and at the same time regulate them to make sure that all are functioning appropriately.

Skills needed: Apart from the fundamental educational requirement, outstanding scientific, communication and behavioural skills are necessary for surgical technologists. An eye for detail, accuracy and critical thinking is a must. Teamwork is essential as this job necessitate the person to work in partnership with healthcare providers.

Other prerequisites necessary are optimistic attitude, compassion and high levels of endurance and dedication. They must have the aptitude to work under minimal regulation, unpredictable shifts and long hours and must remain alert during operations. Surgical technologist also must have outstanding deftness to grip various instruments in complicated ways.

Career prospects: It is the Operation Theatre Technician who supervises the circumstances in the operating room and continually measures the requirements of the patient and surgical team. Surgical team members function in two capacities, i.e. nonsterile and sterile.

Throughout a surgical procedure, the area right away nearby the patient is referred to as the sterile field and anyone functioning in the sterile field must scrub and put on sterile gloves and a gown. The sterile team members are the doctor, the surgical assistant, and the surgical technologist.

During the surgery, scrub technicians in sterile field offer suction and retraction as engaged, and hand the surgeon any essential instruments, sponges and other items.

Technicians functioning outside the sterile field are said to be circulating, which means they help the other team members in monitoring the significance of the patient and the procedure. They provide extra supplies and sterile instruments as required during the surgery, and assist the scrub tech maintain a count of pads and sponges in use.

Surgical Technicians clean and arrange the operating room prior to and after each procedure, ensuring that it is completely stocked with instrument and sterile disposable items. They must have the crucial knowledge and aptitude to make sure quality patient care throughout the operative process and is constantly on watchfulness for upholding of the sterile field.

Surgical technicians have differing tasks. The major tasks execute by a surgical technician include:

  • Make the operating room ready for surgery
  • Arranging, checking, attaching/ detaching and adjusting surgical equipments
  • Give technical assistance to surgeons, nurses and anesthetists
  • Set patients comfortably for surgery
  • Get ready the patient for surgery by shaving and disinfecting incision sites
  • Supplying equipment according to instruction
  • Solutions and medications to the surgeon
  • Sterile dressings at the end of surgery
  • Locating patients to and from the theatre and wards

Hospitals are the crucial employers of Surgical/ operation theatre technologists. They work in the operating theatres, ICUs and emergency unit of hospitals and nursing homes. Openings are available in the areas of transplant teams, gynaecology sections, orthopaedic clinics, cancer units, surgery, special care baby units etc. and also in the field of research, culture and training. They are chosen in the workplaces of physicians or dentists who carry out outpatient surgery.

Academic qualification: Diploma in Operation Theatre Technician, BSc and MSc in Surgical Technology are the main courses in this field. The eligibility criteria for the two-year diploma and three-year BSc course are 10+2/ intermediate pass or its equal. The applicants must have a minimum of 50 per cent marks in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics in the 10+2 examination.

Course curriculum of surgical technology includes of meticulous classroom training in subjects like Anatomy and Physiology, Biomedical Science, Pharmacology, Pathology, Microbiology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Basics of surgical procedures, equipment operation and handling skills are imparted during the course. The students are also provided hands-on clinical experience, seminars, computer-aided knowledge and visits to manufacturing units.

Remuneration: Pay scale in surgical technology varies upon one’s qualification, knowledge and apparently the status of the hospital. Fresh graduates can anticipate something not less than Rs 15,000 – Rs 20,000. The salary of an individual increases with their experience.

Operation Theatre Technology Colleges

There are many paramedical institutes as well as hospitals across the country that offers courses in Surgical Technology/ Operation Theatre Technology. The courses offered by the hospital are generally associated with a college or university.

Institutes/ Colleges offering this course are as Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, Delhi Paramedical and Management Institute (DPMI), Council of Education and Development Program (CEDP Skill Institute), Mumbai and Institute of Paramedical, Management and Technologies (IPMT), New Delhi.

During a surgical process, along with the surgeon and nurse, Operation Theatre Technician also plays a main role in the winning outcome of the surgery process with their levelheadedness and alertness. They foresee the needs of the surgeon and respond quickly to crisis by providing suitable instruments in the right manner. This is a job with great accountability as any careless approach by a can cause any significant operation to go wrong.

The writer is director of CEDP Skill Institute, Mumbai.