Determining the Proper Fit
What exactly is the role of the SPD technician? First, one needs to understand what SPD does. SPD is the department that receives, cleans, decontaminates, assembles, disinfects, and/or sterilizes reusable medical and surgical devices for safe and effective patient care. Depending on the healthcare facility, the department might be designated Central Services, Central Supply, Central Sterile Supply, Sterile Processing, Material Services, or another name. It has been recommended by several organizations, including the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. (CBSPD), that the department be called Sterile Processing to reflect the majority of the work done in the present-day department. Sterile Processing functions are not restricted to hospitals, devices are reprocessed in Ambulatory Surgery Centers, Endoscopy Centers, dental offices and doctor’s offices
Is this the right profession for me? Working in a Sterile Processing Department (SPD) requires a technician to take on multi-dimensional tasks and responsibilities that require specific knowledge and skills, including an understanding of the following:
- Cleaning, decontamination, packaging and sterilization of surgical instrumentation.
- Processing and reprocessing of reusable medical devices
- Cleaning, testing, assembly and distribution of movable patient care equipment.
- The facility’s purchasing procedures
- Storage, handling, and distribution of sterile surgical instrumentation and devices, as well as, inventory control and cost recovery systems.
The nature of the work performed in SPD means that patient and personnel safety is paramount. Sterile Processing practices are highly regulated. However, knowing you are making a difference in the care of patients is very rewarding.
Regardless of the specific scope of its work in a given facility, SPD is responsible for providing dependable, reliable services to enhance the quality of patient care. In other words, instrument sets, patient care equipment and other medical devices must be processed and distributed in an accurate and timely manner, so that patient care is not adversely affected.
The important work performed in SPD permits surgeons to perform surgery and patients to heal. It has been said that the department is “the heart of the hospital.” Any healthcare facility would find it difficult to function even for a few hours without SPD.
In an Ambulatory Surgery Facility, the setup is usually similar to, but smaller than, a hospital setting. The Decontamination Area is separate from the Preparation and Packaging Area. The sterilizers are usually located in the Preparation and Packaging Area. There is usually a separate Sterile Storage Area, but sterile trays and sets are sometimes stored in closed cabinets within the Operating Rooms (ORs) or the Preparation and Packaging Area.
The MOST important part of being a Sterile Processing worker is to care about the patients. The work is challenging due to the high work volume and sometimes high stress, however, it is very rewarding work. This is because Sterile Processing Technicians affect every patient in the facility, which is significant.
If you have family constraints, you can take the Sterile Processing Ambulatory Surgery Course and work in an Ambulatory Surgery Center. These centers do not require weekends, holidays or off-shifts. However, the type of instruments and sterilizers are similar. You will find Sterile Processing very rewarding, because you are really helping patients. You might not be directly in the Operating Room, but the instruments you prepare certainly are.
What Does an Endoscopy Processing Technician Do? Every day, the Gastrointestinal/Endoscopy Department (GI/Endo) performs essential functions to support the medical and surgical care of patients. These functions are essential to the care and safety of these patients.
Flexible endoscopes are some of the most sophisticated and, unfortunately, challenging devices to clean. In addition to their unusual design, there are multiple reprocessing steps involved, all of which are critical to effective high-level disinfection or sterilization of the scopes and their accessories.
Our educational materials have been written to help Flexible Endoscope Reprocessing Technicians to understand the knowledge and skills needed for competent performance in Flexible Scope Reprocessing. Although there are some hands-on courses available, most of the training is performed on-the-job. This training might not include all the core competencies needed. The Endoscopy Course can be used to update your practices. It is strongly recommended to obtain hands-on training at a local facility by volunteering your time. This course addresses all of the competencies required and provides additional information to increase awareness of the scope of practice of Flexible Endoscope Reprocessing Technicians.