When picturing the operating room (OR), most people envision surgeons performing intricate procedures. However, becoming a surgeon requires many years of training that may not be accessible to everyone. The good news is that you don’t have to become a surgeon to work in the OR. Cardiovascular surgical technologists, also known as CVOR techs, play a vital role in the operating room and have rewarding careers. If you’re interested in working with surgical equipment and being part of complex cardiovascular procedures, this article will guide you on how to succeed as a CVOR tech.
The Role of a CVOR Tech
CVOR techs are crucial in ensuring patient safety and the successful execution of cardiovascular procedures. Their primary responsibilities include preparing instruments, supplies, and equipment before each surgery. As each surgeon has their preferences, CVOR techs may consult surgical preference cards to determine the necessary items for the procedure. In addition to setting up, CVOR techs also:
- Assist surgeons by passing instruments.
- Apply dressings to closed wounds.
- Sponging or suctioning the surgery site.
- Maintain a sterile field during surgery.
- Collaborate with the healthcare team to provide excellent patient care.
- Perform inventory counts and order necessary supplies.
- Ensure proper draping of patients.
- Count and track surgical items.
- Sterilize instrument trays.
- Label and route surgical specimens.
How to Become a CVOR Tech
One of the appealing aspects of a CVOR tech career is that you don’t need a four-year degree. However, completing a surgical technology certificate program is a minimum requirement. These programs vary in structure but typically cover anatomy, pathophysiology, medical terminology, and other relevant subjects. Clinical components are also included to provide hands-on experience in the OR.
Some employers may prefer an associate’s degree over a certificate. If you haven’t taken any college coursework, you may need to complete general education requirements such as English, history, science, and math before focusing on surgical technology.
Knowledge and Skills
Successful CVOR techs possess a range of skills, including:
- Active listening: Paying close attention to colleagues, asking questions, and incorporating feedback.
- Inventory management: Keeping track of surgical equipment and supplies.
- Operations monitoring: Regularly checking monitors and gauges to ensure equipment functionality.
- Equipment maintenance: Basic troubleshooting and maintenance of OR equipment.
- Coordination: Working seamlessly with the OR team, requiring excellent manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
- Time management: Efficiently managing time to avoid delays in procedures.
A solid knowledge base of anatomy, physiology, equipment usage, and draping techniques is also essential.
Professional Licensing and Certification
While professional licensing is not currently mandatory for CVOR techs, certain states require registration with medical or nursing boards. The Association of Surgical Technologists recommends Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification for CVOR techs in several states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, and more. Regulations may vary, so it’s important to stay updated on current requirements.
Continuing Education and Professional Development
Holding CST certification often requires completing continuing education (CE) credits. The number of credits depends on the renewal cycle, with techs on a two-year cycle needing 30 credits and those on a four-year cycle requiring 60. CE activities must be approved by the NBSTSA and can include hospital in-service programs, journal tests, industry events, national conference attendance, and college courses. Even without CE requirements, pursuing job-related courses, attending conferences, and participating in training programs can enhance your skills and knowledge.
Employment Outlook for CVOR Techs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for CVOR techs is expected to increase by 6% from 2021 to 2031, resulting in over 7,000 new jobs. Opportunities are likely to arise due to increased demand for healthcare, new facilities opening in underserved areas, and the retirement of older CVOR techs.
Top Employers and Location Demands
General medical and surgical hospitals account for the majority (around 74%) of CVOR tech employment. Outpatient care centers and physician offices make up about 12% each. CVOR techs can also find employment in dental offices and specialty hospitals. Though states like California and Texas have the highest number of CVOR tech jobs due to population density, South Dakota has the highest concentration of CVOR techs. Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Alabama also have significant concentrations of CVOR techs. Major metropolitan areas with high employment levels include New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Chicago.
CVOR Tech Salary
According to Vivian Health’s salary data, the average staff CVOR tech earns $28.66 per hour. However, travel CVOR techs earn even higher wages, with an average of $2,588 per week. Salaries can vary by state, with Massachusetts, New York, and West Virginia offering the highest average weekly rates.
Working as a CVOR Tech
Working as a CVOR tech can be a fast-paced and rewarding career where you make a real difference in patients’ lives. However, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that come with the job. CVOR techs must balance multiple responsibilities, from preparing for surgeries to maintaining supplies and equipment. Working environments may change regularly for travel CVOR techs, which can add additional stress. The physical demands of the job, such as extended periods of standing and lifting, may cause initial discomfort until your body adjusts. Additionally, the emotional toll of complex procedures and potential complications can be challenging.
Tips for Advancing Your Career
Once you have established a strong foundation as a CVOR tech, there are several steps you can take to grow and advance your career. Creating a detailed profile on Vivian Health’s Universal Profile is an excellent way to connect with potential employers and access a wide range of job opportunities. Networking is also crucial, and joining professional organizations such as the Association of Surgical Technologists can provide valuable connections and learning opportunities. Lastly, reading employer reviews on platforms like Vivian Health can give you insights into specific facilities and help you make informed career decisions.
If you’re seeking a challenging and impactful career, becoming a CVOR tech could be a perfect fit. With the right education, skills, and dedication, you can contribute to patient safety and be an essential part of cardiovascular procedures. Stay updated on licensing requirements, pursue continuing education, and leverage professional networks to enhance your career prospects. Working as a CVOR tech can be physically demanding and emotionally challenging, but the rewards of making a positive impact on patients’ lives are immeasurable.