Advancing in sterile processing
Sterile processing is considered an entry-level position at many facilities. Well, hospitals may see the position as entry level, but we all know the work we do is far from entry level. Techs that get hired on without any knowledge don’t always realize the opportunity they have in front of them. Even techs that are seasoned within the department sometimes don’t realize that there are many ways to advance and elevate your position. I’m here to tell you that advancement opportunities are aplenty.
If you are new to the field then I’d assume you’d start off as a Sterile Processing Tech l or Central Service Tech or one of the dozen other names we go by. Some facilities have a tiered system such as Tech I, II, III, Lead and Supervisor. Others simply remain under the same title regardless. Then you have your “specialty” positions like instrument coordinator, service specialist (ortho, cardio, general, etc.), OR liaison, and I’m sure there are many other positions depending on the facility and their needs.
The first step to advancing would, of course, be, to get certified. There are two certifying agencies to choose from, the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) and the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). They both offer the initial certification for sterile processing along with several others that you can later obtain. Refer to the “IAHCSMM vs. CBSPD: What’s the difference?” article for clarification on how they differ. Typically hospitals will offer a raise to employees once they have obtained their initial certification. As far as additional certifications go, raises will depend on each facility. Still, if your facility doesn’t recognize raises for additional certifications, I highly recommend you pursue them anyways. Knowledge is power and with the additional knowledge, you become of higher value to the hospital.
Some people prefer to come to work do their job and get their paycheck, nothing more nothing less. To me, that is perfectly fine as long as they do the job to the best of their ability. Now for all techs that have more interest in their job and want to make a difference, I suggest you get more involved. Volunteer for special assignments, join a committee and attend conferences and seminars. With these suggestions again comes more knowledge, but more so than that is the ability to network with other like-minded individuals and industry experts, and stay up to date on industry standards and best practices. You will soon be getting noticed, managers will have heard your name, and recruiters may begin to contact you. Before you know it, you will be in demand. What can be more valuable than an employee that stays connected and engaged with the ever-changing world of sterile processing and continuously seeks to better themselves?
Did I mention that knowledge is a good thing to have? Well, let me continue. In-services are a great opportunity for you to get one on one time with experts from various companies. This is your chance to ask questions, get answers, and enhance your skill set. these in-services are intended to teach you, so take advantage of that.
Look for opportunities to streamline workflow, reduce the error rate, and solidify communication. It’s important to always get permission before making changes and only make changes a spoonful at a time to avoid overwhelming or upsetting staff. If you think that there is a better way or a more efficient way of doing something I encourage you to collaborate with management. You will become recognized as a valuable asset and someone that takes pride in their work. I assure you that it won’t go unnoticed.
When the time comes for annual reviews and your potential raise depends on your performance, you will now have an arsenal of reasons as to why you deserve a top-tier raise. Or perhaps that Lead position finally comes open, I’d bet that you’d have a pretty good chance with this rap sheet. Or maybe you’ve outgrown your facility or they simply don’t have the budget for raises, you now have an impressive resume that is sure to land you your dream job in sterile processing. You are not only a sterile processing tech, you are the sterile processing tech!
Overall what I’m getting at here is that there is opportunity all around you. It’s your job to take advantage of that. Sterile processing is a rewarding career that you can be proud of, something that says I make a difference. Job security is there, pay is on the rise, and a bright future awaits. If you leave here with nothing else please remember this. Knowledge is so very important, its something that cannot be taken away. Gain the know-how, boost your skill set, enhance your abilities and always take advantage of an opportunity to learn! You’ll be on top in no time.