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Army Air Force Navy

Operating Room Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time

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As a member of the military, Operating Room Technicians are responsible for the provision of an aseptic environment enabling the safe performance of operative procedures in both static (at home) and operational (deployed) environments. They are an integral member of the surgical team, providing perioperative care, post-operative care, assisting the surgeons and anesthesiologists and performing orthopaedic casting procedures in support of surgery.  OR Tech’s are also responsible for all Medical Device Reprocessing services, processing surgical materials and instruments.

An Operating Room Technician has the following primary duties:

  • providing a clean and safe environment for patient treatment and for assisting surgeons and anesthesiologists in all facets of the operative procedure;
  • operationally maintaining all field OR equipment and for providing onsite training for OR Field operations as well as overseeing the setup of a field OR;
  • assisting in the recovery of patients from anesthesia;
  • decontamination, cleansing, maintenance and procurement of materials and instruments and for the packaging and sterilization of supplies;
  • Operating and maintaining medical and life-support equipment;
  • Initiating, maintaining and distributing medical records, documents, reports and returns; and
  • Maintaining, replenishing and accounting for general and medical supplies.

Work environment

Operating Room Technicians spend most of their careers working directly in civilian hospitals in military OR teams or integrated with a civilian team within Canada, and deployed on international missions. They usually work a regular Monday to Friday schedule but may also work in shifts or on call depending on the circumstances.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview




I’m Master Corporal Tyler Fagan from Halifax, Nova Scotia, an Operating Room Technician posted to 1 Field Ambulance in Edmonton, Alberta.

And I’m Sergeant Anita Easton from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, an Operating Room Technician currently serving at 1 Canadian Field Hospital in Petawawa, Ontario.

EASTON: Operating Room Technicians spend most of their time working in civilian operating rooms in local hospitals near the Canadian Armed Forces base they are posted to. They may work directly with military members or be fully integrated into the civilian environment. They will also have opportunities to deploy on international missions as part of the team that provides medical support to multinational coalition forces as well as civilians.

EASTON: We all look forward to deployments because that is the chance for us to really prove what we’ve been working hard towards.  That’s the final end state of why we do what we do.

FAGAN: Deployed, we’ll be responsible for everything from setting up all of our equipment, maintaining it and monitoring it, doing all the daily checks that we need to do. We kind of do it all.

FAGAN: As an Operating Room Technician, you’re providing direct assistance to anaesthesiologists and surgeons, and you’re required to be in high performance mode at all times.

EASTON: Here at home, we work with registered perioperative nurses, anaesthetists, surgeons of various specialties and critical care nurses to provide all types of surgical procedures to Forces members as well as to civilians.  

FAGAN: When we’re in garrison, we’ll typically be working sterilizing and re-processing our different surgical instruments and supplies, restocking, taking care of patients, running the clinics, doing different things around like that. We will jump in and help out with casting, we will do the dressing changes in the post-op care, we will help and be there for the patient’s very first visit, when they’re there for their consult. We’re there during the surgery and we’re also there post-operatively to check up and see how they’re doing when there comes the follow-up.

EASTON: As an Operating Room Technician, you’ll constantly face new challenges.  You might accompany a group of specialists and medical professionals to set up an operation room in a war-torn region of the world, or you might be working in a very busy surgical department of a major hospital assisting in very complex cases.

EASTON: What I like most about my job is the variety of things that we get to do. So every day, we can be doing something different.

FAGAN: Coolest part of the job has to be just getting in there, hands-on in the operating room and seeing all the different anatomy, and learning about the different specialties that you’re working with. There’s constantly stuff evolving in the operating room environment and in medicine in general. So we get to keep up with all that stuff and it never gets boring.

FAGAN: Once your training is completed, you’ll be posted to either Edmonton or Ottawa.  You’ll continue to maintain your skills as an Operating Room Technician in a civilian hospital as part of a civilian team, or working directly with a military Operating Room team.

FAGAN: So my very first day in the operating room, within 5 minutes, they had me scrub into my very first case, I was hands-on with the patient, and right away I got a chance to delve into the surgical world and see the inside of a human abdomen for the first time.

FAGAN: Operating Room Technicians in the Forces share all the same opportunities to maintain and improve their skills as their civilian counterparts such as orthopaedic specialty training, endoscopy assisting and various other specialties adding to an already impressive skill-set.

EASTON: My experience with the military and especially with this trade really does leave me with a sense of pride, not just in what I’ve done but in what my co-workers do.  It’s such a team-based trade, and you’re almost like family.

FAGAN: The uniform is very important to me. I grew up an avid – and still am – a huge hockey fan. I support Team Canada all the way, watching hockey. I was never good enough at hockey to make it that high so now I get to wear my Canada flag on my shoulder every day.  And that’s just as good for me.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Registered Nursing Assistant
  • Licensed Practical Nurse with perioperative specialty
  • Medical Device Reprocessing Technician
  • Endoscopic Reprocessing Technician
  • Nurse Educator


The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

The training consists of 4 modules. Module 1 is a 2-year Practical Nurse Diploma at an approved Canadian educational institution. Module 2 is an Operating Room Practical Nurse course either at Algonquin College (Ottawa) or Grant MacEwan University (Edmonton) for a duration of 6 to 8 months. Module 3 is an On the Job Training (OJT) program in a Canadian health care facility which is comprised of 1500hrs, including hours completed during the preceptorship in Module 2 in the operating room and is divided as follows: 500hrs in orthopedic surgery, 500hrs in general surgery and 500hrs in other specialties. Module 4 consists of a Surgical Services Field Orientation.

Following the basic occupation training Operating Room Technicians will take a course in Medical Device Reprocessing (MDR).

The Advanced Education in Orthopedics for LPN’s course is offered when you progress in rank and consists of advanced casting and orthopedic appliance application and maintenance.

Entry plans

Applicants must hold a Practical Nursing diploma, have a current license to practice as an LPN/RPN from a provincial or territorial regulatory authority, and a letter of good standing from the applicant’s professional regulatory authority. It is an asset for applicants with a certification as an Operating Room Technician (LPN/RPN with peri-operative specialty).

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter:

Non-Commissioned Member Subsidized Entry Training Plan (NCM-STEP)

Since this position requires specialty training, the Canadian Armed Forces will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM STEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive a full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the Forces for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the Forces and the appropriate college.

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter:

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.