OPERATING ROOM TECHNICIAN
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.