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Surgical Preceptors - SurgicalTechSuccess
January 18, 2006

Recently, a CST/CFA Educator submitted an article about Preceptors & Students, which inspired me to write this newsletter. I will include the link to his article at the end of this newsletter.

If you've worked with a surgical preceptor or if you are a surgical preceptor, you know how much this role can affect the career and education of a surgical tech.

A preceptor is very simply defined as a teacher or educator.

Although the definition may be simple, the role of a preceptor is not.

You see, whether you're a student, new graduate, or even an experienced surgical professional, YOU WILL have a preceptor.

Even if you're experienced in the operating room, chances are there will be a point in your career when you will start working at a new facility and more than likely you'll have someone who will precept (or teach/show) you how things are run in that particular facility.

The reason I bring all of this up is because preceptors sometimes lose sight of the fact that they were once new in the operating room or new to their particular facility, thus occasionally having a lack of patience for the new tech (even if the new tech is experienced).

Students, on the other hand, sometimes take the role of the preceptor too lightly and don't give them the respect they deserve. It's not uncommon for a student or new tech to think that the preceptor is always telling them what and how to do things…

Well, that’s part of the role of a preceptor. They will teach you the how's & what's of their particular facility, surgical procedures, surgeons preferences, etc.

I can remember a time as a traveler when I started a new contract and was assigned an O.R. Nurse as my preceptor. Well, she just simply did not like me from day one. No matter how hard I tried to be nice, professional, and sometimes even funny, she just didn’t like me…

One day I even told her that if she gave me a little break with the attitude and get to know me & my skill level, she would eventually like me. She simply replied “I seriously doubt it…”

Now to me that was kind of funny, and to be quite honest about this story, I had a bit of an attitude that seem to say, “I’m an experienced tech and there is no way an O.R. nurse can possibly tell me anything new about my job…”

It turned out that she was a surgical tech for many years before she became an RN. Although she really didn’t like being a preceptor for surgical techs anyway, I didn’t realize that my surgical confidence/attitude/ego was turned up just a bit too high at the time.

My point is that preceptors have a way of making your transition to an operating room nice and smooth or difficult and bumpy.

AND as the person being precepted (or taught) it is your responsibility to keep an open mind, learn from your preceptor, leave any type of PERSONAL attitude at the door, and work as a team player.

Not all preceptors are going to be good or “nice & friendly” and not all people being precepted are going to be easy to teach.

If you’re a student, realize that most preceptors have the experience they need to teach you a thing or two…

If you’re an experienced surgical tech, give your preceptor the benefit of the doubt and don’t let your confidence (or ego) get in the way of learning the ropes at a new facility.

AND finally, if you’re a preceptor, simply remember you were once in the role of the person you are teaching. Don’t be too difficult with them and give them a chance to “catch on”. We all learn at different levels…

The Surgical Tech Success Handbook talks about the relationship of the “newbie” (to include experienced techs) and the preceptor in more detail. You can take a look at the entire package here:

Also, I would like to personnally thank Mr. T. Lescarbeau, CST/CFA Educator, for contributing his article/tips about Preceptors, & Student Concerns. You can see his work published here:

If you would like to have an article/tip or a Success Story published relating to the field of Surgical Technology, Submit your info on the Become Published link here:

Until next time~

Best Regards!

Your Friend,


p.s. If you want a ton of detailed information, motivation, and resources, you really should take a look at the Surgical Tech Success Handbook package:

Thank You!

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill
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