Following my attendance at last week’s AAMI/FDA Summit on Medical Device Reprocessing, I feel impelled to get up on my “soap box” and repeat the sentiments I heard over and over at the summit:
• Elevate Reprocessing to the Level Where We Need It to Be
• Mandate Certification
Yes, I was shocked and amazed too, but there really are people who understand the problems encountered by the Sterile Processing community on a daily basis. They spoke up, and I cannot agree more!
I have witnessed many changes in Sterile Processing since the 1980s, and the processes for cleaning and sterilization have become more and more complicated; yet, the monetary compensation for those who perform this job has remained less than adequate.
Let me ask you:
• How many children do you know say “I want to be a Sterile Processing Technician when I grow up”?
• How many people do you know are even remotely aware of a job or department in the hospital called Sterile Processing?
It is high time that we elevate ourselves as Sterile Processing Techs and get the recognition we deserve.
First and foremost, GET CERTIFIED! It doesn’t matter if certification is mandatory or not in your state. It makes no difference to me with whom you are certified (CBSPD or IAHCSMM). Just get it!
Here’s why I feel so strongly about certification: I am fortunate enough to have worked with people in the past who foresaw the day when certification would become mandatory in my home state of New Jersey. So I took their advice and received my first certification in 1991. This put a few more pennies (yes pennies, not dollars) in my paycheck; however, when the state mandate was passed, I, and many others like myself, was ready for it. Here’s another way to think of it: when a physician becomes Board Certified, it reflects his/her exceptional expertise in a particular specialty. So I ask, if you were searching for a plastic surgeon, would you be satisfied with just any surgeon, or would you select one who was board certified? Certification demonstrates your understanding of the subtle nuances of your job. Furthermore, certification not only proves that you can perform day in and day out, but it also shows you can apply that understanding on paper. So go out and show your exceptional job expertise by getting certified!
Getting certified is only the start. Once you are certified, it is crucial to STAY certified! Go attend as many educational seminars as you can and obtain the CEUs you need (get a few extra for your own good) to keep your certification current. The field of Sterile Processing is constantly evolving: techniques from 25 years ago are outdated, and the instruments and equipment we work with are becoming more and more complex, so stay current with your certification and education. Remember, this is not only for yourself, but also for the people you do your job for–the patients.
Lastly, join your local Central Supply/Sterile Processing organization. Membership has its advantages, such as discounted admission to their CEU seminars. They often can act as advocates for you and your peers when it comes to legislation in your area. Remember, there is power in numbers and solidarity: the more members in your local organization, the more likely they will be to work for its members. Also, once you are a member, remember not to lose your voice. Speak up and let them know your concerns.
I truly believe that we Sterile Processing Technicians are the First Line of Defense Against Infection and the Unsung Heroes of the hospital; however, we will only be taken seriously and receive the recognition we deserve, both verbally and monetarily, if we all:
• elevate ourselves
• get certified
• stay educated
• enlist our legislators to mandate our certification
Above all, the sense of pride and accomplishment that you feel in becoming certified and staying educated will become a driving force in your life, because you will know that you are doing the best job you can for the patients who are ultimately under your care.
A Belated, Happy Central Sterile Processing Week to All,