SPD workers, higher learning institutions have little incentive to offer programs that feed into the profession.”

Continuing education remains a priority The survey results point to continuing education as a top priority among CS/SPD professionals, with 80 percent of respondents participating in 10 or more continuing education courses/les- sons each year, of which 35 percent participate in 20 or more (up 5 percent over 2017). “Sterile Processing and the healthcare field itself, is constantly altering with updated stan- dards, practices, products and technologies. Therefore, it’s important to keep abreast of these changes by focusing on continuing education,” said Melnyk. “Keeping current in education is vital to the profession, as well as ensuring pa- tient safety. Moreover, it enables the certificant to increase his/her fluency within SPD while maintaining, as well as earning, education relevant to his/her respective certification.” “Change is the one constant in today’s healthcare. Central Service (CS)/Sterile Pro- cessing professionals need a solid background in processing basics to enable them to adapt to changes, make good decisions and meet the needs of today’s healthcare providers,” said IAHCSMM’s Education Director Natalie Lind. “We see a constant need for education as CS technicians and managers strive to keep abreast of new information and technologies.” But despite the profession’s commitment to continuing education, only 12 percent of respondents said their hospi- tals give them higher levels of compensation for obtaining certified education units/points.

Natalie Lind

CS/SPD as a profession: stuck below or rising above?

“As the CS/SPD profession gains more inter- nal recognition in their respective hospitals and outpatient surgery centers, the role that is played by those professionals gets noticed by the local community,” said Greene-Golden. “Safety is the number one job of the CS/SPD professional and we strive every day to meet that requirement for our patients. We want every patient to have a great outcome and here at Shady Grove Medical Center we do our work using the best practice standards of the industry.

“Fifteen years ago the CS/SPD professional was unheard of in the hospital in which they worked,” she added. “With increasing SSIs (surgical site infections) and the act to get those numbers under control this group has come to the forefront as having a stake in the game. One driving force is that most hospital administra- tors want to know all of the players in the game in their effort to combat SSIs.” HPN

Secrets to a successful career in Sterile Processing

When asked what CS/SPD professionals can do to advance the field, climb the career ladder and achieve salary gains, those interviewed offered the following advice.

Build your brand “I am a big proponent of recognition starts with yourself — if I don’t look at it as a pro- fession, if I don’t look at it as an actual field, then no one else is going to do that,” said Loraine Durigan, CRCST, CHL, CIS, Materials Manager and CS Supervisor, Florida Hospital. “One of the most powerful tools available for climbing the CS/SPD career ladder

is the ability to build your own personal ‘brand’ in the world of social media,” said Weston “Hank” Balch, BS, MDiv, CRCST, CIS, CHL, Co-Founder and Host for Beyond Clean Podcast. “What makes you different from the other certified technicians in your department? Why are your five years of experience more valuable to an organization than someone else’s five years? How do you demonstrate that? Social media provides a powerful outlet for you to differentiate yourself, your ideas and your professional brand from those around you. “While it’s true that recruiters utilize social media to fill their vacancies, the reality is that

many positions are filled before they are even posted in public,” Balch adds. “Creating a presence on social media allows you to tap into this hidden job market, and ensures you are the person folks think about when advancement roles become available.”

Get certified “If you are interested in moving out into the larger world of sterile processing and surgical instrumentation, seek advance certifications through IAHCSMM, SGNA or CBSPD,” said Casey Czarnowski, a SPD Educator in Fargo, ND. “Those extra letters after you name make a big difference to instrument repair companies, national professional organiza- tions and device and instrument manufacturers. The discipline of flexible endoscope reprocessing is especially newsworthy these days, and any certification or education that you can achieve will be of great value to potential employers. Most importantly, studying for advanced certification contributes to your development as a professional in our field, to the ultimate benefit of your patients.”

Continue your education After Chuck DePreker, CRCST, CIS, CHL, Operating Room/Sterile Processing Supply Chain Manager at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, left the Army, he earned the “Triple Crown” of IAHCSMM certi fications: Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST), Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) and Certified in Healthcare Leadership (CHL). During his career he has also earned Six Sigma belts and completed a distance-learning course from Purdue. He stresses the importance of education in the profession, noting how his own resume has attracted interest from “high-level, upper echelon SPD director” positions, stating: “While the career path for SPD techs is perceived to be a dead one, there is always the

aspects of job security and the opportunity for upward movement — I am living proof of that,” said DePreker. “SPD is a niche that one can hone and develop. Those in the profession should always keep learning, be assertive and present themselves as experts and leaders. I have found ways to present myself as an expert in this profession and become the type of individual that any organization would want to hire.” “Be a voice of education, not demand,” said Albert Huether, Director of the Sterile

Processing Department at Methodist Healthcare System, San Antonio. “Pass your education to others and with humility. The ideal team player starts with you. Continue to educate yourself by understanding the science, business and leadership of Sterile Processing. Then apply all these methods strategically to better service the department, hospital and community.”

Communicate “In our healthcare system, CS/SPD professionals are gaining greater recognition thanks to the efforts of leadership in the SPD and the OR, and in upper administration,” said Czarnowski. “Through constant communication, transparency and cross-education we have created a good rapport with our OR managers and surgeons, clinic managers and executive staff. Constant communication means that leaders from all areas and at every level get together regularly and frequently to discuss problems, successes and new initia- tives. Transparency takes the form of reporting problems immediately and in all directions.”


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