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Democratizing Passion in the Workplace

The surgical day begins and ends with the central sterile processing department. Central sterile technicians begin their day where the previous shift has left off, and so ensues the hum of the department. We don’t really know how many trays we’ve inspected so far, how often we’ve answered the phone, or the number of times the washers have rung out. We all have the same question, though: when is lunch?

Let’s face it, there will be a time in our career that we feel bored, complacent, or even worse, stuck. That is when we mentally check out of our day-to-day responsibilities and begin to essentially fall into a routine. Passion for our profession is removed and monotony takes over.  We don’t realize we are experiencing this until we’ve been operating under it for some time. It’s as if one day we lift our heads out of the haze of going with the flow and notice that we are not present in our day-to-day tasks. That day feels like confusion, concern, and dread. Where has the passion gone and who is responsible for getting it back to the department’s everyday operations?

There is a certain amount of self-motivation and accountability that we are responsible for; however, we must find a way to make passion in the workplace an all-inclusive responsibility. We must democratize passion in order to provide a readily accessible flow to the starved areas among the department. Passion must be something that everyone in the department has access to and can also contribute to. Passion, a once-abstract concept, is a tangible motivator that can be available and contributed to by all technicians.

To democratize passion, we must find areas where we can inject the abstract concept into tangible goals and physical markers of success. One instance of this is when a technician helps another to create a better product or perform tasks. This technician is able to share their knowledge and passion to the other because there is a space made for it. Often, one doesn’t realize how a learning moment can be inspirational and embody a physical representation of passion. The growth and development of both technicians in this scenario is matured by the give and take of passion between the two of them: one with the passion to sharpen their skills and improve and the other with the passion to share their knowledge with another.

Another way we can democratize passion is to encourage ourselves to be present in all of our daily responsibilities. It is easy to check out when we fall into a routine at work. Leadership can help keep fellow technicians engaged in their work environment by being present in it. Passion should be the first thing noted in leadership. The rest of the team looks to leadership for inspiration and to gauge the overall mentality of the process. When leadership is present in the action, the team can keep the actions present. We discuss goals at the beginning of the shift and then lay out specific tasks that can cause that result. We must set our colleagues up for success. Now we all have the same physical markers to gauge our productivity upon and create self-accountability. This encourages passion because it affords us the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back and receive verbal accolades from leadership.

When we engage in our central sterile department, we engage in passion. A unified department is a great example of one that has passion pumping through it. Democratized passion teaches compromise and encourages patience. A single person cannot be responsible for all the passion in one department. A leader cannot be the only example of passion among their colleagues. Democratized passion removes the ability to reign supreme above one another because it builds cooperation. As we all align ourselves to the common goal, there is no room for egotism because we all have to get there together to achieve success. Every technician must have a hand in the bridge that moves us toward success. Democratizing passion ensures that everyone shows up because passion is now a value of justice, respect, and trust.

It is undeniable that when passion lacks among staff, leadership, or the department, progress cannot be made. Without an equal distribution and motivation of passion, the processes we do are lost and left stale. Passion for our profession is singly the most important contributor to patient safety. Passion pushes us to do what we believe to be best and act on our morals and ethics. Democratized passion speaks to a bigger picture. It can actively contribute to the compliance, productivity, and sincerity of all the technicians in a department. But most importantly, the overall well-being of the technicians is in focus. Our happiness and pride has a structured platform upon which we’re appreciated. With democratized passion, the department is indeed the hub of passion and the place where it can thrive to create new benefits to our industry and, in turn, the patients we serve.


Sarah B. Cruz is a certified sterile processing technician with a passion for the profession. Starting out as a veterinary assistant, she wanted to learn how to reprocess instruments in order to be more beneficial to the neurology team. She attended a CSS certification program through her local community college and it changed her life in so many ways. After leaving a profession she had for years, Sarah acquired her first job in central sterile processing. It couldn’t have been a better decision! Sarah’s professional ambition is to take her job in CSS and forge her career. The profession has opened numerous doors and opportunities for her that she feels compelled to inform everyone of their own ability to do so. Sarah is looking forward to relaying some of the goals, ambitions, and hurdles that CS technicians face in the trenches, while relaying compelling solutions that will promote patient safety and field growth.

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