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I’m Out: 7 Reasons to Quit Your Sterile Processing Job
You know what? Sometimes quitters do win.

If you are reading this article, chances are good you’ve already quit a job or two in your life. Why did you do it? What did you learn about yourself and the kind of employer you want to work for? These kinds of decisions are huge learning experiences for any adult, and the world of sterile processing is no different. That being said, have you ever read an article about why you should quit your sterile processing job in particular? As a sterile processing technician, manager, and director, I’ve had the distinct opportunity to quit a couple of times in my career (all for good reasons), and was on the receiving end of a few letters of resignation myself (some for good reasons, many not so good). Based on these experiences and observations from many more, here are seven reasons you should consider quitting your sterile processing job.

1. No opportunity for growth
If you want to grow your career through a career ladder, pay raises, or new experiences in sterile processing, but you’re hitting a dead end in your department, why waste time hanging around? There is something to be said for waiting your turn and doing your time, but there is a difference in waiting and wasting. As soon as it becomes obvious that growth is not going to happen for you where you are, it’s time to start dusting off your resume.

2. Impacting your mental health
You have one life. And many of us have one profession. Why would we want to spend it in situations that drive us bonkers? If your current sterile processing role is causing you unreasonable amounts of stress, burnout, or depression, don’t be afraid to hit the eject button. Industries like ours can chew people up and spit them back out, without a lot of concern for the person underneath the scrubs. Ultimately, you are the only one who always has your best interest at heart, especially when it comes to mental health. If you have to quit to save your sanity, don’t make apologies for it.

3. Can’t pay the bills
Compensation in our industry in certain areas of the country is notoriously low. Many of our technicians and even department leaders struggle to make ends meet with standard pay rates. If this is you, and you’re being forced to make a decision between sticking it out in SPD or keeping food on the table for your kids, you don’t need permission to choose family and finances first. We are seeing more and more leaders step up and advocate for increases for their teams, but those impacted by tight financials shouldn’t feel like they have to martyr themselves for the cause. Go where you must to keep the bank account in black, and let the chips fall where they may.

4. Unresolved safety concerns
The federal government, through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), requires all employers to provide a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to its employees. Even though this is a federal requirement, many sterile processing departments can still fall short of this standard in many ways, whether it is access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), real-time monitoring of dangerous disinfectants and sterilants, or proper sharps exposure prevention protocols. If you have raised SPD safety concerns at your facility and continue to be ignored or rejected, you have every right to keep yourself safe and turn in your notice.

5. Not valuing your contributions or expertise
You take your job seriously and have pursued education and credentials to set yourself apart as a subject matter expert in the industry, but your facility still treats you like your opinion doesn’t matter and you don’t know what you’re talking about. This isn’t anything new for our teams, but it still doesn’t make it any easier. Some folks can only take so much of this belittling and demeaning behavior before turning in their badge and heading for the door. There are hospitals and departments out there that will give you the value and respect you deserve. Don’t feel bad for going out and looking for them.

6. Patients are in harm’s way
The heart of our sterile processing profession is patient safety. Every step we take in our reprocessing workflow is pointed to that outcome; however, there are situations that occur in our departments which can dramatically undermine the safety of patients under our care. If you are in a facility that refuses to give you the tools, training, or support you need to ensure your team doesn’t have to take a shortcut in the reprocessing workflow, it may be time to vote with your feet and walk away with a clear conscience. It may be worth staying and fighting, but your decision to quit may also be the wake-up call administrators need to stop compromising their mission of safe patient care.

7. That opportunity too good to be true
Big breaks happen. Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right résumé and huge opportunities can open up for you. Obviously, if you see that perfect job title, with the schedule of your dreams, and a healthy pay bump, I don’t need to tell you what to do. Thank your current boss for their support, ask for a recommendation, and go get that dream job you’ve waited for! Don’t forget to leave on good terms, in the right way, so if or when you ever have to come back, you didn’t leave a smoldering bridge of hot ash in your wake.

Quitting has some inherently negative connotations. But as you’ve seen above, there are actually lots of good reasons to peace out of your current sterile processing role and move on to something bigger and better for you and your future. Whether it’s you or a co-worker who is doing the leaving, make sure it’s for the right reasons and done the right way, and you can hold your head up high as you step out into a world of sterile processing opportunity.

Good luck, quitters!


Feature articles exclusively for Ultra Clean Systems by Weston “Hank” Balch, BS, MDiv, CRCST, CER, CIS, CHL

Weapon of Mass Microbial Destruction * Professional Clean Freak * Podcast Host * Safety Addict * CS/SPD Consultant

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