The most exciting part of central sterile professional development is when we, as technicians, begin to stretch our department legs. Onboarding and the intensive learning period are in the past, taking our shyness and awkwardness with it. Our technician voices are slightly less shaky as we start to share ideas with our co-workers and leadership. We begin to see our suggestions contribute to process improvements, practices, and the overall team dynamic. We realize that we are not just a cog in the wheel of some healthcare machine; we are the very hum that is central sterile services.
Central sterile technicians find our voices when we are actively engaged in our work. We may share the same thoughts and comments as our co-workers, or we may disagree. That’s when we notice that all the different CS tech voices have one thing in common: opinions. Some opinions are strong, some are personal, and some even preconceived. Regardless of how we interpret the variety of opinions, technicians must understand that we formulate our opinions through the same process. Our opinions are our personal interpretation of a situation. The external factors may vary, but all of our opinions stem from how we view ourselves in the situation. Now, opinions present themselves in a multitude of ways: assertive, humble, unanimous. When we express our opinions, we also show a significant characteristic: authenticity.
When CS technicians achieve authenticity, we find the truest and most earnest form of ourselves. This is absolutely vital to the overall growth of our department and our careers. Personal authenticity in the department means that we are more receptive to learning, unlearning, and relearning skills and tactics that further develop us. The work days, though never less busy, are a better overall experience. When we are our truest selves, we stay more engaged at work because we feel fulfilled and satisfied in our application. We might actually start to feel inspired by it! When we show up to work, we quite literally show up. Because of this authenticity, we are more present in our work and have a sense of pride in our product’s quality. Anyone can attest to the fact that pride in quality will lead to a greater quantity. That in itself is self-perpetuating. Now we can track the tangibility in our quality by our overall work productivity. This, too, contributes to our pride. Authenticity is no longer just a good feeling; it is a quantifiable tool for our success!
Authenticity is the act of self-perceived genuineness. It is so easy for us to rest on the laurels of our self-perception. How can we be certain that our genuineness is really adding to our growth if we don’t reassess it? The phrase, “Well, that’s just me” is our biggest scapegoat when the need for change is inevitable. It is the last stance of our self-preservation. If we speak these words, it is because we know our perceived genuineness may no longer be in touch with our authenticity. Talk about a progress stopper! The last step to professional development is so close. Authenticity and self-perception are almost aligned. “Well, that’s just me” can’t be what stops us. This is when leadership helps guide CS technicians through the self-ownership process.
Self-ownership is what takes technicians (seasoned or new) to the next step in professional development. It evaluates what limits and challenges our authenticity. Leadership can help nudge technicians to realize that it is our own thought process that limits us. Leadership can push technicians out of our thought conformity and comfort with a few self-recognition questions. Ask us how we want to show up in our career. How does this version of ourselves lead us to that vision? What limits us from reaching that potential? These questions may feel more like a shove toward self-ownership rather than a nudge. The longer we go without reassessment, the more difficult it will be to process these questions. Leadership can help us, but we are the only ones that create the demand in ourselves to change. One that serves our career, not limits it. Only we can make ourselves grasp how important genuine authenticity is.
Now that we CS technicians have this key skill, we can be truly, unapologetically authentic. We can form and reform our opinions on the basis of process and professional improvements. Most people understand “unapologetically” to mean that this is how it is and they aren’t sorry for it. To be truly, unapologetically authentic, however, means we must constantly reevaluate what is important to us. We must challenge our perceived genuineness and thought process. The ability to unlearn and relearn our opinions through self-ownership and then completely change our actions with self-assessment makes that possible. We must constantly challenge our thought process to recognize self-limiting beliefs. This is the only way to discover hindering views and stances that were “just us.” That is a skill no one should ever have to apologize for. The ability to understand why we can’t stay the same technician if we want to develop professionally is exceptional.
Our professional voice in central sterile services has its own tone, delivery, and volume. When our voice resonates with our profession, the possibilities are endless. Self-assessment and clarity is how we tune them. A job title is just what someone does. To become who we are in our career, CS technicians must push out of comfortability. We must challenge our thoughts and actions that take away from our professional development. We sharpen our authenticity and become unapologetically dedicated to investing in ourselves. We can finally open our eyes to the CSS career that awaits us, unapologetically authentic in our pursuit of patient safety.
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.
Sign up to read Sarah B. Cruz’s features in NewSplash!NewSplash is a free weekly digital newsletter dedicated to providing useful information to CS and IP professionals who strive to keep patient safety high.