Oftentimes, program instructors will invite guest lecturers into the classroom to provide students with an outside perspective. These guests can range from operating room managers to human resources experts, and their visits serve as an opportunity for students to get face time with potential employers.

We spoke with three individuals who have given such presentations, particularly on the topic of preparing to transition into full-time work. Contributors included: Kristina Wehrle, OR educator at The Orthopedic Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Donna Biddle, HR representative at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and, Heather Garman, OR manager at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

What follows are a few key pieces of advice we gleaned from our conversations with them.

Employers are looking for team players. The OR is not a place for solo missions; it takes a team to ensure the safety of the patient. When sharing success stories with a potential employer, Donna Biddle suggests to use words like “we” instead of “I.” This shows the employer your sense of humility and genuine investment in the team as a whole.

Soft skills are key. While textbook learning teaches students the “why” behind the job, soft skills are an important part of the “how.” Students should remember to maintain eye contact when speaking to team members, and know how to read the room. When tense situations arise, it’s important to know when to be respectful and avoid unnecessary chatter. (For more tips on teaching students soft skills, read this article from ARC/STSA: “Soft Skills Need Sharpening?”) 

Gain as much work experience as possible prior to graduation. Heather Garman notes that oftentimes a student’s best work shines through when faced with a difficult situation. These types of situations won’t always occur in the classroom or during clinicals, so practical experience, such as part-time work or even volunteer work in the health care field, is key.

Embrace lifelong learning. Upon entering the workplace, Kristina Wehrle encourages students to continue reading, researching and getting involved in any way possible. The world of surgical technology is ever evolving. Staying invested in the field not only makes the job more enjoyable, but also serves as an excellent way to move ahead in one’s career.

For students preparing for full-time employment, the last few months of a program can be equally exciting and nerve inducing. With the right advice and support from instructors and program directors, however, they will be well on their way to a bright, rewarding career.

Have you invited guest lecturers to your classroom and want to share more about the value of the experience? Email Christy Baily-Byers, ARC/STSA director of education services, at Christy.BailyByers@arcstsa.net.