<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5295618&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">


June 27, 2013

Create Effective Education Programs for Sterile Processing Departments

With changing and new technologies in the increasingly high-tech world of Sterile Processing, facilities need to support ongoing education to maintain highly skilled technicians.  Continued learning will also keep technicians updated with regulations, procedures, and standards within the industry.  While certification is a great start, ensuring your technicians are knowledgeable and up-to-date with industry changes means having an effective education plan in place, designed to address staff's needs, promote learning for all staff, and provide-on-the job opportunities to practice processes learned.

Sterile Processing technicians are expected to be proficient in several areas such as:

  • Instrument Inspection
  • Decontamination
  • Steam Sterilization
  • Gas Plasma Sterilization
  • Instrument Tracking
  • Rigid Scope Reprocessing
  • Proper Wrap Techniques
  • Case Cart Assembly
  • Biological Record Keeping
  • Laparoscopic Instruments
  • Manual Cleaning
  • Flex Scope Reprocessing
  • Peel Pouches
  • OR Soft Goods
  • Robotic Instrumentation
  • Reprocessing Drill & Saws
  • Immediate Use Sterilization
  • Immediate Use Sterilization
  • Care and Handling of Instrumentation

To appropriately manage such an array of responsibilities and an ever-evolving field, here are three central tips to keep in mind:

1. Be Proactive by Using an Employee Assessment
 Many leaders plan lessons when problems are reported or arise in the department.  Although this method seems plausible when wanting to tackle current issues, it is reactive and often jeopardizes patient care.  A more proactive method of planning education should begin with an employee assessment.  Once conducted, the assessment will show the big picture of the staff's knowledge and development opportunities, and leaders can begin to prioritize the staff's educational needs and plan accordingly.

2. Promote Learning on All Shifts
 An effective education program should promote learning for all staff regardless of shift or days worked.  If not, your department could result in all knowledgeable staff being assigned during the shift when learning occurs (which is typically the day shift).  To ensure everyone is included, utilize mandatory attendance or alternative methods to obtain information.  Some methods may include:

  • Staff meetings
  • CSS-specific magazine articles with testing
  • Departmental in-services
  • OR in-services
  • CSS seminars
  • CSS-specific online learning
  • Vendor in-services

 Magazine articles and online learning are often followed up with test questions, and these are great tools to supplement education and solidify understanding.  Testing and/or discussions should also follow
 in-services.  An effective education program will always test or review with participants to ensure they have learned and retained the information. 

3. Facilitate Practice, Practice, and More Practice
 Finally, practice is a very important part of learning, and unfortunately, this critical step is usually left out.  This lack of practice usually leads to confused staff, who ask several questions when trying to work independently.  Practice does help staff to retain information, thus, it helps build confidence when working alone.

For more information, read the full article on Executive Insight 

Want to Receive Our Newsletters by Email?

Featured Resource:


Managing Bottlenecks to Increase Perioperative Efficiency