An O.B. technologist discovers travel work in a post-pandemic world

Spring is here and so is our next spotlight candidate! This month, we spoke with someone from our Allied Professional team who works as a Surgical O.B. Technologist. This individual has been a surgical technologist since 2018 and has been with KPG Healthcare since 2021.

Without further ado, allow us to introduce Michele!

Let’s meet Michele!

Michele is a surgical technologist who specializes in obstetrician (O.B.) and is currently on assignment in Riverside County, California. Before she was a surgical O.B.  technologist, Michele worked as a medical assistant until she went back to school to get her degree.

She attended the Glendale Career College in Glendale, California, which had a 16-month program to receive a surgical technologist license. The program included one year of schooling and finished with six months of clinical work. “It was a tough program,” Michele said, “but if you study hard for tests and have a study group system, you can do it.” She recalled it being the best 16 months she ever did.

Michele officially became a surgical technologist in 2018 and luckily for her, the facility she worked at as a medical assistant allowed her to train in-house. What pushed her to get her license was breaking her foot, but it was more than that.

Michele is pictures wearing scrubs
Michele is seen wearing the proper PPE during her regular shifts.

Michele always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field when she was young. Her mom got pregnant with her during her time in nursing school. Unfortunately, Michele’s mom never finished her nursing degree being a single mother, but Michele is hopeful her mom will one day. While Michele was young, she would take care of her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease.

Taking care of her grandmother translates to the patient care Michele practices daily. As a child, Michele would observe how nurses or other hospital staff would aid her grandmother in the hospital. Observing taught her how hospitals functioned and what she needed to do at home to assist her grandmother.

Through the years, Michele realized that she wanted to be something in the medical field where she could help people. This ideology led her to become a medical assistant and then a surgical O.B. technologist.

As a surgical technologist, more specifically O.B., her responsibilities primarily reside in assisting in delivering babies, both C-section and vaginal, and preparing delivery rooms. “There is a lot of T.L.C. (tender, love, and care) as an O.B. technologist,” says Michele, “listening, being calm and some moms try to do labor without any help so a lot of [the role] is T.L.C.”

Michele is seen in the operating room assisting in a childbirth.
Michele is assisting in her duties as a surgical O.B. technologist.

According to Michele, Riverside is known for having C-sections with close to three to four a day, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic. Michele can deliver up to 10 babies a day during a 12-hour shift. Although the thought of uniting a mother and newborn can be fulfilling, there are situations where that isn’t the case.

There are situations where you have a fetal loss or a stillbirth, which can be difficult for all parties in the delivery room. A fetal loss is when a baby dies while still in the womb and stillbirth is the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy. “Some days are good, and some are bad,” as Michele put it.

Even though losing a child before, during, or after labor is a difficult situation to be in, there are other challenges Michele faces as an O.B. technologist. As a nightshift O.B. technologist, there is a lack of resources available compared to dayshifts. Labs may not be open, or they may not have carriers to bring to the lab, which takes time away from patient care. “The nightshift staff may have to do more work without certain access to people,” Michele explained.

Additionally, there is the issue with the lack of respect and understanding of what other healthcare professionals do besides nurses and doctors. Nurses have a lot of duties and perform tasks other professionals do not, but does that justify the lack thereof for those other professionals?

“It’s not just the nursing staff. The doctors and nursing staff will not know where anything is without us,” states Michele. Every position relies on one another to succeed, and each should receive the same recognition for its efforts. It’s not one versus the other – it is a team effort. Michele gave this analogy, “the nurse is for the mom, NICU for the baby, and us for everyone.”

The lack of respect is a larger issue that stretches beyond Riverside County, alongside the lack of resources and personnel. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the cracks within the healthcare system and those effects ripple throughout a facility. Daily responsibilities can become more challenging when short-staffed or they lack access to life-saving procedures.

For Michele, overcoming challenges brought by the pandemic hasn’t been easy, but she is adapting. Michele says she comes in, immediately plans for the hospital staff and makes sure the delivery team has all the supplies needed in their “vaginal carts.” Staying ahead and planning for any situation has helped Michele navigate this post-pandemic environment.

The healthcare industry is constantly changing and adapting. The pandemic is one example of many that show how personnel must adapt to the environment, good or bad. “I feel like I learn every day from every experience,” Michele said. There is always something that will add to your plate of experience that could help you or the team in the next day, week or year.

Everything she has learned thus far has been through life, especially with patient care. Her grandmother helped raise her and taught her to always be prepared. From taking care of her grandmother to being a single mom at 30, are lessons Michele will carry for the rest of her life. This perspective has shaped Michele’s life for the better.

 

“Tomorrow is another day; everything will be fine in the end.”
– Michele

 

With Michele’s perspective and experience with the pandemic, she decided to pursue becoming a travel O.B. technologist. Like many new travel healthcare professionals, Michele wasn’t aware you could be a “travel” tech even though you aren’t physically traveling state lines. She decided to travel with KPG Healthcare and within the first week and a half, she signed up for an assignment. “Everything was so easy, and it happened so fast!” Michele exclaimed.

Becoming a travel tech has been a positive decision for Michele because it allows her to be with her fiancé and son while working the night shift. She owes it to her fiancé and son for not wanting to pack her things and leave after everything that’s happened these recent years. It’s the small things that count and for Michele, that means having dinner ready for her when she gets home, a clean home and a safe space for her to decompress. “Being present more with my family has helped a lot.”

Michele and her family pose for a picture
Michele, right, her finance, left, and her son, bottom left, pose for a family picture.

Her path to KPG Healthcare has been a smooth one thus far and her recruiter, Joseph, has been crucial to that. “Everyone has been great, nice and pleasant across the board. It has been such an easy process as a whole,” Michele said. She mentioned she was nervous about traveling not knowing how the process works, taxes and the word “travel” itself. She’s already extended her current contract and has been loving the weekly payouts.

Michele, from all of us here at KPG Healthcare, we wish you and your family nothing but the best now and in the future. Your two decades of service to the healthcare industry and love for your family are remarkable. KPG Healthcare recognizes and appreciates the work you do for your community, thank you. Keep up the fantastic work and “have a margarita!”

Michele’s advice for those interested in pursuing a career as a Surgical Technologist?

  1. It’s the best of all healthcare professions. The best thing about a surgical technologist is you do the surgeries, you pick the specialty, work in all the specialties, pick one and just do your job. No paperwork. Your focus is your specialty.
  2. The amazing aspect of it as a traveler, you get to go in, do your job, spread some sunshine around, and either stay or move on to the next assignments.
  3. Surgical technologists have come a long way in pay and are doing more than just surgeries.

Want to be part of our Allied Professional team? Click the link to check out their job board or you can email your resumes to allied@kpghealthcare.com to get connected with one of our recruiters today! Click this link to find out more about our Allied Team!

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