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SPD Educator Spotlight Series Volume 2: The Golden Rule

08.23.2019 • Industry News

The Golden Rule is a principle that teaches us to 'treat others as you wish to be treated.' At some point in our lives we've been taught to apply this in many different scenarios whether it's with a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a partner, or even a stranger. The whole thought is to help promote social well-being in that kindness, generosity, grace, etc. is reciprocated. As a professional in the sterile processing industry, Tim Parsons draws parallels to this principle and how it's vital to think that same way with instrument reprocessing... as someday you may be the patient on which surgical instruments are used.

In the SPD Educator Spotlight Series: Vol. 2, Joe Kloetzke, CCSVP, of Key Surgical asks Tim Parsons, SPD Educator, CRCST, CIS, CHL at University of California San Francisco Healthcare about his passion and advocacy for patient safety and listens as Tim describes the unique concept that guides his team's patient-first mentality.

Q: Where did you gain experience before joining UCSF Health?
A: “I spent ten years as a Surgical Technologist, first based in the Midwest, then became a traveler for four years, and joined John Muir Health in Walnut Creek, CA in 2000. I became CPD Educator at John Muir in 2003, and was finally recruited to UCSF as SPD Educator in 2016 where I reside now.”

Q: How did you first become interested in Sterile Processing?
A: “After starting as a Surgical Technologist in 1993, I became a traveler in 1996. It didn’t take long for me to realize the importance of establishing a good relationship with the Sterile Processing Department as soon as I got to my new assignment. These were the people I depended on so I could do my job!”

Q: What was it like being a traveling SPD technician?
A: “Working as a traveling technician can be a great way to gain experience, connect with other Sterile Processing Professionals, and see the world! There’s so much to be learned at each facility; everyone has found a solution to a problem everyone else is dealing with. Traveling to various hospitals and learning from other healthcare professionals is a rewarding way to develop a network of talented colleagues you can call whenever you have questions down the road.

Q: Why is it important to be a dedicated advocate for patient safety?
A: “Working as a surgical technologist in major Trauma Centers, both in the Midwest and Northern California, I experienced firsthand what can happen when patient safety principles are not strictly adhered to. I have also been the patient and always teach “Process every instrument as if it is going to be used on you; one day it may very well may be!”

Q: What does a typical day look like for an Educator of a Sterile Processing Department?
A: "There’s really no “typical day,” but on any given day I may be performing any or all of these:
 -Direct Observation Competencies for each area of Sterile Processing
 -Providing training and in-services (including creating original content)
 -Onboarding and orientation of new team members (including Registry and Travelers)
 -Reviewing Standards to ensure compliance
 -Assisting team members with certification and renewals

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in this profession?
A: “Get a mentor, and chose them wisely. Study the people who have the passion, and always confirm what is right; never assume. Just because you learned it one way, that doesn’t mean what you learned is the correct way!”

Q: What sort of employee mentality is necessary to build a patient-first kind of culture?
A: “I teach a concept I learned in my years practicing martial arts: you can only ever do a thing ONE time; you only get ONE chance to get it right! Each time an instrument is processed or handled, its final destination is use on a patient in the operating room. You may think you can assemble a Major Tray a thousand times, but in truth it is only possible to assemble it once for each patient!”

Q: What are the biggest obstacles our industry can tackle to attract adequate attention for growth?
A: “One of my fondest dreams is for SPD Technicians to be recognized as true Health Care Professionals. This would include Nation-wide legislation requiring Certification for ALL Sterile Processing Professionals. I would also like to see the title changed to “Sterile Processing Technologist” to more accurately reflect the level of education required to keep up with the challenges in modern Health Care facilities.”

Q: What has been your favorite experience in your journey thus far?
A: “The best experience for me came when I realized that there are so many people in our profession who consider me a Mentor. I’ve been so very fortunate to have the most amazing Mentors, and I an extremely grateful for their kindness and attention.
At the IAHCSMM Conference in Phoenix Arizona in 2018, I actually made it a point to find and personally thank many of the people I consider to be my mentors. I shared with each and every one of them at least one specific “gift of guidance” they had given me over the years. That was an amazing experience!”

Key Surgical is dedicated to supporting CS/SP professionals in their work; we are proud to advocate for continuing education. Visit our Education page to earn IAHCSMM and CBSPD accredited CEs.