Operating Room Technician

Job description

Operating Room Technicians are responsible for the provision of an aseptic environment enabling the safe performance of operative procedures in both static (at home) and operational (deployed) environments. They are an integral member of the surgical team, providing perioperative care, post-operative care, assisting the surgeons and anesthesiologists and performing orthopaedic casting procedures in support of surgery.  OR Tech’s are also responsible for all Medical Device Reprocessing services, processing surgical materials and instruments.

An Operating Room Technician has the following primary duties:

  • Is responsible for providing a clean and safe environment for patient treatment and for assisting surgeons and anesthesiologists in all facets of the operative procedure
  • Is responsible for operationally maintaining all field OR equipment and for providing onsite training for OR Field operations as well as oversees the setup of a field OR
  • Is responsible to assist in the recovery of patients from anesthesia
  • Is responsible for decontamination, cleansing, maintenance and procurement of materials and instruments and for the packaging and sterilization of supplies
  • Operate and maintain medical and life-support equipment
  • Initiate, maintain and distribute medical records, documents, reports and returns
  • Maintain, replenish and account for general and medical supplies



Operating Room Technician

I’m Master Corporal Tyler Fagan from Halifax, Nova Scotia, an Operating Room Technician posted to 1 Field Ambulance in Edmonton, Alberta.

And I’m Sergeant Anita Easton from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, an Operating Room Technician currently serving at 1 Canadian Field Hospital in Petawawa, Ontario.

EASTON: Operating Room Technicians spend most of their time working in civilian operating rooms in local hospitals near the Canadian Armed Forces base they are posted to. They may work directly with military members or be fully integrated into the civilian environment. They will also have opportunities to deploy on international missions as part of the team that provides medical support to multinational coalition forces as well as civilians.

EASTON: We all look forward to deployments because that is the chance for us to really prove what we’ve been working hard towards.  That’s the final end state of why we do what we do.

FAGAN: Deployed, we’ll be responsible for everything from setting up all of our equipment, maintaining it and monitoring it, doing all the daily checks that we need to do. We kind of do it all.

FAGAN: As an Operating Room Technician, you’re providing direct assistance to anaesthesiologists and surgeons, and you’re required to be in high performance mode at all times.

EASTON: Here at home, we work with registered perioperative nurses, anaesthetists, surgeons of various specialties and critical care nurses to provide all types of surgical procedures to Forces members as well as to civilians.  

FAGAN: When we’re in garrison, we’ll typically be working sterilizing and re-processing our different surgical instruments and supplies, restocking, taking care of patients, running the clinics, doing different things around like that. We will jump in and help out with casting, we will do the dressing changes in the post-op care, we will help and be there for the patient’s very first visit, when they’re there for their consult. We’re there during the surgery and we’re also there post-operatively to check up and see how they’re doing when there comes the follow-up.

EASTON: As an Operating Room Technician, you’ll constantly face new challenges.  You might accompany a group of specialists and medical professionals to set up an operation room in a war-torn region of the world, or you might be working in a very busy surgical department of a major hospital assisting in very complex cases.

EASTON: What I like most about my job is the variety of things that we get to do. So every day, we can be doing something different.

FAGAN: Coolest part of the job has to be just getting in there, hands-on in the operating room and seeing all the different anatomy, and learning about the different specialties that you’re working with. There’s constantly stuff evolving in the operating room environment and in medicine in general. So we get to keep up with all that stuff and it never gets boring.

FAGAN: Once your training is completed, you’ll be posted to either Edmonton or Ottawa.  You’ll continue to maintain your skills as an Operating Room Technician in a civilian hospital as part of a civilian team, or working directly with a military Operating Room team.

FAGAN: So my very first day in the operating room, within 5 minutes, they had me scrub into my very first case, I was hands-on with the patient, and right away I got a chance to delve into the surgical world and see the inside of a human abdomen for the first time.

FAGAN: Operating Room Technicians in the Forces share all the same opportunities to maintain and improve their skills as their civilian counterparts such as orthopaedic specialty training, endoscopy assisting and various other specialties adding to an already impressive skill-set.

EASTON: My experience with the military and especially with this trade really does leave me with a sense of pride, not just in what I’ve done but in what my co-workers do.  It’s such a team-based trade, and you’re almost like family.

FAGAN: The uniform is very important to me. I grew up an avid – and still am – a huge hockey fan. I support Team Canada all the way, watching hockey. I was never good enough at hockey to make it that high so now I get to wear my Canada flag on my shoulder every day.  And that’s just as good for me.


Working environment

Operating Room Technicians spend most of their careers working directly in civilian hospitals in military OR teams or integrated with a civilian team within Canada, and deployed on international missions. They usually work a regular Monday to Friday schedule but may also work in shifts or on call depending on the circumstances.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully-trained Operating Room Technician is approximately $60,000 per year. Operating Room Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and specialist training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Registered Nursing Assistant
  • Licensed Practical Nurse with perioperative specialty
  • Medical Device Reprocessing Technician
  • Endoscopic Reprocessing Technician

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Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic occupational qualification training

The training consists of 4 modules. Module 1 is a 2 year Practical Nursing Diploma at an approved Canadian educational institution. Module 2 is an Operating Room Practical Nursing course either at Algonquin College (Ottawa) or Grant MacEwan University (Edmonton) for a duration of 6 to 8 months. Module 3 is an on the job training program (OJTP) in a Canadian health care facility which is comprised of 1500hrs, including hours completed during the preceptorship in Module 2 in the operating room and is divided as follows: 500hrs in orthopedic surgery, 500hrs in general surgery and 500hrs in other specialties. Module 4 consists of a field surgical services orientation.

Specialty training

Following the basic occupation training you will take a course in Medical Device Reprocessing (MDR).

Advanced training

The Advanced Education in Orthopedics for LPN’s course is offered when you progress in ranks and consists of advanced casting and orthopedic appliance application and maintenance.

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Entry plans

Direct entry

Applicants must hold a Practical Nursing diploma, have a current license to practice as LPN/RPN from a provincial or territorial regulatory authority, a letter of good standing from the applicant’s professional regulatory authority. It is an asset for applicants with a certification as an Operating Room Technician (LPN/RPN with peri-operative specialty).

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Air Force, Navy, Army.

Serve with the Reserve Force

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for Forces operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the Forces and the local community.

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

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