Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Surgical Technologist William Shion
Sep 20, 2021 Rosanna Turner
In the operating room, surgical technologists play a crucial and valuable role during surgery.
In honor of National Surgical Technologists Week, we talked to William Shion, who works as a surgical technologist and cardiac pleditor at Cedars-Sinai.
"I feel like I'm part of the most important team that this patient has at this moment in their lives. Working together, we can save this patient's life."
Where did you grow up?
William Shion: I was born and raised in Nicaragua. Growing up in Nicaragua, it was just me and my mom. My mom often had to protect me from gang members. She signed me up for Tae Kwon Do so that I could learn how to protect myself.
At the time, my dad was living in the U.S. with my brother. My dad was able to petition for me to come to the U.S., so I moved to Los Angeles when I was 16.
What made you decide to become a surgical technologist?
WS: After graduating from high school, I saw a commercial on TV about enrolling in a surgical tech program, which caught my interest. I went to school to become a surgical tech, and the next thing you know, I'm hired at Cedars-Sinai. I've worked here for 18 years.
When you were studying and training to become a surgical tech, did you think about working at Cedars-Sinai?
WS: To be honest, I wasn't that familiar with Cedars-Sinai before I came to work here. I went to high school in Glendale and didn't know much about other parts of Los Angeles.
When I got the opportunity to train here, I asked my recruiter how far Cedars-Sinai was from my school. I drove a 1986 Nissan Pulsar, one of those cars that will "talk" to you when you turn it off. Even when you turn the car off, it's still going or coughing up something.
My car would heat up so badly that when I was driving, I would have to take breaks on the road until the car cooled down. Then I was able to drive the car again.
During my entire surgical tech rotation, I had to get up super early just to accommodate more time for my car. My car breaking down on the road added at least another 30 to 40 minutes to my trip each way.
Wow. Sounds like getting to Cedars-Sinai was a journey in more ways than one. What is it like being a surgical tech?
WS: Being a surgical tech can be very exciting at times, especially being on the cardiac team. During cardiac surgery, there's something happening every moment of the operation. When things are going south, I get this adrenaline rush and start preparing in my head for everything I should be doing. It all happens in a split second.
When I teach my orientees, I always tell them, "If you ever encounter a time when you are standing still and not doing anything, you're doing something wrong. During a cardiac surgery, there's always something you should be doing."
You have to develop that sense of being prepared five to 10 steps ahead at all times.
What is it like being in the operating room during a cardiac surgery?
WS: I feel like I'm part of the most important team that this patient has at this moment in their lives. Working together, we can save this patient's life. During surgery, the patient is relying on us 100%.
What I like about working with my team is that we are so synchronized, it's almost like we're a symphony. Everyone plays their part and knows exactly what they do. Before one of the surgeons mention something, we already know what's coming up next.
After surgery, it's gratifying to hear from the patient and their family members when they tell me that they are doing better.