38,000+ members strong and growing. That's the combined membership of many of the largest Sterile Processing groups on Facebook today (examples here and here). By all accounts most of the pages are daily bustling with questions, photos, encouragements, and yes -- a little commiserating now and then. Unlike the business-oriented pages of Linkedin, after just a little time spent on the Facebook pages and comments in these Sterile Processing groups, you are quickly confronted with the reality of our industry -- the nitty gritty, supportive, challenging, excited, burned-out, travelers, long-termers, leaders, and interested onlookers. You see and hear the real questions that are confronting the often invisible sterilization soldiers hidden in hospital basements and back hallways. In short, you skip the formalities and are invited deep into departments across the country for a look around. The question is, what do you see?
1) SPD Facebook Gives us Community
One of the clearest things you see on SPD Facebook groups is the tremendous hunger and appreciation for community in this profession. We love being in a place and being with people who "get us." Even if that place is only accessible through a desktop or smart phone, we don't mind -- as long as when we say, "It was another long day in decontam," everyone else actually knows what we mean. These are folks who know what sweat looks like from the inside of a PPE face shield, and how it feels to cut your finger on a sterilization tape dispenser. These are the other brave souls who have found out the hard way that instruments coming out of washers can burn you just as easily as ones coming out of the autoclave. They are comrades who have accidentally wrapped their name badges in a tray or "sterilized" a load sticker gun. These are our people, who speak our language, and even eat the same mediocre hospital food we eat every day, whether they are across the country or across the street.