News / Periop Café


June 16, 2021



Marisela Tapia-Morell, SPD Supervisor  

Marisela Tapia-Morell had been working at one facility for over 20 years when a consultant, impressed with her knowledge, suggested she consider being an interim. Wooed by the prospect of travel and sharing her professional experience with other organizations, she stepped into it and immediately fell in love.  


What is your priority on a new assignment? 

I like to find out what is going on in the department and talk to staff. I reassure them that I am not there to get them fired because that is the first thing on their minds. So, I like to make it clear that I’m here to make their SPD flow better and their jobs less stressful.  

What is the difference between an SPD manager and an SPD educator? 

There is some education when you’re managing staff, but the primary responsibility is managing the department. As an educator, you are side by side with staff showing the correct process the whole way. I love being an educator because you get to know people on a more one-on-one basis.  

 Who is the industry leader when it comes to sterile processing? 

AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) is our Bible.  

 What metrics illustrate a well-run SPD? 

If you have low IUSS (Immediate-Use Steam Sterilization) rates, that’s a good indicator your SPD is running well. At the start of the day, definitely have your first and second, but also third and fourth, case carts should be ready to go.  

 How can SPD support volume growth? 

Ensure that trays are accurate and have no errors that would force the OR to take out a similar tray. Constantly inspect instrument inventory and remove underutilized instruments to build addition sets, 

 Do you have any predictions for the future of sterile processing? 

I believe there will be many interim positions out there in the aftermath of COVID. Once COVID hit, we slowed down because the OR cases were limited to emergent/urgent cases. Now that COVID has slowed, there will be a lot more interim positions available because there is such a need for good managers and educators.  

 Do you have any advice for an SPD technician who gets promoted to a manager or director role? 

Listen to staff and hold yourself accountable. Most staff complaints come down to managers not listening to what they have to say. Praise your staff for jobs well done because it helps them take pride in what they do. It feels good to know that your manager or director is behind you. 

I also think it’s important to mentor staff into leadership positions. When I notice someone might make a good leader, I tell them not to stay in this role, to push themselves further.  

 What advice might you give a CNO that they should know about managing SPD?  

They should come into the department more often to see what’s going on. Oftentimes, they don’t know what SPD is all about and only know what they know by word of mouth. Once, I worked in a facility where the COO’s number one goal was to have her SPD department featured in one of those healthcare magazines. And they got it! She was adamant about it and the staff loved it because it felt like she wanted them to succeed. And she did.  

 Once a CNO is in SPD, what questions should they ask? 

Ask them, “How are you doing? How can I help you and your department strive better?” The staff will love to hear that because it opens the door to conversations where they can respond, “I’m doing okay, but we need this, or we need that.” They can sometimes be shy and not want to speak up to a C-Suite executive because they are intimidated.  


For Fun

In between interim jobs, where can we find you? 

Spend time with my family, especially my granddaughter. I only have one grandchild, so I like to spend a lot of time with her. She just turned 14. 

 Anything you always bring with you on an assignment? 

My coffee machine! It’s a Keurig. At hotels, they usually give you a little coffeepot and I hate to waste a whole pot of coffee when I can just make one. It’s much simpler. So, I take that and my pillow. 

 What do you do for stress relief while on assignment? 

I sightsee and explore. Find a good restaurant and have dinner.