Behind the Scenes Support Team

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Thanks to shows like House and E.R., we are familiar with the atmosphere unwelcoming to mistakes faced by operating room (OR) doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists. But we seldom consider, if at all, another scrubs-wearing component of the operating team responsible for providing a surgeon with the right surgical equipment at the right time, and training the surgical team on new medical devices. In the stressful environment of the OR, Medical Device Representatives like Manny Molina and John Canales make sure everything runs smoothly. “When a device rep steps into an OR, it’s vital that you know everybody’s role. You’re almost behind the scenes quarterbacking,” says Canales.  “You give the physician things he needs to provide prior to him walking into the ER.”

Molina and Canales are both device reps for Medtronic, the nation’s largest medical device company. It has been Medtronic’s mission to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life for six decades. Medtronic offers countless medical device services including aortic stent grafts, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) devices, and neuromodulation devices, which Molina and Canales specialize in.

A device rep’s job is multifaceted. Based on the doctor’s recommendations and patient’s needs, Medtronic device reps check for compatibility with their products and provide necessary training for physicians. Considering doctors’ busy schedules, device reps fill in when patients have questions about surgeries. “The doctor only has so much time to spend with each patient; they have thirty or forty patients,” says Molina.  “That’s where John and I come in, going over brochures, videos, and answering questions with the family.” The ER often factors into their work day, with the reps providing the device and ensuring their functionality.  “We are in all the cases, which is why we wear scrubs. We work with the hospital,” says Molina. “We’re part of the team.”

Outside of surgery, the device reps at Medtronic spend a good deal of  time informing hospitals and private practices about their products and services.  “It’s all about a better quality of life for patients,” said Molina. Medtronic is unique from other medical device companies in that following consultations and operations, they are available to provide support for life after surgery. Canales wants to combat the stigma he sees in the Valley, whereby patients don’t know that these procedures are available in our area. “You don’t have to travel to Houston or Dallas,” he says. “We have qualified, trained physicians here who are able to do that for you.”

Canales, who has been with Medtronic for ten years, says the humbling part of his job is getting to experience it through the patient’s eyes. He shared that he often remembers one of his first cases, a young lady named Kayla. “She had a spirit unlike any other. It’s the will of the human spirit,” he says. Canales sees her once every few years to change a medical pump in her stomach, and he says she is now in college and wants to become a nurse. “We get to see the beginning and the end. When you have a patient like this, who has a result that is life-changing, it’s cataclysmic in the way that everything else changes,”  he reflects. “The rest of their life, their perspective on things change…to be able to see that is an honor. It really is an honor.”

The life-changing effects of DBS surgery were highlighted in  RGVision Magazine’s January/February article, which can be read online at rgvisionmagazine.com.