BLS Featured CMLSO: Richard A. Gama
Tell us about yourself
My name is Richard A. Gama and I am a certified medical laser safety officer and certified surgical technologist with over 32 years of professional operating room experience. I have been involved with thousands of surgical procedures of all kinds in many states around the country and have always been professionally dedicated to the concept of “Aeger Primo”- The Patient First!
I have attended many laser safety officer training courses over the years from the Beckman Laser Institute, LIA, and ASLMS. I have also attended nearly two-hundred manufacturer sponsored laser training courses. My initial education began at Moorpark College with an Associate level of study in science and business. I then entered the accredited Simi Valley School of Surgical Technology, earned a Surgical Technology Diploma in 1983, and became nationally certified.
I currently work for Universal Hospital Services, Inc. (UHS) in the Surgical Services division of the company and serve as the Director of Clinical Services and Training. UHS is a leading national provider of health care technology management and service solutions to the health care industry.
When did you start working with lasers?
I began working with lasers as a Surgical Technologist in the early Eighties. I became a dedicated health care laser system operator in 1988 and have been working with many kinds of laser systems for all kinds of medical and surgical procedures ever since.
Like many people, I was asked (voluntold) to become the LSO for company because of my operating room and already extensive laser experience after three years on the job. I attended my first Laser Institute of America LSO training course in 1991 and immediately began to setup our laser safety program and policies for the company in accordance with the excellent training that I was provided.
Do you like being the LSO?
I love being the MLSO for our company because it gives me the opportunity to utilize all of my laser training, skills and experiences to create a high-level and compliant laser safety program for the betterment of workplace and patient safety and treatment outcomes. It is very rewarding to know that I can have a positive impact within our company and the laser health care industry as a result of my LSO activities.
What are the challenges of LSOs today?
The challenges for LSOs include keeping up on the ever changing and advancing laser technology, the training and education of health care personnel to today’s standards, and dispelling the myths of the past when it comes to safety and laser program compliance. Having the right information and rationale is the key to gaining buy-in from the staff and changing cultures to get on the right track.
Has becoming certified benefited you in your career?
I became a certified as a medical laser safety officer in 2005 and was one of the first hundred people to do so at that time, of which I am very proud. Becoming certified is no easy task but it has definitely added value and credibility to my position and career as it is one of the highest credentials that you can have in the field. Being certified is a validation of your skills and expertise, which compels you to adhere to the highest standards of safety and professional practice. Having a CMLSO on staff is a demonstration of the employer’s dedication to worker and patient safety and high-level standards compliance.