A surgical technologist is a highly trained healthcare worker that is certified by The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Certified surgical techs are employed by hospitals for the operating rooms. They may also work in some preoperative settings, outpatient surgical centers, maternity delivery rooms and some doctor’s offices. These healthcare professionals work under the supervision of doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, certified nurse anesthetists (CRNA), operating room nurses and other personnel. They assist surgeons with surgical procedures. They maintain sterility, pass instruments, keep track of equipment, mix surgical solutions and more. These important techs prep patients before surgery, help position patients, transport patients, prepare the room, clean up the room and instruments, sterilize equipment and supplies and other duties as allowed.
How to Become One
Most technicians start with a background in healthcare. Some are CNAs. There are educational programs at community colleges or vocational schools. These individuals must take classes in human anatomy, surgical procedures, medical and professional ethics, operating room procedures, training, sterile technique, microbiology, medical terminology and on job site clinical skills training. This job field is expected to grow at least 15% in the next coming years. Learn more about how to become a surgical tech.
It is necessary to take and pass the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting exam. There are surgical tech certification requirements to keep this designation. Some states allow certified technologists to close skin incisions under doctor supervision if they have additional special suturing and closing techniques training.
How Long Does it Take to Become One?
Most programs run approximately 18 months. Some programs offer an A.D. and require around 2 years. On the job training is generally required as well.
How Much Does They Make?
The typical salary was approximately $44,000 and up for the median range. The salary rates differ depending on the state or other geographical regions. the surgical tech salary range was documented last in 2015, and today’s rates are typically a bit higher.
Surgical tech jobs vary with hospital hiring policy and location. Some geographical regions hire more technologists than nurses. Others hire a few. With more ambulatory and surgery centers popping up around the country, it is expected that the future jobs outlook will be bright. This is an exciting job that requires continuous on-the-job learning. Surgical procedure techniques and surgical instruments change very rapidly in this fast-paced area of healthcare. Some hospitals have benefit programs that assist employees to continue their education. Some may even become surgical nurses.
There are newer online programs where the theory portion of the necessary education will be taught. These programs do vary from state to state. Like other healthcare positions, many surgical tech schools are providing flexible classes and scheduling. They wish to draw more people into this fulfilling field. Those that enroll in online programs will need hands-on training skills. It is critical to master the instrumentation and precise movements with surgical techniques. There is no room for error in this field, and programs, online or on-site all provide extensive skill times to ensure student proficiency. Those interested in surgical tech programs online or through an A.D. college should research all options for further information.
Now is an excellent time to enter the healthcare fields. Schools are offering a myriad of study programs, hands-on skills, and career preparation.
What Do They Do?
What does a surgical tech do? They play an important role in the operating room. Only through completing a training program and obtaining certification can this individual perform the many important duties that are part of his or her day.
A surgical technician has many duties. If you’ve ever watched a medical show on television where a surgeon was operating and said “scalpel”, the surgeon was most likely speaking to a technician. However, handing surgical instruments to the surgeon is only one of many things the surgical technologist does in the course of a workday. Below are some of what a surgery tech does.
- They prepare the surgical setting for the procedure.
- They stock the surgery room with necessary supplies.
- They sterilize surgical equipment.
- The count instruments, sponges, and miscellaneous supplies.
- They ensure the surgical environment is sterile.
- They assist surgeons during procedures by handing them instruments and supplies.
- They get the patient ready for surgery by washing and sterilizing incision sites.
Surgical technologists work alongside surgeons, registered nurses and related medical personnel. The technician is responsible for getting the patients to the operating room and returning them back to their room after the surgery. Prior to the surgery, the surgical not only washes the patient but also positions him or her on the table and ensures he or she is covered with sterile material.
Surgical technologists prepare any medications and sterile solutions that may be needed during surgery. They also ensure that the surgery equipment is functioning correctly. In addition, they help the surgeon and surgical staff put on their gowns and gloves.
During the actual surgery, the surgery technician hands instruments and surgical supplies to the surgeon and the first assistants. They also assist in holding internal organs in place during the surgery, hold retractors and set up robotic surgery equipment. Surgical technologists may apply dressings and bandages to the surgical site.
If laboratory analysis is necessary, the surgical technologist may take specimens to the lab. After the surgery is over, the technician restocks the operating room with supplies and transfers the patient to the recovery room.
Aspiring surgical technologists must complete a training program at an accredited school. In most cases, this means the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) should accredit the school. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were about 500 CAAHEP-accredited surgical tech schools as of 2016.
Surgical technologist schools generally offer two-year associate degree or four-year bachelor degree surgical technology program. Graduates of bachelor degree programs may be referred to as technologists while technicians complete the associate degree programs. Currently, most states just refer to these medical professionals as surgical techs.
Surgical tech schools teach students through a blended curriculum of classroom courses, laboratory studies, and clinical experiences. They receive their hands-on training through internships. The clinical experiences are a vital part of these programs and required by most schools.
Distance Learning Schools
Aspiring technicians also have the option of earning their degrees through an online school. However, because surgery is such as hands-on field, the programs are unable to be 100% online but rather hybrid programs. Hybrid programs allow the student to complete part of the training at school and other parts online.
In the case of hybrid programs, the student completes the lab work and internships at school or at a medical facility and completes the coursework online. The most common online surgical tech programs are bachelor degree programs where the student is already working in this field and trying to advance his or her education. Most of the clinical requirements were met while pursuing the associate degree.
Today distance learning offers so many learning tools such as streaming videos and audios, online lectures, podcasts, message boards, which allows distance learning to be as good as attending an actual on-campus school.