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Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists, also called surgical technicians, operating room technicians, or scrubs, are members of operating room teams, assisting and working under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, anesthesiologists, and other surgical workers.

Become a Surgical Technologist

Surgical Technologist Resources...

Surgical Technologist Job Description

The surgical technologist’s role is an important part of the surgical team before, during, and after surgery. Before an operation, they set up an operating room by getting the surgical instruments, equipment, surgical draping, and sterile solutions ready. They prepare the patient, transport them to the operating room, and help them onto the operating table. Once there, they check their vital signs, cover them with sterile surgical drapes, and help the operating team put on sterile gloves and gowns. During the operation, they may assist the surgeons by handing them instruments, holding retractors, cutting sutures, or possibly operating lights, suction machines, or other diagnostic equipment. Finally, after an operation, the surgical technician moves the patient to the recovery room, and sees that the OR is restocked and cleaned so that it is prepped for the next surgery. Most surgical technologists work in hospitals, although they can also work in outpatient surgical centers and physicians’ offices.

Surgical Technologist Training

Surgical technologist training programs are offered in vocational schools, junior colleges, hospitals, and four-year colleges and universities. They generally require one to two years of study and result in an associate degree. Most programs require only a high school degree, but be sure you have taken adequate courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics in high school before applying. Coursework in these programs will cover anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, ethics, physiology, and medical terminology. In addition to classroom study, you will have to obtain clinical experience as well, where you will learn procedures like sterilizing instruments, handling special solutions, supplies, equipment, and controlling infection.

Surgical Technologist Certification

Certification for this job is voluntary, but is highly recommended. Becoming a certified surgical technologist (CST) will demonstrate commitment to your job and let employers know that you possess the necessary knowledge and clinical skills. Certification is offered through the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist, which is part of the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). In order to take this certification exam, you must also graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP ) or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). In order to maintain this certification, you will have to complete 60 hours of continuing education every four years, or retake the certification exam every four years. Certification is also offered through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), which requires graduating from an accredited program, or having seven years of related work experience. This certification must be renewed every five years.

Surgical Technologist Salary & Job Outlook

There were roughly 91,000 surgical technicians working in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The job is projected to grow 25%, which is faster than the average occupation, like many growing healthcare jobs. Advances in medical technology have contributed to this in part, because new surgical procedures are being used. Additionally, the growing aging baby boomer population will mean that more surgical procedures will be taking place. In addition to favorable growth, the salary is also competitive. According to BLS, in 2009 the median annual salary for a surgical technician was $39,400. The top quarter of earners earn $47,310, and the top 10% of earners earn an average $55,620.

Advancement is possible with additional training. A surgical technologist could further specialize in a specific area of surgery. They could also become a circulating technologist, or a first assistant, both of which take on more responsibilities in the operating room. This job can promise growth and stability in a booming healthcare field, but you will need to obtain a degree from an accredited school. If you are interested in working as a surgical technologist, find the right training program for you, and earn your degree soon.

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