Surgical Technology Training, Career and Jobs Guide

Surgical Technologists In the Modern Medical Field

With a growing number of medically necessary as well as elective surgeries taking place in the United States, the need for experienced surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals has dramatically increased.

This includes surgical technicians, who serve as part of the vital support network that allows the surgeon to safely operate on the patient. Due to this growing need, the surgical technician is a promising field for newly graduated students to enter.

The Role of Surgical Technicians in the Medical Field

The surgical technician or surgical technologist provides support for surgeons and nurses, before, during and after surgical procedures.

They generally work under the supervision of a registered nurse or doctor when performing their duties. Surgical technicians have a wide variety of duties, but their primary responsibilities include:

  • Surgical technicians are responsible for preparing the operating room or work area for surgery. This includes making certain that all equipment is ready and in the correct place and helping move the patient into the surgery.
  • The surgical tech is responsible for sterilizing the surgical tools and equipment used during the surgery. This is a very important duty and a vital part of ensuring that the patient does not contract a postoperative infection from improperly sterilized equipment.
  • The surgical tech must ensure that all supplies are ready for use, including sutures and dressings. As with the surgical tools, it is important that the tech make certain all supplies are kept sterile prior to use in order to protect the health of the patient.
  • The technician assists the surgeon during the surgery by providing supplies and instruments as needed. The surgical tech must be skilled and capable of rapidly responding to the surgeons needs.
  • After the surgery, the surgical technician will help transport the patient to the recovery room and then clean and prepare the surgical theater for the next surgery.
  • In some cases, the surgical technician may assist other members of the surgical team such as the anesthesiologist and his or her assistants.

In all cases, the surgical technician must be able to quickly and effectively respond to the requests of coworkers and superiors. In addition, a high level of comprehension of verbal and written instructions and the ability to communicate with coworkers are absolutely vital for the surgical technician.

Finally, especially for trauma care or other emergency surgeries, the surgical technician must be able to effectively function during periods of great stress. During emergency surgical procedures, the technician may be required to perform his or her duties very quickly while keeping track of the needs of the surgeon conducting the operation. In these cases, the surgical technician will have to remain calm and professional, no matter how stressful the situation is.

Where Surgical Technicians Work

Although normally associated with large hospitals, surgical technicians can be found in a variety of professional roles. Many technicians assist with elective surgery that takes place in the doctor’s office for example. In addition, the rising number of urgent care clinics has resulted in a demand for surgical technicians who assist during minor surgical procedures.

In many cases establishments such as outpatient clinics, urgent care centers and specialized medical practices will only perform certain types of surgeries, such as the minor surgeries common at urgent care clinics. In addition, most outpatient clinics schedule their surgeries well in advance, unlike hospitals which may be forced to quickly perform surgery on individuals who have suffered an unexpected illness or accident.

Surgical Technician Pay and Compensation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for surgical technicians is $39,920 with most surgical techs working full time. The exact amount of pay for any given technician will vary depending on their experience, the region they live in, and the nature of their employer. In addition, certified surgical techs may enjoy better advancement and income opportunities.

Surgical Technician Training and Schools

Training to become a surgical technician involves a program that can last anywhere from several months to two years or more, depending on the nature of the program and whether or not the student can attend a program full time. These programs may be provided by local community colleges, or offered by professional vocational schools. Upon completion of the program, the surgical technician will receive an associate’s degree or certificate demonstrating that he or she successfully completed the program.

In addition to traditional programs, some schools offer distance-learning programs in surgical technology. These programs can be very helpful for students who cannot attend a traditional school setting due to work or family commitments.

Accredited Surgical Technician Programs

In 2010, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) started accrediting qualified surgical technician programs.

As a nationally recognized authority on accrediting medical education programs, this can allow students to enjoy greater employment prospects if they graduate from an accredited program. In addition, these programs may allow the technician to more easily become a certified surgical technician.

In order to become accredited, the school must demonstrate that its curriculum effectively covers the duties of the surgical technician and the academic and practical information needed by the technician. In addition, the faculty of accredited programs are held to a higher standard than non-accredited programs.

The CAAHEP accreditation program utilizes information collected by the Association of Surgical Technologists as well as the American College of Surgeons in order to ensure the best possible accuracy in the accreditation process.

Becoming a Certified Surgical Technician

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) also offers testing to allow the surgical technician to be identified as a certified surgical technician.

This demonstrates that the technician has a proven level of skill in his or her field. As a part of the certification test, the candidate must take a comprehensive exam on the knowledge required in order to effectively perform the duties of a surgical technician, in addition to providing proof of graduation from an accredited school or program.

Surgical Tech Programs By State

Job-Opportunities for Surgical Techs

Surgical technicians are currently benefiting from the increasing emphasis on health care in America as well as the growing number of elderly who require more in the way of hospitalization and surgical procedures. Due to the importance of fully staffing hospitals, urgent care clinics and doctor’s offices, job opportunities for surgical technicians are available across the United States.

Currently, the rate of employment increase for surgical technicians is at 19 percent, according to the BLS. This is close to the average for all jobs in the United States.

However, the continuing growth of the healthcare sector and the drive to control costs by replacing registered nurses with surgical technicians makes it probable that the rate of employment will increase.

Finally, the growing number of elective surgeries, such as diet control surgery or cosmetic surgery, will continue to increase the number of establishments that require the services of a surgical technician.

Finally, certified surgical technicians may enjoy better job opportunities as many organizations will prefer to hire individuals with proof of their qualifications.

This will also apply to the graduates of accredited school programs, as those programs have demonstrated the ability to produce highly qualified graduates.

Specialties for Surgical Technicians

surgical techsAlthough surgical technicians do not have any specific specialties, experienced technicians may find themselves being offered greater responsibility within their organization.

This can include supervising other surgical technicians, assisting in the training of newer personnel, and developing methods to more effectively support the surgeon and nurses in the operating room.

However, the nature of such duties can vary widely from establishment to establishment.

The Surgical Technician in the Modern World

The surgical technician is a vital component of the modern medical establishment, providing the support surgeons and nurses need to effectively treat their patients, whether it is for a minor surgery or for a full-scale heart transplant.

As a result of this, a surgical technician is part of a socially valued and highly stable profession. With the continued rise in the number and extent of surgical procedures many Americans undergo, the surgical technician can look forward to a career that remains an expanding and indispensable field, no matter the condition of the economy.

Because making wise career decisions is so vital to an individual’s personal and professional life, it is important to do so with as much information as possible.

The other pages on this site can effectively provide a variety of important facts about surgical technicians and other employment fields.

By carefully studying this information, the potential employee can become fully prepared to make the important choices that will define his or her future career.