Online Programs and Surgical Technicians
In today’s economy, it is more important than ever before to enter a well-compensated and reliable career. Fortunately, the continued growth of the healthcare sector has resulted in a rising number of openings for surgical technologists.
This has opened an extremely promising career to a wide variety of individuals, ranging from newly graduated adults entering the job market for the first time to currently employed individuals who are seeking a more rewarding and personally satisfying career in the healthcare industry.
The Duties of Surgical Technicians
Surgical techs assist the surgeon, nurses and other medical professionals in ensuring that patients under their care receive the most effective treatment possible. In general, surgical technologists perform the following duties:
- Prepare the equipment and supplies needed for the surgery. This includes ensuring that they have been properly sterilized before use.
- Before the surgical procedure, the technician will assist in moving the patient to the surgery, and then positioning them in such a way as to make the surgery as easy as possible.
- During the surgical procedure, the technician will pass tools and perform other support functions at the direction of the lead surgeon.
- After the procedure, the surgical tech will assist in moving the patient back to his or her room.
- Finally, the surgical technician will help in cleaning and preparing the operating room for later procedures.
Surgical Tech Specialties
In addition to assisting the surgeon in his or her general duties, some surgical technicians work in specialized fields. A common area of specialization is assisting in weight control and cosmetic surgical procedures, which are usually carried out by private clinics. Other specializations that are available to surgical technicians are assisting with optometric surgery, dental surgery and working in trauma care centers.
Becoming a Surgical Technology
Although many states do not require a surgical technician to obtain an education from an accredited program, those interested in a career as a surgical tech should make certain to attend a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This body ensures that all accredited surgical technologist programs adhere to a very high standard of education. Graduating from an accredited program can improve the salary and career options of the surgical technologist and in fact, most certification programs require the surgical technologist to have graduated from an accredited program.
In most cases, a surgical technologist program takes approximately two years to complete for full-time students. Many program offer part-time schedules for those students who are currently working or otherwise unable to attend classes full-time. Many classes for part-time students are offered in the evening or during the weekend, in order to accommodate the student’s schedule.
Online Surgical Technology Programs
For those students who cannot attend a program in person, many schools offer online surgical technology programs. However, due to the nature of the surgical technologist’s duties, a student cannot take the entire program online.
In general, the following subjects can be completed by online courses:
- Human anatomy and physiology, especially as it relates to the duties of the surgical technician.
- Aseptic techniques to avoid postoperative infections in patients.
- Surgical instruments and procedures.
- Pharmacology, including the symptoms relating to the use of general and local anesthetics.
- The care of patients during, before and after the surgical procedure.
- The practice of medical ethics as they relate to the surgical technician.
Online Programs and Medical Training
While much of the surgical technology program can be handled via online courses, there are aspects of the program that require the students to have direct and supervised experience. This ranges from courses in anatomy to directly assisting surgeons in a supervised training setting. Only by obtaining this direct experience can the student truly prepare him or herself for a career as a surgical technologist.
In many cases, online programs have ties with hospitals or other institutions where surgical procedures are carried out, allowing them to have qualified instructors and surgeons assist the students in preparing for their duties as a surgical technologist. In other cases, internships may be made available for graduates of the online portion of the program, allowing them to be trained as surgical technicians while earning a stipend. In addition, those students who impress their instructors may find employment with the same groups that handled their internships, rather than being forced to seek out employment after their internship is concluded.
Finally, graduates of online surgical tech programs can seek to become certified surgical technicians. Certified technicians enjoy better salary and career options. In addition, some states require certification for surgical technicians. In order to become a certified surgical technologist, the technician will usually have to have graduated from an accredited program, pass a competency exam, and in some cases, be able to document working experience as a surgical tech.
Currently, three organizations provide certification for surgical technologists:
- The national Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) allows successful candidates to title themselves: Tech in Surgery-Certified.
- The National Healthcare Association (NHA) certifies individuals as a Certified Operating Room Surgical Technician (CORST).
- Finally, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offer a certification program that allows the successful candidate to identify him or herself as a certified surgical technologist.
The Benefits of Becoming a Surgical Technologist
Becoming a surgical technician can provide the gateway to a long-term and well-paid career. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are over 90,000 surgical technicians working in the United States. That number is expected to increase by at least 19 percent by 2020, making the career one that shows firm signs of sustained growth. With a median annual salary of nearly $40,000, the surgical technician also enjoys a very competitive salary.
Becoming a surgical technician is an attractive career choice. As a profession, it offers excellent compensation in addition to being highly regarded. For many individuals, becoming a surgical technician is an ideal career choice.