Becoming a Surgical Technologists in Today’s Economy
Becoming a surgical technologist is an excellent path to a secure, well paying and prestigious career. As part of America’s rapidly expanding healthcare sector, a surgical technician plays a vital role in providing high quality health care to individuals who are undergoing elective and non-elective surgery.
What is a Surgical Technician?
In the modern medical field, a surgical technician assists the surgeon and other medical professionals before, during and after a surgery. Depending on the nature of the surgery, the technician may work alone with the surgical team, or there may be several surgical techs, each one handling an aspect of the operation.
Among the most common duties of a surgical tech are the following:
- They prepare the operating room and all associated equipment for surgery, ensuring that all supplies are present and in proper condition for use.
- They ensure that all equipment and supplies are sterilized. This is especially important given the dangers that postoperative infections can pose to a patient.
- Before the surgery, they prepare the patient for surgery by sterilizing surgical incision sites, moving them to the surgical theater and positioning them in order to improve the surgeon’s access.
- During the surgery, the surgical technician will provide the surgeon and nurses with any needed equipment, such as scalpels or sutures.
- After the surgery, the surgical technician will help return the patient to his or her room or recovery ward, and replace all expended supplies in the surgical theater in order to prepare it for the next surgery.
Where Do Surgical Techs Work?
Although many surgical technicians in Arizona work in a traditional hospital setting, there are other employment options for surgical techs. Many doctor’s offices perform minor surgical procedures, and thus may require the services of a surgical technician, while urgent care clinics also employ a large number of surgical techs. Additionally, the growing popularity of elective cosmetic and weight control surgeries has led to an increasing demand for surgical techs who can assist in those clinics.
Becoming a Surgical Technician
An individual wishing to become a surgical technician should attend an accredited program. These programs are offered by a variety of schools, ranging from community colleges to private vocational institutions. Surgical tech programs will usually award an associate’s degree in surgical technology when the student completes the program.
In most cases, a full-time program will take about two years to complete, depending on the student’s schedule. Many programs offer part-time classes, allowing working students to attend classes in the evening and on the weekends. Finally, some institutions have distance-learning programs, enabling the student to work from home via the Internet. The allows the student to complete the program at his or her own pace, and can be very useful for working students or those who are caring for a family.
Students should make certain that their surgical tech program has been accredited. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) provides accreditation for qualified surgical tech programs. Accreditation ensures that the program maintains the highest level of educational quality. Furthermore, by graduating from an accredited program, the student can improve his or her employment options, as well as making it easier to become a certified tech at a later date.
Certified Surgical Techs
Becoming a certified surgical tech will drastically improve the individual’s career options and likely lead to a higher salary in comparison to non-certified techs. After graduating from surgical tech schools in Arizona that have been accredited by CAAHEP, the student may seek out certification by taking a special exam designed to demonstrate the students practical and academic skills in the field of surgical technology.
The groups that offer certification include the following organizations:
- The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offer a certification program that allows the successful candidate to identify him or herself as a certified surgical technologist.
- The National Center for Competency Testing allows successful candidates to take the title: Tech in Surgery-Certified.
- Finally, the National Healthcare Association offers a certification program that allows the tech to identify him or herself as a Certified Operating Room Surgical Technician (CORST).
In all three cases, maintaining certification requires that the technician renew his or her certification and complete a mandated amount of continuing education in order to remain current with the state of modern surgical technology.
In today’s economy, the demand for surgical techs and the long-term growth of the healthcare sector make this an extremely attractive career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that surgical technologists will continue to enjoy sustained growth with over 110,000 technicians employed by 2020. Whether for a newly graduated individual or a currently employed worker, becoming a surgical technician can be a wise career decision.