Becoming a Surgical Tech in the State of California
In today’s economy, becoming a surgical technician can be a very wise career decision. This career is open to both newly graduated students and those individuals who have decided the time has come to transition from some other job in order to improve their professional standing.
With a growing demand for trained medical personnel, the long-term career prospects for surgical technicians will continue to improve in terms of salary and stability alike.
Becoming a Surgical Technician
In order to become a surgical technician, the candidate must successfully complete a surgical technologists program. There are a number of surgical tech schools in California, ranging from community colleges to vocational training institutions. Entering these programs requires that the student have a high school diploma or a graduate equivalency diploma (GED).
Over the course of his or her studies, the student will receive training in the following areas:
- The study of human anatomy and physiology.
- How to effectively and safely move patients and position them for surgery.
- How to prepare surgical equipment for use in the operating room. This includes training in how to sterilize surgical instruments in order to avoid infecting the patient.
- What type of terminology is used in the surgical theater, and how to effectively and promptly relay information to other medical professionals.
- How to quickly and effectively communicate with fellow workers during periods of high stress. This is especially important for technicians planning to work in emergency rooms.
The duration of a surgical technology program can vary depending on the school and the schedule of the student. A full-time program can take anywhere from several months to two years to complete. Many institutions offer part-time programs, including weekend and evening classes, for individuals who are currently working or otherwise unable to attending during regular school hours.
In addition, online courses are available at some schools, allowing the student to study at his or her own pace. In addition, online classes allow individuals who cannot easily attend in person to continue their studies from home.
Finding an Accredited School in California
When planning to attend surgical tech schools in California, in cities like San Diego, a potential student should ensure that they are properly accredited. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has provided accreditation services since 2010, ensuring that all accredited schools adhere to the highest professional standards. Many employers consider attending an accredited program mandatory for their workers, so it is important that the student verify that the school is currently accredited by checking with CAAHEP.
Becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist
While not mandatory in California, becoming a certified surgical technologist can improve the career prospects of a surgical tech. Becoming certified requires that the surgical tech successfully complete an accredited program, after which he or she will take a comprehensive exam what demonstrates the tech’s professional and academic skills. Currently, certification is offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Board of Surgical Technology (NBST), and the National Healthcare Association (NHA).
Certified surgical techs are generally capable of commanding higher salaries, and are also hired in preference to non-certified candidates.
Some organizations will only consider a certified surgical tech for certain duties, such as assisting in specialized operations. In addition, some states require certification for all surgical techs, so individuals considering moving to another state should verify what that state’s professional licensing requirements are.
Surgical Tech Careers in California
California has a large and dynamic healthcare sector, which has resulted in an increased demand for qualified surgical technicians. With the continuing rise in the number of elective surgeries, in addition in a continuing emphasis on quality health care for the elderly, the state’s healthcare sector is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future.
For surgical technicians, there are a wide variety of job positions available, with varying salaries and duties. Employers focusing on elective surgeries will have regular employment schedules, while hospitals and other institutions that operate on a 24-hour basis will have a need for a larger number of surgical technicians to cover all shifts.
Among the common careers a surgical technician can find in California are the following:
- Many technicians work at surgical dental clinics, assisting the surgeon in performing corrective dental surgery.
- A doctor’s office may require the assistance of a surgical technician when performing minor surgeries on his or her patients.
- Weight-loss clinics will require surgical technicians to assist in performing various types of surgery.
- Cosmetic surgery providers commonly make use of surgical techs during their operations.
- Urgent care clinics are becoming increasingly popular and perform a variety of minor surgeries.
- Trauma centers require highly skilled surgical techs who can function under conditions of high stress during emergency surgical procedures.
In all of these cases, a surgical technician will become a valued part of the medical team, assisting his or her colleagues in providing the best possible care for their patients.
The Current Professional Outlook for Surgical Techs
The surgical technician’s profession is currently growing at a rate of approximately 19 percent through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS). Combined with the retirement of older technicians the establishment of new hospitals and clinics will ensure that newly graduated and experienced technicians alike will have a growing number of job opportunities in California.
Additionally, surgical technicians are well compensated compared to other careers with equivalent professional requirements. The median salary for a surgical tech is over $39,000. Some fields, such as outpatient care centers, provide a higher wage to the surgical tech. Finally, given their training and experience, a surgical tech can decide to transition to other medical specialties in order to advance his or her career.
The field of surgical technology is a highly respected part of the healthcare sector. Whether as a member of a hospital surgical team, or an assistant in a dental surgery clinic, the surgical technician provides a vital service to society.