Surgical techs not only enjoy a good starting salary and benefits, they also have the opportunity to advance their career through continued education in the medical field. In North Carolina, surgical technician jobs openings are numerous because of the increasing population and the need for skilled, educated graduate students.
Becoming a licensed surgical tech involves the completion of a full training program. Depending on the educational level desired, this program can take from between one and two years. The title of First Surgical Assistant is awarded to those who complete a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree. These individuals are rewarded with the best opportunities available.
The state of North Carolina has a vast health care system that includes state-operated hospitals, health care facilities that are part of the state university, and countless health care centers and doctor’s offices that utilize the services of a skilled medical assistant.
A qualified surgical tech is a necessary part of a medical team working in hospitals, urgent care centers, and trauma units. These individuals assist surgeons by making sure the equipment is properly sterilized and made ready for use. They also assist surgeons in preparing the operating room for a specific procedure. Surgical technicians are thoroughly trained in the areas of sanitation and operating room etiquitte.
A first surgical assistant also monitors the condition of the patient before, during, and after a medical or surgical procedure. The assistant is familiar with equipment used to record vital signs and is often given the duty of tracking the condition of the patient, entering the data on paper, and entering the same information into a computer storage program.
There are several different types of programs available to those desiring a career as a surgical technician. In North Carolina, students will find numerous schools that offer accelerated courses leading to a diploma or certificate. Depending on the type of program chosen, the coursework will vary somewhat. Basically, study in this area focuses on familiarity of operating procedures in a medical facility and a deep understanding of medical terms that apply to surgery in general.
The coursework includes lectures, laboratory skills tests, research into the area of surgical procedures, and post-operative care training. The courses may be taken in-person at a traditional brick-and-mortar institution, or may be completed online.
Upon completion of the program, students are given a series of tests that will determine if certification as a surgical tech will be awarded. The certification as a first surgical assistant is given only after a period of internship, generally two to three years after a degree or diploma has been handed to the student.
National certification offers graduate students a far greater chance of locating a suitable position in the surgical assistant field. North Carolina students are not required to take this examination, but will greatly benefit from having a nationally recognized certificate when entering the work force.
More than 25 accredited surgical tech programs are available to students in North Carolina, many of them part of a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree program at the various colleges and universities located across the state. All of these programs include certification as well as a diploma or degree in the specified core study area.
Interested students may wish to look at an online map that details the location of these schools, their current enrollment requirements, and the different core course choices available. Accelerated courses at various community colleges and online tech schools may take less than two years to complete.
Some of the better-known surgical technician programs in North Carolina are offered by the following schools:
After the completion of the Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree program, individuals wishing to obtain national certification may do so by submitting a request to either the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or to the National Centre for Competency Testing. Both of these organizations are nationally recognized and offer a comprehensive exam that can be renewed every few years.
Salaries for entry level positions are generally in the $30-40K range. North Carolina graduate students who successfully pass the national exam may be rewarded with higher starting salaries. Experienced first surgical assistants who have at least three years of work experience often earn in excess of $70,000 per year.
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