The growing demand for qualified surgical assistants and surgical techs in the state of Oregon has resulted in an increased number of programs offered through community colleges and vocational schools.
Students interested in a career in the field of surgical assistance will find a number of degree programs focusing on the areas of dental surgery assistance, trauma center surgery assistance, and emergency room surgery assistance. These programs lead to a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree and can be completed in a formal classroom setting or through a comprehensive online class schedule.
National statistics clearly indicate a need for thousands of newly trained individuals for assisting surgeons in the operating room. Oregon hospitals, dental surgery clinics, and outpatient medical centers all require the presence of a trained surgical tech whenever a medical operation is performed.
Undergraduate students may obtain their Bachelor’s degree by completing a one- or two-year course load that focuses entirely on surgical assistant training. Credits can be transferred from the existing school to a specialized vocational institute or community college.
Those who already hold a Bachelor’s degree may wish to complete the coursework for an Associate’s degree in surgical assistance. These programs often take less than one year to complete, and the student is awarded not only an advanced degree but also certification accepted by most medical facilities in the state of Oregon.
Mt. Hood Community College has a very intense surgical technician training program for those interested in a career as a surgical assistant. The Associate degree program involves a total of 90 credits of coursework. Students will need to have satisfactory grades in mathematics, biology, and chemistry. Courses focus primarily on the theory of surgical procedure, anatomy and physiology, surgical terms and phrases, and specialized needs of patient groups such as children and the elderly.
Concorde Career College offers a diploma program in surgical technology. This one-year program is approved by the CAAHEP and includes study of anatomy, surgical procedures, patient care, and data recording. The program involves a total of 50 credits earned and more than 200 hours of laboratory work.
Job opportunities for those holding a diploma or certificate as a surgical tech are not limited to the large hospitals in Portland and other cities. Because of the growing specialties within each sector of the medical industry, job openings for qualified surgical techs exist in numerous clinics, medical treatment centers, and dental surgery facilities.
Surgical technicians have a number of responsibilities including the prepping of the operating room, the sterilization of surgical equipment and tools, monitoring of a patient’s condition both during and after surgery, and recording of information regarding the patient. Excellent communication between doctor and surgical assistant is vital. Coursework at an accredited surgical technician school involves many hours of study in the areas of medical terminology, surgical procedures, and the use of various tools and instruments.
Students interested in a career as a surgical technician are encouraged to look carefully at the core courses offered. Some online schools such as Kaplan University, The University of Phoenix, and DeVry University have specialized courses that are directly related to a specific field such as dental surgery or veterinary treatment.
The State of Oregon does not specifically require a license in order to perform work as a surgical technician. However, job openings for those who have completed a degree program and who hold a diploma or certificate are far more numerous. Certification is voluntary in Oregon and can be obtained through the National Center for Competency Testing, National Healthcare Association, or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. National certification requires a high school diploma and completion of a Bachelor’s or Associate degree from a school that is approved by the CAAHEP.
Starting salaries for those who hold a certificate from an accredited school range from about $35,000 for dental surgical assistants to more than $45,000 for those who hold the title of First Surgical Assistant. First surgical assistants will have completed a deeper course load followed by a specially organized examination. A first surgical assistant will have completed extensive coursework in the areas of patient care, emergency surgery procedures, and instrument readings.
The average salary for all surgical technicians in Oregon was approximately $47,000 as of 2011. The number of jobs in the state is expected to rise nearly 20 percent by the year 2020. This is due mainly to the aging population in the state, a direct result of the baby boomer years. The increase in specialized care centers for those with disabilities, who need physical therapy, or who are rehabilitating after surgery is another factor that contributes to this estimated increase in job opportunities for surgical techs.
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