Surgical technicians play an important role as part of a medical team. They are responsible for making sure that the operating room is prepared for a specific procedure, and they assist the surgeon throughout the operation itself. The number of job openings for skilled assistants in the field of surgery is steadily increasing. Specialized programs at many Texas vocational schools and community colleges prepare students for an exciting career as a surgical tech.
The training is extensive and includes formal classroom instruction as well as laboratory work. Those individuals seeking an Associate’s degree will find several different programs available. Some of these accelerated courses take less than one year to complete, with the only prerequisite being a high school diploma and a minimum amount of college credits already earned.
A surgical assistant is knowledgeable in the areas of human anatomy, surgical procedures and accepted standards, specialized instruments and tools needed for performing both exploratory and repair surgery, and medical records keeping. Knowing how to interact with both doctors and patients is a critical part of becoming a successful assistant in the medical field.
Rehabilitation and physical therapyAs the medical industry continues to become more and more specialized, surgical technicians find niches to which they may be drawn. For example, the dental industry is divided into numerous sub-specialties including preventative surgery and periodontics. Assistants are needed in these fields to aid the oral surgeon in the areas of operations room prep, patient monitoring, and records keeping.
Surgical technicians are responsible for making sure the instruments used are clean and sanitized. The tools and instruments needed for a specific procedure are clearly stated in the operations procedure instructions. The surgical tech reads the pre-operation report and organizes the operating room with the proper equipment and tools, laid out according to accepted standards. During surgery, the tech acts as a right-hand assistant to the physician. This means that a thorough training program includes courses that teach proper etiquette in a medical service environment.
Most of the technical schools and community colleges offering courses in surgical assistance have a one- or two-year Associate’s degree program. A prerequisite will be prior credits in math, biology, and chemistry. Some of the core courses include basic nursing techniques, classes in communications and medical terminology, and studies of human anatomy.
Students are expected to have already completed a certain amount of college courses and earned a minimum number of college credits. Those holding a Bachelor’s degree and who have completed courses in math and science will be able to earn their Associate’s degree as a surgical technician in as little as one year.
Certification is not a state requirement in Texas, but those who complete an Associate’s degree program and pass a certification examination will have a greater number of jobs from which to choose. Many hospitals and private clinics will only hire surgical techs who have been certified by one of several authorities. These include the National Center for Competency Testing and the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Students may take the exam immediately after earning their degree. Those who choose to enter the work force or complete an internship may also take the exam.
National certification is an added credential that helps individuals obtain the most lucrative positions offering the highest rates of pay. Certification is not permanent and must be renewed every several years. Those who work as a licensed surgical assistant will also be required to take part in lectures or continue their education in order for the certification to remain valid.
Texas is home to a large number of colleges and vocational schools offering degree programs for surgical techs and surgical assistants. The programs have been developed to help students gain an understanding of how surgical procedures are performed, why the operations are carried out in a certain manner, and how the assistant works alongside the attending physician. The schools listed here are accredited and recognized by the CAAHEP.
These schools offer one- and two-year programs, some of which are geared toward the earning of an Associate’s degree. Students are encouraged to ask the admissions office of these schools about studying to become a First Surgical Assistant. This title refers to those individuals who have completed a more comprehensive course that includes many hours of laboratory study as well as internship or on-the-job training.
Beginning salaries for a surgical technician in Texas range from $25,000 for an non-certified individual to more than $40,000 for a First Surgical Assistant. Those holding an Associate’s degree and who have at least three years experience may find available job positions that pay in excess of $60,000 per year.
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