Surgical Technologist - How to Become a Surgical Technologist

Surgical Technologist

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Surgical Technologist Job Description

 

Surgical technologists are important members of an operating room team. They work under the supervision and authority of the surgeon, unless hospital policy or state law prohibits this arrangement. The surgical technologist works in the operating room with the circulating nurse, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon. If you are considering a job as a surgical tech, it's a good field to go into because it doesn't take a ton of education to become a surgical tech, they get paid a pretty decent entry-level salary, and they have a strong job-growth outlook.

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Responsibilities

 

The primary role fulfilled by the surgical technologists is the first scrub role which directly assists the surgeon and surgery team. The first scrub role has more responsibilities than the second scrub role and can only be achieved if they prove they are competent with main assistant functions.

If they prove their proficiency in the first scrub role, they can be promoted to the first assistant role, but that usually comes with a bit more training and education as a first assistant provides direct, primary assistance to the primary surgeon. Before an operation begins, they help prepare the operating room by performing the following duties:

  • Setting up the sterile surgical instruments
  • Preparing the equipment and supplies for the surgery, such as drapes, gowns, suction tubing, gloves, receiving solutions and obtaining medication from the circulating nurse
  • Check the sterile equipment for proper working order and make adjustments if needed

Surgical technologists assist the surgeon and team throughout the procedure. They begin their main duties when the surgeon is ready to put on the gown and gloves for surgery. They assist wherever they are needed, if they have the proper credentials for the responsibilities. There duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Placing sterile drapes on patient

  • Anticipating surgeon needs

  • Passing instruments and necessary supplies to surgery team

  • Performing counts on instruments before and after surgery

  • Providing solutions and medications to surgeon during procedure

  • Receiving tissue specimens and pass them to circulating nurse

  • Overseeing maintenance of sterile environments and techniques

  • Managing suction and sponges during operations

  • Cutting sutures

  • Manipulating endoscopic cameras

 

The surgical technologist may fulfill the role of assistant circulator if this is a stipulation in state law or hospital policy. When functioning in this role, a technologist assists in moving patients to the operating room, may be asked to help in properly positioning the patient on the operating table and will prepare the patient for surgery by shaving incision sites and disinfecting the surgical area.

As the procedure progresses, the surgical technologist may be responsible for obtaining additional supplies that are needed to complete the surgery. This can include sponges or sutures. The surgical technologist may replace suction containers when full and provide sterile dressings at the end of the procedure. Once the surgery is complete, they may assist with moving the patient from the operating room table to a stretcher for transport to the recovery room.

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Skills

 

Surgical techs must have a list of skills and capabilities since they work first hand with surgery teams and deal with stressful, high paced environments.

These are some of the most important skills surgical techs need to work in the field:

Stress Management

Operating Rooms are high stress, fast-paced environments, so surgical techs need to be able to work well under stress and handle emotionally intense situations. It's important to separate personal feelings from tragedy as those instances can build and create emotional instability.

Detail-Oriented

This is an important skill since they are responsible for ensuring sterile environments and preparing equipment, along with working along side surgeons to provide them instruments and supplies during a procedure.

Dexterity

Since they must move fast and hand instruments back and fourth, along with retrieving supplies, they must be agile and good with their hands. The demanding atmosphere of an OR requires dexterity.

Integrity

They must be honest because they work with patients and have to ensure sterility of environments. If they lie about parts of their job, they could risk infection or death for their patients.

Stamina

Surgery techs work for long hours and are standing for most of them. It's important to be in good physical condition so you can move around and withstand the demand on your body.

Operation Monitoring

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.

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Working Conditions

 

Surgical technologist work in a clean, cool, and well-lit environment when not in the operating room. In the operating room, it can quickly warm up under the bright surgical lights, especially when wearing the sterile gown and gloves. Like all members of the surgical team, the technologist must stand for long periods and remain alert during operative procedures. They may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant odors, sights, and fluids. 

As part of the surgical team, they may be required to take emergency on-call duty, which cuts into their personal time and eliminates weekends and holidays and demands late nights and early mornings. If an emergency arises, such as a car accident or a pregnant woman requiring a Cesarean section, the on-call team members must report in immediately, regardless of the time of day or night, or what they may be doing at the time.

 


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How to Become a Surgical Technologist:

 

Surgical technologists can receive training through various means. Surgical tech programs are offered by community and junior colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and through military service. It can take from 12 months for a certificate program or two years for an associate degree.

You must first have high school diploma, or it's equivalent, for entrance into a surgical technologist program. Many do, however, require that applicants have taken and passed certain prerequisite courses, generally in basic science and medical terminology.

 

1. Earn a Degree or Certificate

 

Surgical tech programs are offered in 9 month certificate courses or at 2 year accredited college or universities. Earning your certificate or degree is crucial to becoming a surgical tech because it teaches you the critical skills needed to work in the OR. The courses offered mostly consist of the following:

  • Anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Medical Terminology

  • Hands-on Training in Sterilization Techniques

  • Surgery Procedures

  • Equipment Handling

  • Patient Care and Safety

 

2. Pass the Surgical Technologist Certification Exam (NSTC)

 

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers a comprehensive exam that consists of multiple-choice questions and is administered on the computer. Passing the test qualifies the student as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).

OR

Surgical tech hopefuls can take an exam offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) called the National Surgical Technologist Certification Exam. This exam certifies the candidate as a Tech in Surgery- Certified (TS-C). To take the test, applicants must complete one of three paths for eligibility:

  • Complete an accredited degree program
  • Finish 2 years of hospital training
  • Gain 7 years of experience in the field
  • Military training program in surgical technology

 

3. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

 

CSTs and TS-Cs are required to renew their certification to maintain skills and keep up-to-date with policies and procedures. Surgery Techs can do this one of two ways. They can enroll in continuing education classes or retake their certification exam every four years. 

 

4. Further Your Education and Become a First Assistant

 

Many CSTs choose to further their education and advance to become a first assistant (aka surgical assistant). A first assistant is responsible for primary assistance for the main surgeon on duty and is directly involved in the surgical procedure. 

The NBSTSA offers a National Certification Exam specifically for First Assistants. To be eligible, one must complete the following:

  • Accredited First Assistant or Surgical Assistant degree program
  • Be a certified Surgical Tech w/ extensive First Assistant work experience. 

A surgical tech who earns the NBSTSA certification officially becomes a Certified First Assistant (CFA). The National Surgical Assistant Association also offers a Surgical Assistant Credential which is earned by passing a written, oral and practical certification exam. 

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
11.28.2016
Are you interested in working in Wabash, Indiana? Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. Must be a graduate of a Surgical Technologist program or must provide evidence of employment as a Surgical Technologist prior to July 1,...
10.04.2016
Associates Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. Must be a graduate of a Surgical Technologist program or must provide evidence of employment as a Surgical Technologist prior to...
11.28.2016
Summary Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the Perioperative environment. The scope of responsibility of the Surgical Technologist includes...
11.28.2016
VCU Health System's Operating Room is seeking a FT Surgical Technologist. The Surgical Technologist (operating room scrub technician) sets up sterile field, gathers supplies for surgical cases, based on knowledge of instruments and equipment to...
11.28.2016
VCU Health System's Labor & Delivery is seeking a FT Surgical Technologist. The Surgical Technologist (operating room scrub technician) sets up sterile field, gathers supplies for surgical cases, based on knowledge of instruments and...
11.28.2016
VCU Health System's Operating Room is seeking a PRN Surgical Technologist. The Surgical Technologist (operating room scrub technician) sets up sterile field, gathers supplies for surgical cases, based on knowledge of instruments and equipment to...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the Perioperative environment. The scope of responsibility of the...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED This position will be located at Parkview Noble, however based upon census and staffing needs you may be required to float to Parkview Lagrange. Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. Must be a graduate...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Kendallville, IN? This position will be located at Parkview Noble, however based upon census and staffing needs you may be required to float to Parkview Lagrange. Must have a...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
11.28.2016
High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
  1. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Are you interested in working in Wabash, Indiana? Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. Must be a graduate of a Surgical Technologist program or must provide evidence of employment as a Surgical Technologist prior to July 1,...
  2. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Associates Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. Must be a graduate of a Surgical Technologist program or must provide evidence of employment as a Surgical Technologist prior to...
  3. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Summary Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the Perioperative environment. The scope of responsibility of the Surgical Technologist includes...
  4. Surgical Technologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    VCU Health System's Operating Room is seeking a FT Surgical Technologist. The Surgical Technologist (operating room scrub technician) sets up sterile field, gathers supplies for surgical cases, based on knowledge of instruments and equipment to...
  5. Surgical Technologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    VCU Health System's Labor & Delivery is seeking a FT Surgical Technologist. The Surgical Technologist (operating room scrub technician) sets up sterile field, gathers supplies for surgical cases, based on knowledge of instruments and...
  6. Surgical Technologist Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    VCU Health System's Operating Room is seeking a PRN Surgical Technologist. The Surgical Technologist (operating room scrub technician) sets up sterile field, gathers supplies for surgical cases, based on knowledge of instruments and equipment to...
  7. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
  8. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
  9. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the Perioperative environment. The scope of responsibility of the...
  10. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
  11. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED This position will be located at Parkview Noble, however based upon census and staffing needs you may be required to float to Parkview Lagrange. Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. Must be a graduate...
  12. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
  13. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Kendallville, IN? This position will be located at Parkview Noble, however based upon census and staffing needs you may be required to float to Parkview Lagrange. Must have a...
  14. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...
  15. Surgical Technologist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    High School Diploma/GED Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Summary: Under the Perioperative leader, assumes responsibility and accountability for assuring quality care as a health care team member within the...