The following is a step-by-step process that outlines how to become a surgical tech. This guide will list out the major steps and provide you with a broad overview of what the career prospects are for surgical assistants.
Becoming a Surgical Tech
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Find an Accredited Surgical Tech School
Now that you are excited about helping people and ensuring the surgical team performs their duties to the best of their ability, the next step is to enroll in a certification program or accredited institution such as a community college, vocational school, university or hospital to become a surgical tech.
To become a surgical tech generally takes from nine months to two years to complete after which time students will receive a diploma, certificate or associate’s degree. An education in surgical technology includes many science courses including biology, pharmacology, medical terminology and other topics.
Surgical technology programs include both classroom and hands-on training during which time students also learn about surgical procedures and patient care.
Do You Have the Right Personality?
In addition to receiving an accredited education, surgical techs should also be well-organized, driven, rigorous, stable, strong enough to withstand the demanding and fast-paced environment and able to handle various tools in complex ways.
Surgical techs are also required to stay current with medical and technological advances in their field, as well as complete the necessary continuing education hours needed to maintain their certification.
Earn Your Certification
Most employers prefer certification prior to employment. In order to receive your certification, you must graduate from an accredited surgical technologists program.
Two separate councils certify surgical technologists: 1.) Tech in Surgery, Certified, granted by National Center for Competency Testing, and 2.) Liaison Council for the Certification of the Surgical Technology, which is given by the Certified Surgical Technologist, according to About Careers.
About Surgical Techs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgical techs, also known as “surg techs,” “scrub techs,” and operating room technicians, perform a number of exciting duties including holding internal organs in place during the surgery, holding retractors, and passing essential instruments to the surgeon and medical team during the surgery.
Aside from working closely beside surgeons, physicians, registered nurses and other healthcare workers, surgical techs also perform a host of other important duties such as preparing the operating room and patient for surgery. Prior to surgery, the surgical tech sets up the surgical instruments needed for the operation, prepares sterile solutions and medications and ensures that all surgical equipment is functioning properly.
They prepare patients for operation by positioning them on the operating table, cleansing and disinfecting incision sites and covering them with sterile drapes.
During the operation, surgical techs help the surgical team put on sterile gloves and gowns. They pass supplies and instruments to the surgical team and hold retractors and organs in place during the procedure. They may also set up robotic surgical equipment as well as handle specimens and take them to the lab for analysis.
After the operation, surgical techs may be responsible for applying bandages and other dressing to the cuts made during operation. They may also help move patients to recovery and restock the operating room after surgery.
If becoming a surgical tech sounds like something you would like to do, then read on to discover how to enter the exciting field of surgical technology to become a surgical tech
Average Salary for Surgical Technologists
The median salary for surgical technologists averages around $20.84 an hour, or $43,350 a year, while some higher salaries range between $46,000-$60,240 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Career Advancement and Employment Outlook
Surgical techs have many opportunities to advance their career. They can progress to surgical first assistant by completing a formal education program in surgical assisting or with additional on-the-job training. Surgical technologists can also advance their career by specializing in ongoing training in difficult medical specialties like cardiac surgery or neurosurgery. A surgical tech can also advance to a circulator. The circulator may assist with anesthesia and helps interview patients before and after surgery
Becoming a surgical tech has a strong employment outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects exponential growth of about 15% between 2014-2024, which is considered quicker than average in all occupations.