Surgical technologists serve as assistants to surgeons. They are responsible for readying operating rooms for procedures, sterilizing and laying out the needed medical equipment, and handing instruments to surgeons and nurses during operations.
These professionals also prepare patients for operations, clean incision points, apply dressings, and ensure that medical equipment is functioning. They help move patients into recovery rooms following operations, and see that the rooms are properly equipped.
Most people in the field are employed at hospitals, though some work in doctor’s offices, dental offices, and outpatient-care facilities. Some education and training are required to get a job as a surgical technologist, which is also known as an operating-room technician.
This position provides a solid, middle-class salary and the satisfaction of serving people with serious medical problems.
Surgical Technologist Job Description
Surgical technologists work as members of teams consisting of doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other health-care professionals. They not only assist during operations, but also are responsible for the handling and disposal of laboratory specimens.
Preparing a patient for surgery entails washing, shaving, and disinfecting parts of the body involved in the procedure. Surgical technologists help move patients into operating rooms, and position them on operating tables. They are responsible for monitoring patients’ vital signs during surgery.
The medical instruments that a surgical technologist prepares, arranges, and hands to surgeons include scalpels and forceps. There are also numerous materials (like scrubs, gowns, gloves, needles, and sponges) that need to be provided.The duties of a surgical technologist include:
- Prepare operating rooms for procedures;
- Obtain and arrange equipment and supplies needed for surgery;
- Sterilize equipment and ensure it is in working order;
- Prepare patients for surgery;
- Move patients from their rooms to operating and recovery rooms;
- Pass instruments and other materials to surgeons and others during operations;
- Assess and predict patients’ needs, and monitor their vital signs;
- Prepare and handle medication;
- Apply dressings, cut sutures, and perform urinary catheterization;
- Handle specimens for laboratory analysis;
- Maintain patient records.
Surgical Technologist Prerequisites
Surgical technologists must stand for long periods during surgery. Some physical strength and agility are required, as patients and heavy equipment need to be moved and positioned. Some of the things these professionals see and smell in the operating room are disturbing. Exposure to infectious disease is possible.
Good communication skills are crucial for serving patients and working with fellow medical professionals. A solid technical understanding of how the equipment works, attention to detail, and manual dexterity are also essential.
Surgical technologists generally work 40-hour weeks. While most are employed on weekdays, others may be called upon at night or during weekends. Some are on call to respond to emergencies.
How to Become a Surgical Tech
To be eligible for credentials to practice in the field, the primary educational requirement is graduation from a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Care Programs or the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools.
These programs take as little as nine months to complete, though a two-year associate’s degree is recommended and often required by employers. Students take classes in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, ethics, surgical instruments and equipment, patient care, sterilization techniques, surgical procedures, postoperative care, and other subjects. They also perform mock surgeries in real operating rooms.
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Surgical Technologist Certification
Surgical technologists can improve their chances of getting hired by becoming certified in the field. Some employers, as well as a number of states, mandate that practitioners have such credentials.
Graduation from a surgical technology program is a requirement for being allowed to take the certification exam. It is administered by the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist, which sets guidelines for the credentials. The council’s board of directors includes representatives of the American College of Surgeons and the Association of Surgical Technologists.
Surgical Technologist Salary
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Surgical Technologist Job Description SummaryHere is a short recap of the surgical technologist job description:
- Provide assistance to surgeons during surgeries
- Work with surgeons and nurses
- Minimum 9 months certification program
- Certification not required but recommended
- 30% employment growth by 2022