How to Become a Surgical Tech in 10 Steps

If you’re considering a career in surgical technology, you’re probably wondering how to become a surgical tech in 10 steps. Here’s a quick overview of the education and training you’ll need to get started in this rewarding field.

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Introduction

surgical techs also called operating room technicians or surgical technicians, work under the supervision of surgeons and registered nurses to ensure that surgical procedures are carried out safely and effectively. They prepare operating rooms for surgery, assemble and maintain sterile equipment, and help to position patients on the operating table.

Becoming a surgical tech generally requires completing a certificate or associate’s degree program in surgical technology, although some jobs may be available to candidates with a high school diploma and relevant training or experience. Once you have completed your education or training, you will need to pass a national certification exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) to earn the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. Some states also require surgical techs to be licensed.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become a surgical technologist in 10 steps.

Step One: Research the Profession

The first step to become a surgical tech is to research the profession. This means learning about the duties and responsibilities of surgical techs, the education and training requirements, and the job outlook You should also familiarize yourself with the different types of surgical tech programs and careers. This will help you decide if becoming a surgical tech is the right choice for you.

Step Two: Complete a High School Education or Equivalent
The second step to become a surgical tech is to complete a high school education or equivalent. Although some employers may hire candidates with a high school diploma or equivalent, most prefer candidates who have completed an accredited surgical technology program. If you plan to enroll in an accredited program, you will need to have completed high school or earned a GED.

Step Three: Enroll in an Accredited Surgical Technology Program
The third step to become a surgical tech is to enroll in an accredited surgical technology program. These programs typically take about two years to complete and offer both classroom and clinical instruction. During your time in an accredited program, you will take courses such as medical terminology, human anatomy, and physiology. You will also gain hands-on experience in a hospital or other healthcare facility through clinical rotations. Once you have completed an accredited program, you will be eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam.

Step Four: Become Certified as a Surgical Technologist
The fourth step to become a surgical tech is to become certified as a surgical technologist (CST). The CST exam is administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To be eligible for certification, you must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program and passed the CST exam. Once you are certified, you will need to renew your certification every four years by completing continuing education credits and paying a fee.

Step Five: Find Employment
The fifth step to become a surgical tech isto find employment. Surgical technologists typically work in hospitals but may also work in outpatient surgery centers, dental offices, or physician’s offices. You can search for open positions on job boards or through professional organizations such as the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST).

Step Two: Graduate from High School

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already completed high school. But if you haven’t, that’s the first thing you need to do before you can become a surgical tech. You don’t need to have completed any particular course of study in high school, but you should have a strong foundation in math and science. These subjects will come in handy when you start your training to become a surgical tech.

Step Three: Attend an Accredited Surgical Technology Program

Once you have completed the first two steps, you will need to attend an accredited surgical technology program. These programs are typically offered at community colleges, technical schools, and some four-year universities.

You will need to complete coursework in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, microbiology, pharmacology, and topics specific to surgical technology. Most programs also include clinical experience in a hospital setting, which will give you the opportunity to work with patients and surgeons.

Once you have completed your accredited surgical technology program, you will be eligible to take the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) certification exam. Passing this exam is required to become a certified surgical technologist (CST).

Step Four: Become Certified

After you have completed your accredited surgical technology program, it will be time to become credentialed by passing the national certification examination for surgical technologists. Once you have applied to take the test and been approved, you will be given a testing date. It is important to note that most states require surgical techs to be certified in order to work in the operating room.

There are two main credentialing organizations for surgical technologists, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Both organizations offer certification exams that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

The NBSTSA offers the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam, while the NHA offers the Certified Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician (CSPDT) exam. The CST exam is computer-based and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering various topics related to surgical technology. The CSPDT exam is also computer-based and consists of 125 multiple-choice questions covering topics related to sterile processing and distribution.

To be eligible to take either exam, you must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program or have completed a military training program in surgical technology. You must also adhere to a code of ethics and pass a background check. Once you have passed the exam, you will be credentialed as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) or a Certified Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician (CSPDT), respectively.

Step Five: Find Employment

The fifth step to becoming a surgical tech is to find employment. Once you have completed your accredited surgical technology program and have passed the NBSTSA certification exam, you will be ready to begin your career. Start by searching for open positions at hospitals, surgery centers, and other medical facilities in your area. You may also want to consider signing up with a staffing agency that specializes in placing surgical techs in temporary or contract positions.

Step Six: Maintain Certification

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam. To qualify to take the CST exam, candidates must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program and must have completed a minimum of AST courses. The NBSTSA also offers the Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) credential for surgical technologists who have been certified by the NBSTSA.

Step Seven: Advance Your Career

One you have completed your surgical tech training and become certified, you are ready to start your career. You may find entry-level positions in hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, or doctors’ offices. Once you have some experience, you may want to consider advancing your career by becoming a lead surgical tech, supervisor, or instructor. You may also want to pursue other credentials, such as a bachelor’s degree in surgical technology or a related field. With further education and training, you could become a registered nurse or doctor.

Step Eight: Consider Furthering Your Education

There are always Continuing Education (CE) courses available to surgical techs. In addition, many employers will reimburse you for coursework or offer tuition assistance if you decide to take classes to further your education. Doing so will not only make you a more attractive job candidate, but it will also help you keep abreast of the latest technology and procedures. The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) offers a voluntary certification program that may be of interest to you. Holding the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential denotes a level of expertise that is respected by employers and peers alike.

Step Nine: Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Changes

While working as a surgical tech, it’s important to stay abreast of changes in the field. One way to do this is by belonging to a professional organization, such as the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). The AST offers members continuing education opportunities, which can help you keep your skills sharp and improve your chances of getting promoted.

The AST also offers a credentialing program. The Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential is voluntary, but it can show employers that you are committed to your career and have the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in your role. To be eligible for the CST exam, you must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program and worked full-time as a surgical tech for at least one year.

Step Ten: Network

As you network, be sure to stress your commitment to the field of surgical technology and to learning as much as possible. You never know when you’ll meet someone who can help you land your first job or provide valuable information and advice. Get involved with professional organizations, such as the Association of Surgical Technologists, and attend conferences and continuing education courses.

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