What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

A surgical technologist is an allied health professional who works alongside surgeons, nurses and other medical staff in the operating room.

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A surgical technologist, also called a surgical technician or scrub, is an allied health professional who works alongside surgeons, anesthesiologists, registered nurses and other surgical personnel to ensure that surgeries are performed safely and effectively. Surgical technologists typically complete a postsecondary educational program and must obtain certification from a nationally recognized body, such as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or the National Healthcare Association.

The duties of a surgical technologist depend on the type of surgery being performed. Before surgery, surgical technologists may help prepare the operating room by setting up sterile instruments and equipment. During surgery, they may hand instruments to surgeons or hold body parts in place. After surgery, they may help to clean and sterilize the operating room.

Surgical technologists typically work in hospitals but may also work in outpatient surgery centers or in physicians’ offices. They may be on their feet for long periods of time and must be able to lift heavy objects.

What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

A surgical technologist is an allied health professional that works closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, registered nurses, and other surgical personnel during operative procedures. Surgical technologists are also commonly referred to as operating room technicians, surgical technicians, surgical techs or OR techs. They play a vital role in the surgical team and are responsible for ensuring that the operating room is properly prepared for surgery and that all surgical instruments are sterile.

Pre-operative Procedures

A surgical technologist, also called a scrub tech, is part of the surgical team. He or she helps prepare operating rooms, equipment and patients for surgery. Surgical technologists work closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists and registered nurses.

Pre-operative Procedures
The role of the surgical technologist in pre-operative procedures includes:
-Greeting the patient and escorting him or her to the pre-operative area
-Taking the patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature
-Answering any questions the patient might have about the upcoming surgery
-Assisting with pre-operative tests, such as X-rays and blood work
-Preparing the operating room for surgery by setting up sterile drapes and instruments

Intra-operative Procedures

surgical techs are members of the medical team who work in operating rooms alongside surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and nurses. They play a vital role in helping to ensure patient safety and positive surgical outcomes.

Surgical techs are responsible for numerous tasks during surgery, including preparing the operating room for surgery, sterilizing instruments, and setting up equipment. They also may assist the surgeon during the procedure, handing him or she instruments or other materials as needed. In some cases, surgical techs may also be responsible for closing incisions and applying dressings.

After surgery, surgical techs may help transport patients to recovery rooms and provide post-operative care. They also may clean and maintain operating rooms and equipment.

Post-operative Procedures

After the operation is completed, the surgical tech will Assist the surgeon in closing the incisions, which may involve using sutures, staples or other fasteners.In some cases, the surgical tech may also apply dressing to the incisions. The surgical tech will then transport the patient to the recovery room and provide any assistance that is needed during the recovery process.

What Are the Educational Requirements for a Surgical Tech?

The surgical technologist, also called a surgical technician or a scrub, is an integral member of the surgical team. The surgical technologist works closely with the surgeon, registered nurse, and anesthesiologist to ensure that the operating room is ready for the procedure and that the patient is prepared for surgery.

Certificate Programs

Surgical tech certificate programs typically last about nine months, but can be completed in as little as a semester if you have earned college credits in the past. Certificate programs often have prerequisites, such as completing a basic anatomy and physiology class before enrolling.

Once you have been accepted into a surgical tech certificate program, you will take classes and participate in hands-on training in a surgical setting. Your coursework will cover topics such as medical terminology, sterilization techniques, and patient care. You will also learn about the various types of surgical procedures and how to assist during each type of surgery.

After completing your surgical tech certificate program, you will need to pass the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) to earn your credential. Once you have passed the exam, you will need to renew your certification every four years by earning Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Associate’s Degree Programs

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Surgical Technology is the most common type of degree earned by surgical techs, although a certificate or a diploma in surgical technology may suffice for entry-level positions.

Most AAS programs in surgical technology take two years to complete and require the completion of general education courses, as well as classes focused on surgical procedures and patient care. Common courses include human anatomy, medical terminology, microbiology, pharmacology, and principles of surgery. Clinical experiences or internships are usually required as well.

Once you have completed your degree or certification program, you will need to pass the national Exam for the Certification of Surgical Technologists (CST) before you can begin working as a surgical tech. Most states also have licensure requirements.

What Are the Certification and Licensure Requirements for a Surgical Tech?

There are no formal education requirements for surgical techs, but most have completed a postsecondary training program. These programs typically last between nine and 15 months and lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree.

Most surgical tech programs include both classroom and clinical components. Classroom instruction typically covers topics such as human anatomy, medical terminology, physiology, and sterile processing techniques. Clinical training gives students the opportunity to observe and participate in surgeries.

Surgical tech programs are offered at many community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes. Some hospitals also offer training programs that last up to two years.

After completing a surgical tech program, graduates must pass a national certification exam to earn the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. Some states also require surgical techs to be licensed.

What Are the job outlook and Salary Statistics for a Surgical Tech?

The surgical tech job outlook is positive, with a projected job growth of 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for a surgical technologist was $48,300 in May 2018, according to the BLS.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for surgical techs is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for surgical techs will grow by 11% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to the aging baby boomer population and the corresponding increase in the number of surgeries that will be performed. In addition, as more procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, there will be a need for surgical techs in ambulatory surgery centers and hospital outpatient departments.

Salary Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for surgical techs in 2018 was $47,300. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $67,710, while the bottom 10 percent brought home less than $33,770. Your exact salary will depend on a number of factors, including your experience level, education, geographic location and the type of employer you work for.

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