Surgical Technologist

Anesthesia Technician, Certified Surgical Tech/First Assistant, Certified Surgical Technician   More Names
Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), Operating Room Surgical Technician (OR St), Operating Room Surgical Technologist, Operating Room Technician (OR Tech), Operating Room Technologist (OR Tech), Scrub Technician, Surgeon's Assistant, Surgery Technician (Surgery Tech), Surgical Orderly, Surgical Scrub Technician, Surgical Scrub Technologist (Surgical Scrub Tech), Surgical Technician, Surgical Technologist (Surgical Tech), Surgical Technologists
Description

Assist in surgical operations under the direction of surgeons ensuring that the operating room is safe and sterile, that equipment works properly, and that procedures are followed to maximize patient safety. Hand instruments and supplies to surgeons and assistants during an operation and perform tasks as directed, such as holding retractors and cutting sutures.

Surgical technologists prepare patients before surgery, including positioning them on the operating table and covering them with sterile surgical drapes. After surgery, they help transfer patients to the recovery room and help clean and restock the operating room.

Surgical technologists - sometimes termed operating room technologists or "scrubs" - are a key part of the team of medical and nursing practitioners that provide surgical care to patients in the operating room. This surgical team also includes surgeons, anesthesiologists and their assistants, and registered nurses. Typically, surgical technologists work in hospitals, especially in surgery operating rooms, childbirth delivery units, and recovery rooms.

Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by selecting and setting up surgical instruments and equipment and by opening up sterile supplies. They assemble, adjust, and check non-sterile equipment to be sure that everything is in place and in proper working order.

Surgical technologists also get patients ready for surgery by washing, shaving, and disinfecting incision sites. They help transport patients to the operating room, place them on the operating table, and cover them with sterile surgical drapes. They assist in connecting and applying surgical equipment and monitoring devices. Throughout the pre-operation period, they watch patients' vital signs, check medical charts, and help the surgical team in washing (i.e., "scrubbing") and then putting on sterile gowns and gloves.

During an operation, surgical technologists pass instruments, sutures, sponges, and other supplies to surgeons and other surgical assistants in an efficient way. Their duties include sharing responsibility in accounting for sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments to ensure patient safety. They help prepare and care for any specimens taken for laboratory analysis as well as apply dressings to patients as needed. Some also operate lights, sterilizers, and suction machines and help run diagnostic equipment. Throughout every surgery, they have a primary responsibility for making sure that the operating environment remains sterile at all times.

Certified surgical technologists who have additional education and training also may perform the role of surgical first assistant or "circulator." Under the surgeon's direction, the circulator provides aid in controlling blood flow and preventing or stopping hemorrhage, plus does other technical functions to help a surgeon carry out a safe operation.

After an operation, surgical technologists help transfer patients to the recovery room, and then return to clean and restock the operating room for the next patient. They also may provide support in the post-operation recovery room, especially to the anesthesia team that is involved in carefully monitoring each patient in the critical time that they are recovering (i.e., regaining consciousness) after the use of general anesthesia.

It should be noted that sometimes within an operating room, surgical technologists are further assisted by additional, specialized surgery team members who provide direct support to the anesthesia team. Anesthesia technicians and technologists assist anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and anesthesiologist assistants in acquiring, preparing, and using the equipment and supplies required to administer anesthesia.

Their duties usually include equipment maintenance and servicing, such as cleaning and sterilizing, assembling, calibrating and testing, and trouble-shooting. They also have responsibility for ordering and recording results of equipment inspections and maintenance. In the operating room, they may operate a variety of mechanical, pneumatic, and electronic equipment used to monitor a patient undergoing anesthesia in the operating room.

Anesthesia technicians and technologists generally work in the same clinical settings as surgical technologists, including operating rooms and post-operation recovery rooms. In addition, they also may accompany other anesthesia team members in intensive care units, emergency rooms, diagnostic and treatment radiology units, as well as at dental suites and ambulatory surgery centers.

Surgical technologists are key medical team professionals who require specialized training and skills. This occupation is a solid entry-level step on a medical pathway that can progress, with additional education and training, up a career ladder that can include becoming a physician assistant and beyond.

Credentials Needed: Surgical technologist currently is not a state licensed occupation, although some states are beginning to consider whether to begin to require registration or licensure. Your State Board of Medicine is the best source for updated information on this issue. A list of the names and links to the 50 State Boards of Medicine and for the District of Columbia is available at the American Medical Association - State Medical Boards .

Many employers prefer to hire and promote surgical technologists who have earned a voluntary industry-based certification that benchmarks their knowledge and skill competencies. Two widely-recognized and accepted certifications for this occupation are the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) designation offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), and the Tech in Surgery Certified (TS-C) sponsored by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). For anesthesia technicians and technologists, the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT) serves as the primary professional association and sponsor of several, voluntary industry-based certifications for benchmarking knowledge and skill competencies for this occupation.

Some Key Things to Remember: Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations under the direction of surgeons. They ensure that the operating room is safe and sterile, that equipment works properly, and that procedures are followed to maximize patient safety. They are a key part of the team of medical and nursing practitioners that provide operating room surgical care to patients.

Surgical technologists receive their occupational education and training through accredited postsecondary programs offered at public community colleges and elsewhere. Many employers prefer to hire and promote surgical technologists who have earned a voluntary industry-based certification that benchmarks their knowledge and skill competencies.

More Details
Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
15% - Faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $36,980 - $55,030    Hourly: $18 - $26
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Associate's Degree (High School + 2 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

15% - Faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $36,980 - $55,030

Hourly: $18 - $26