To become a surgical technologist, you must undergo a training program that could take 12 months to two years. The time it takes depends on the training you choose to attend and the level of specialization you wish to attain.
A surgical technologist (or a surgical technician) assists surgeons, nurses, and other medical specialists during surgery and other surgical processes. Their duties include:
- Aiding the nurses in preparing a patient for surgery
- Sterilizing equipment before surgery and ensuring its proper maintenance at all times
- Keeping the operating theatre in optimum condition
- Assisting the surgeon in moving equipment and running little errands during a surgery
- Disposing of single-use surgical equipment after the procedure
- Aiding in cleaning and dressing the patient after surgery
- Cleaning out and sterilizing the equipment and environment after a surgery
How to Become a Surgical Tech
To become a surgical technologist, you need to have a particular set of skills that will help you survive in the medical work environment. Such skills as attention to detail, ability to work under pressure, excellent communication, etc., are non-negotiables in this line of work. Hence, those who wish to become surgical techs must undergo proper training for the job. Here are the steps to becoming a surgical technician:
#1. Complete High School
Without a doubt finishing high school is a minimum requirement for most professional careers, and this one is no exception. You must earn a high school degree while taking courses like biology, chemistry, health sciences, and other related studies. In addition, signing up for volunteer programs at a hospital could boost your chances of becoming a surgical tech.
#2. Take Up a Tertiary Program
There are several options available in this category. You could choose to attend a community college, a vocational institution, or a university, depending on which falls within your means. How long it takes to complete your surgical tech program depends on the institution you attend and its program structure; this could be between 12 months to 2 years.
One of the conditions you must meet to qualify for certification is to take a tertiary program certified by either of the following bodies:
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
Therefore, you should carry out your research on the intended institutions to ensure they meet these conditions.
#3. Earn Your Certification
The next step in your journey to becoming a surgical tech is to earn an industry-recognized certification. Certification exams test you in both the theoretical and practical aspects of the job using standardized procedures and scoring schemes. In some U.S. states, you can only practice surgical technology with certification from at least one of the following bodies.
- The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
- The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
Certification courses sometimes need to be renewed after a few years to keep up with growing industrial trends. Before pursuing a certification, therefore, ensure you know its long-term requirements, including its validity, mode of renewal, etc.
#4. Getting a Job
After obtaining your certification, you can apply for positions at medical institutions, including hospitals, pharmacies, etc. It is common to first apply for internships to learn under guidance. Still, if you have some experience, you may apply directly for full-time positions.