How to Become a Surgical Technologist

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On a daily basis, many different surgical procedures are conducted for a variety of purposes. The success of a surgical procedure depends on the collaboration of many different medical personnel. Surgical technologists are valued members of the medical team that provide assistance to surgeons and other healthcare professionals.


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What does a surgical technologist do?

Surgical technologists assist in surgical procedures while being supervised by surgeons, registered nurses, and other members of the surgical team. They help prepare the operating environment prior to a procedure by setting up surgical instruments and equipment. They also prepare patients for procedures by bathing, shaving, and disinfecting the sites where incisions will be made. Surgical technologists transport patients to and from the operating room, assist in positioning them, and cover them with sterile drapes. They also help the surgical team put on their sterile gloves and gowns and observe the vital signs of the patients and check medical charts. During procedures they pass instruments and tools and help operate equipment.

What kind of training does a surgical technologist need?

Surgical technologists usually complete formal training programs that lead to a diploma, certificate, or associate degree. The programs consist of classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience. Coursework usually includes anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, medical terminology, and professional ethics. Surgical technologists must keep up date with the latest advancements in the field.

Most employers prefer surgical technologists to be certified. Voluntary professional Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification can be earned from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. The requirements include graduating from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and passing a national certification exam. Certified Surgical Technologists must complete continuing education and pass a reexamination every 4 years to maintain the certification.

What are the prospects for a career as a surgical technologist?

Employment of surgical technologists is projected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 24% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increase in surgical procedures and technological advances will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for surgical technologists that are certified. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace surgical technologists who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do surgical technologist make?

As of October 2009, the middle 50% of surgical technologists earn average annual salaries between $36,184 and $44,188. The top 10% earn average annual salaries of more than $47,986 (2).

A career as a surgical technologist is a great choice for individuals interested in assisting in a variety of surgical procedures. Surgical technologists must be familiar with operating procedures and must have a quick response to the needs of medical personnel. Conscientiousness, emotional stability, and orderliness are essential to handle the demands of the operating environment. They also need good manual dexterity to handle tools and instruments safely and quickly.

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