Surgery is one of the most exciting and competitive medical specialties that offers a high level of personal and professional satisfaction. Surgeons perform complex surgeries and provide the best possible medical treatment in order to save the patients’ lives. Surgical technologists are the important members of the surgical team that play a key role in making a surgery successful. These professionals, also known as operating room techs, surgical techs, and scrub techs.
Surgical technologists work closely with the team of doctors, anesthesiology, nurses, and patients to provide the best possible and sterile surgical treatment. Becoming a surgical technologist is easier compared to other medical professions. You don’t need to complete four years of education or gain clinical experience to become a surgical tech.
If you are thinking of choosing this multi-skilled medical career, here is a detailed guide on how to become a surgical technologist, education requirements, job duties, and career opportunities.
Let’s delve into details of becoming a surgical technologist.
Unlike other medical careers that require four years of schooling and clinical experience to join the medical field, becoming a surgical technologist is easier. Many surgical tech programs take 12 to 24 months to complete. You can either choose to get a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. Students who don’t have enough time to complete the program, enroll in a one-year surgical tech program that offers a certificate and diploma. You don’t need to take general knowledge courses or electives, as these programs only focus on surgical technology.
Unlike a diploma or certificate, an associate’s degree usually takes 18 to 24 months to complete. While pursuing the degree of surgical technology, students are required to take coursework in general science, English and math. Many technical schools and universities offer associate degrees in surgical technology.
In order to enroll in a surgical technologist program, students are required to complete a high school diploma. Candidates must complete important courses such as biology, English and a special course in CPR. Many surgical tech programs require students to gain some hands-on experience with patients.
Courses include in a Surgical Tech Program
Enrolling in a surgical tech program gives students an opportunity to take courses that give you clinical, real-life experience. You will take basic courses such as anatomy, physiology, surgical procedures, sterilization techniques, pharmacology for surgical tests and much more.
What Surgical Technologists Do?
Surgical technologists or operating room techs are responsible for performing a variety of tasks. Since surgical technologist is an entry level medical profession, they are required to follow the instructions given by surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and surgical first assistants. Here is a list of tasks surgical technologists are responsible for performing:
- They make sure the operating theater is prepared before the surgical procedure starts.
- They check carefully whether all essential medical supplies are there that will be required during the surgery.
- They sterilize medical equipment, instruments, and patient’s incision site and ensure everything in the operating room is clean and sterile.
- They move patients from the ward to the operating room, prepare them for the procedure and disinfect the incision site.
- They help doctors, medical professionals and other team members throughout the surgery – from the beginning till end.
- They calculate all the medical instruments and tools to ensure no supplies are contained in patients.
- They are responsible to connect drains and tubing, operate suction machines, or prepare specimens for analysis.
- They are responsible for dressing the incision site, transferring patients to the recovery room and preparing the operating room for the next surgery.
Career Opportunities for Surgical Technologists
With the advent of more advanced tools and medical equipment, surgical operations are occurring more frequently. The field of surgical technology demands more technologists to fulfill the job responsibilities. According to a survey, the 7% increase in employment opportunities is expected to be observed by the end of 2029. As a surgical technologist, you will find career opportunities in hospitals, as it is the most popular place of employment. Furthermore, surgical technologists can also find job roles in doctor’s clinics, outpatient care centers, and dentist’s clinics. There are various organizations that provide online career resources for job opportunities.
Traits of a Surgical Technologist
Surgical technologist is a demanding job, you are responsible for working for long hours. They need to develop a number of traits and skills to perform the job. Here is a list of skills surgical technologists should possess:
- An active listener
- Strong communication skills
- Stress management skills
- A critical thinker
- Comfortable working with the surgical team
- Detail oriented
- Oral and speech comprehension
- Time management skills
- Medical software skills
- People skills
- Good observer
How to Become a Surgical Technologist?
Students interested in pursuing a career as a surgical technologist should be aware of all the important steps required to become a surgical technologist. It takes 12 to 24 months to become a surgical technologist. You can enroll in a two-year degree program that provides a solid foundation in surgical technology and hands-on experience. Here are the most important steps you need to take when pursuing a career as a surgical technologist.
- Earn a high school diploma as it is the prerequisite for surgical technologist programs. In high school, you will take important courses such as biology, anatomy, and other science subjects.
- Enroll in an associate degree program which takes approximately two years to complete.
- Once you graduated from high school (four years) and obtained an associate degree (two years), it is advised to gain some hands-on experience. You can shadow a surgeon, gain internship opportunities or find other options to gain some hands-on training.
- You can also prepare for the surgical technologist certification exams to make yourself eligible for better career opportunities.
- After getting a certification, graduates are eligible to find surgical technologist jobs in hospitals, dental offices and other healthcare settings.
Whether you want to enroll in a best medical school to pursue a career as a surgeon or choose an easier path to become a surgical technologist, it is advised to stay determined to succeed in your chosen career.