The medical field is a broad and growing field, in which some jobs are overlooked as options because potential workers do not know of the job’s existence. Many people think that a working in surgery requires a medical degree and years of college preparation, not to mention internships and residencies. Surgical technology is a field that makes a difference in the operating room and in the lives of patients. Employment as a surgical technologist is expected to grow exponentially with increasing numbers of surgeries. In a relatively short time, one can be working in the operating room or assisting in surgery, in the medical field as a surgical technologist.
What is a Surgical Technologist?
Surgical technologists are allied health professionals who work under surgeon supervision to provide safe surgical care to patients in different situations. They can also be referred to as surgical or operating room technicians or surgical techs. They make sure that the operating room is safe and clean and that all equipment works properly in order for a surgery or procedure to go well. The job of the surgical tech began in World War I and World War II when the army used medics because nurses were not allowed on the battlefield. The field has since evolved into what the surgical technician is today in 1973.
What is Required to Become a Surgical Technologist?
Since the surgical technologist career is in the medical field, a strong background in math and science is a must and the potential student may need to take entry level college math courses before applying to the surgical technology program. Another pre-requisite of entering the surgical field is a strong stomach and a strong mind; a surgical technician should not get queasy at the sight of blood or human organs nor should they be absent minded. They are responsible for sterilization and suturing wounds, and an oversight or lapse in judgment can have unwanted results. Surgical technologists also need to be able to remain standing for long periods of time during surgery.
A surgical technologist can obtain a two year degree, which does not require previous experience in the medical field or a 12 month certificate, which is an additional certification for those who already work in the medical field. The coursework includes general courses like human anatomy and physiology and also more specific courses including, but not limited to microbiology, aseptic techniques, surgical procedures, medical ethics and terminology. The surgical tech program also includes practical skills such as keeping cool and making quick decisions under pressure. Practical experience is gained through internships done at local hospitals to practice the skills learned in the classroom.
When searching for a school, students should make sure that the school is accredited with the Accreditation Review Committee for Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Accreditation is required for students to be sit for the national certification exam. Some schools for surgical technology include Western College, American Career College and Keiser Career College. There are many schools that have surgical tech programs in many locations. Certification must also be renewed every four years by continuing education or reexamination.
Jobs as a Surgical Technologist
Most surgical tech jobs are in the operating room ensuring sterilization or in some instances, assisting with holding clamps or retractors as well as handing instruments to the surgeons and keeping count of instruments and sponges to ensure that nothing is left in the patient. They may also specialize and only work in specific types of surgery. Other jobs in surgical technology include office jobs where day or outpatient surgery is performed. These office jobs may also include working in a dental office. Surgical technicians work a regular 40 hour week and may be required to be on call for weekends, nights or holidays.
Surgical Technologist Salary
The average salary for surgical technicians is $42,720. The wages vary with experience and training, responsibilities, hours and the economy of the area. Techs can earn up toward $61,300 and more as a result of specialization or extra training. Most surgical tech employers provide health benefits, and some provide tuition reimbursement and child care.
The field of surgical technologists is a rapidly growing field that requires a sharp mind and a desire to make a difference in the lives of patients. In two years or less, students can be certified, out in the workforce and working in a rewarding career.