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Surgical Technician


How to Become a Surgical Technician
Surgical Technician Job Details
Skills and Qualities of a Surgical Technician
Surgical Technician Salary
Influential Professionals in the Surgical Technician Field
Leading Organizations for Surgical Technicians
Top Cities for Surgical Technician Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Surgical Technician

Surgical technicians assist with surgical operations. They prepare the patient for surgery, pass instruments to the surgeon, and work under the supervision of the attending supervisor.

Surgical technicians receive education in formal community and junior college programs, as well as vocational schools and medical universities, with the normal result being a BA, Masters or PhD. These programs are often a combination of supervised clinical trials and more traditional classroom education.

Courses in physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, anatomy, professional ethics and medical terminology are mandatory for potential surgical technicians. Other areas covered in a surgical technician's education should include the safety and care of patients during surgery, sterilization techniques and various surgical procedures. Potential surgical technicians also learn the importance of preventing and controlling infection as well as handling special drugs necessary for surgery. They also learn about solutions, supplies and surgical equipment.

Professional certification may be necessary for employment in some states. Surgical technicians can get a voluntary professional certification. This must be from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. To do so they must graduate from a CAAHEP-accredited program as well as pass a national certificate examination. Then they are allowed to use the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) designation. To maintain certification, which is to be renewed every 4 years, a surgical technician must continue their education.

A similar but more distinct certification can also be acquired from the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). To qualify for this exam, surgical technicians must follow one out of three routes; the completion of an accredited training program; undergo a 2 year hospital on the job training program; or acquire experience working in the field (at least 7 years). After the examination has been passed, surgical technicians can use the designation Technician in Surgery-Certified, TS-C (NCCT). This certificate is to be renewed every 5 years in a similar fashion to the CST certification above.

What does a Surgical Technician do?

Surgical technicians assist in various surgical operations, always under the supervision of professional surgeons, registered nurses or other more senior surgical personnel. Surgical technicians are members of an operating room team, along with the surgeon performing the operation, the anesthesiologist and the nurses.

Surgical technicians are primarily responsible for preparing the operating room for procedures by setting up the instruments and equipment a surgeon will need, as well as setting out sterile drapes and solutions. They will also check all necessary equipment to ensure that it is working properly.

Surgical technicians are also responsible for getting patients ready for surgery. They do this by washing, shaving and disinfecting incision sites. They then transport patients to the operating room, place them on the operating table and cover them with sterile surgical drapes in order to decrease the chance of infection.

During the beginning of surgery, technicians will observe the patient's vital signs, check charts and help the surgical team put on sterile gowns and gloves. Throughout the surgery, technicians hand instruments and other sterile equipment to surgeons and their assistants. Afterwards, they will help process specimens taken for laboratory analysis and help with dressing the surgical site. Some surgical technicians will operate other operating room equipment during surgery, for example various types of diagnostic equipment, lights, sterilizers and so on.

After a surgical operation is complete, surgical technicians may help with the transfer of patients to the recovery room before then cleaning and restocking the operating room for the next scheduled procedure.

In essence, a surgical technician handles all preparatory and conclusive procedures in an operating room. As a technician, they are responsible for the day-to-day effectiveness of the various types of equipment, both surgical and otherwise, that occupy an operating room. They must also see to the continuing sterility of the operating environment, for the safety of both the surgeons and the patients themselves.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Surgical Technician?

A quality that surgical technicians will require is good manual dexterity in order to be able to handle instruments quickly and diligently. They must also be conscientious, orderly and emotionally stable. The latter is an important requisite in any person who must handle the emotional stresses of the operating room environment, and as such is vital for a surgical technician.

Surgical technicians must have swift response times, especially during the course of a surgery, and they must be exceedingly familiar with standard operating procedures. This is important because surgical technicians are expected to think ahead and have the instruments ready for use without the surgeon having to ask. In some cases delay could actually prove very serious for the patient. In a surgical procedure there is no room for either second-guessing or errors of any type.

They are also expected to keep themselves well informed of any new developments in the field of surgical procedure and technology. As technology changes, new equipment and methodology may become available, and it is the surgical technician's job to see that their operating theater is up-to-date and prepared for any situation that may occur.

How much does a Surgical Technician make?

The average earnings for surgical technicians in the US are $36,080 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The most highly paid surgical technicians can expect to earn more than $51,140 per year. The average surgical technician earns between $30,300 and $43,560 per year. The lowest paid surgical technicians earn less than $25,490 a year.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

There are many experienced professionals among the ranks of surgical technicians, nationwide. For example, Sherri Alexander, the current president of the Association of Surgical Technologists and clinical coordinator for the Clarian Health System is an excellent Surgical Technician.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The Association of Surgical Technologists is the leading surgical technician organization, representing over 55,000 surgical technicians nationwide.

The Foundation for surgical Technology is the non-profit wing of the AST, providing hundreds of scholarships for prospective students.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting are responsible for the certification exams for prospective surgical technicians.

What are the top cities for Surgical Technician jobs?

Rockford, Illinois tops the list of the highest paying cities for surgical technician jobs. Bethesda, Maryland is a close second, and Oakland, California is third in line.

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