Operating Room Technician

How to become an Operating Room Technician
Operating Room Technician Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Operating Room Technicians
Operating Room Technician Salary
Influential Professionals in the Operating Room Technician Field
Leading Operating Room Technician Organizations
Top Cities for Operating Room Technician Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Operating Room Technician

After graduating high school with courses including biology, chemistry and mathematics, formal training to become an operating room technician takes place at a junior college, vocational school, university or even through the military.

Certification programs can be anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. Having a certification as an operating room technician (also known as a Surgical Technician or Surgical Technologist) will provide more job opportunities as well as a higher rate of pay compared to being non-certified.

Courses that will be required in order to obtain certification include microbiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. Upon successful completion of the certification program and the Association of Surgical Technologist exam, operating room technicians will be awarded the designation of being a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). Certification must be renewed every 4 years by either continuing education or writing of an exam. This ensures that every CST stays current in their field.

What does an Operating Room Technician do?

Hospitals employ about 70 percent of the estimated 86,000 operating room technicians working in the United States. Operating room technicians would primarily work in the hospitals operating or delivery rooms.

Many outpatient clinics provide day surgeries as a major part of their daily practice and
so there will also be growth for operation room technicians in private sector clinics as well.

Operating room technicians are involved in assisting during surgical operations. Pre-operation tasks include following strict sterilization techniques for surgical instruments and equipment along with patient care that includes washing, shaving and disinfecting the incision sites. Operating room technicians may also be involved in the transportation of the patient from their room to the operating room as well as setting them up initially for the operation.

During the operation, operating room technicians work side by side with doctors and nurses while providing sterile instruments and supplies to the surgical team as needed.

They may also be involved directly in the operation by holding retractors or preparing samples of specimens for delivery to the laboratory. Part of the job may also include the re-ordering and re-stocking of supplies from the central supply unit after a surgery takes place.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Operating Room Technician?

A basic interest in science and a desire to help people is an integral part of the job. As an operating room technician you need to have a keen eye for detail along with good manual dexterity. Being emotionally and physically able to handle stressful situations including the presence of blood is also necessary.

Operating room technicians are required to stand on their feet for long periods of time. A desire to work as an important member of a team, being dependable and committed to continuous learning and skill development are desired qualities in an operating room technician.

As a certified operating room technician, there may be opportunities for advancement by specializing in a certain area of surgery such as cosmetic or orthopedic. Familiarity with the central supply unit in a hospital is established through the constant ordering of supplies for the operating room. This also presents the opportunity for an operating room technician to advance into the position of manager of the central supply office.

How much does an Operating Room Technician make?

An operating room technician, like any other professional, makes different salaries depending upon their place of employment, geographical area and applicable skills. The median salary for operating room technicians in the United States, as of July 2006 is $37,300 annually. The middle 50 percent of American operating room technicians made between $30,300 and $43,560 in the same year. This base salary does not include benefits supplied by many employers such as health & dental insurance, sick leave, paid vacation, life insurance or a retirement savings plan.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

There are 86,000 operating room technicians currently working in the United States with a projected 107,000 by 2016.

Each of these technicians is a dedicated and hard working member of a surgical support team. There may be no identifiable influential people in this field but this is only because their work goes on behind the scenes.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) has a membership of over 50,000 operating technicians in the United States. The association is dedicated to the success of its members through education and training.

The Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology (ARC-CT) was established to review the mandates set forth by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in regards to technology and education programs for operating room technicians.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) works to establish guidelines for operating room technician certification and is essential in the soundness of the Association of Surgical Technologist exam.

What are the top cities for Operating Room Technician jobs?

As the healthcare industry continues to expand, there is a consistent demand for operating room technicians. Expected to grow faster than average, the number of operating room technicians needed between now and 2016 is expected to increase by 24 percent. The most job opportunities will be for the operating room technicians that are certified and highly skilled.

Due to the aging population of the baby boomers, operating room technicians will be in high demand over the next ten years as people are generally living longer but in turn are unfortunately expected to require more surgical procedures.

As technology evolves, there will be an increase in opportunities for operating room technicians who have been trained to use fiber optics and laser technology.

Public and private hospitals, as well as private clinics provide the majority of jobs for operating room technicians. In any city with a larger hospital, employment opportunities for operating room technicians may exist.

The states of California, Florida and Texas consistently have a high demand for operating room technicians while the cities of San Antonio, San Diego and Orlando are hot spots.

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