Becoming a Surgical Technologist: A Look At Surgical Tech Schools

More and more Americans today are finding that the profession of surgical technology is a rewarding and fulfilling one. In fact, it is expected for the surgical technology field to grow by about nineteen percent in the next ten years. There is a lot of demand for surgical techs and in order to become one, a person needs to undergo a training program. Thus, it is important to know more about surgical tech schools.

The Surgical Tech Program

A surgical technologist must firstly abide by the rules set by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) and American College of Surgeons (ACS). This means that they must undergo a training program which is accredited by AST and ACS. Depending on the school, the duration of the training varies. There are surgical tech schools that only take about nine months to complete the program. There are others that offer an associate level degree or a certificate in surgical technology. In this case, a person must decide which type of program he wants to join—if he wants the more comprehensive one which takes a bit longer or the less comprehensive one which takes less time. Some people choose to take the less comprehensive program, especially if they already have a little background in the medical field.

The main goal of surgical tech schools is to equip the surgical techs with the necessary knowledge and skills they need in order to provide surgical care to their patients. This includes teaching their students the fundamentals of physiology as well as anatomy. This is because they need to understand, even on a basic level, the procedure is done in the operating room to be able to assist the surgeon effectively. Scrub techs assist the surgeon by preparing the needed instrument and equipment for the operation. In line with this, they are given hands-on training for sterilization techniques and also instrumentation set up. For those that undergo the more comprehensive program, the surgical tech schools may give them more coursework which focuses on medical terms and health law and ethics.

Once they finish all the required coursework and hands-on training, they also undergo unpaid internships which immerse them in real life operations and they become a part of a professional surgical team. This is a great way of honing the skills needed in order to become a qualified surgical tech. One a person is complete with all these training and graduates from the program, he still needs to take the surgical technologists examination in order to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). Most hospitals require their surgical techs to have a certification before they get hired.

The process that aspiring surgical technologists undergo may sound a little tedious, this is a fact.  But without a doubt, all their hard work will pay off at the end once they are able to land stable jobs and start earning a surgical tech’s salary. Not only will it be financially rewarding, but the impact they give to the patient’s healthcare will also give them a personal sense of accomplishment.

Why Become a Surgery Technologist?

Due to the recent economic crisis, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have experienced a complete financial reversal. Even those who seem to have stable jobs from big corporations were not spared when the financial climate in the United States hit rock bottom last 2008. As a result, a lot of Americans tried to shift careers and undergo employment training to do so. And one of the most common professions that Americans shift onto is the surgical technologist profession. For those interested in becoming one, here is some basic information on what their jobs description is as well as the surgery tech salary.

What is a surgical technologist?

A surgical technologist is an allied health profession which plays a huge role during surgery. A surgical technologist often referred to as a surgical technician or scrub tech, assist during surgical operations under the supervision of a surgical nurse, a senior surgical tech, or a surgeon. A surgical tech plays an important role during surgery as he is responsible for the smooth flow of the procedure by making sure all the necessary equipment and instruments are prepared even before the operation starts. He ensures that the operating room is up to standard in order to ensure the patient’s safety. Indeed, surgical tech plays an important part in the treatment of the patient and makes a difference in a person’s life. For those who are seeking a job which gives a sense of fulfillment, a job in a medical field such as a surgical tech will give just that.

How to become one?

Since a surgical tech is given a lot of responsibilities during a surgery, he needs to be equipped with the knowledge and skills he needs in order to treat his patient successfully. But one does not need to worry spending years and years in school studying or spend thousands of dollars in tuition. Anyone aspiring to become a surgical tech is only required to attend an accredited course which only takes 9 months to 15 months. Other hospitals may require an associate degree or certificate which usually takes 2 years to complete. This is the reason why a lot of people enroll in these short courses—in a matter of months, he or she can start working as a surgical tech and start earning a new living. The prices of these training are reasonable as well, ranging from $17,000 to $30,000.

How much does it pay?

This is another reason why a lot of people choose to become surgical technologists—the surgery tech salary. The average surgery tech salary in the United States is $49,000 per year. The salary depends on the state a surgery tech works in. There are states that pay higher than this such as in Maryland and California. However, there are those that pay lower, such as in Arizona and Alaska.

Choices Of Surgical Technician Schools

If you want to get started in the right direction in becoming an operating room technician, your best bet would be surgical technician schools. This is where your knowledge and skills in surgical technology will be developed and honed to its fullest; so that once you start your career you will be able to perform your duties and responsibilities as a member of the operating room team. Keep in mind that this occupation requires a high level of proficiency and competency considering that lives are on the line during an operation. Therefore it is vital that you find a school that will best fit your needs and guides you towards the road to success.

It is critical that you take your time when it comes to choosing a surgical tech school. What you want to look for is one that has an excellent reputation and track record. You can take advantage of the internet to do an online search for schools in your area – those listed on the first page of search results would make a good starting point. Make sure you browse through their websites thoroughly so that you can find out as much information as you can about them. One of the things you should go through is the type of degrees or programs they offer and what courses are included. It is very important that their course outline includes some sort of hands-on or clinical training.

As with any other school, you should also verify if the training programs they are offering are duly accredited. Accreditation for surgical technician training programs is granted by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This is important not only to ensure the legitimacy and quality of the program you are enrolling in but also to make you eligible for advancement opportunities in your career. Many employers nowadays choose to hire applicants with the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) title, which is acquired by passing a certification exam. You can only take this exam if you have undergone an accredited training program.

Since the internship is an important part of any surgical tech curriculum, you must verify which schools offer placement as interns. This will make sure that you won’t have any problems acquiring the much-needed work experience that is required by virtually every employer these days. Of course, you would also have to make inquiries about the tuition fees and the admission requirements of the school you want to get into. Often times, schools with bigger reputations and better success history will have higher tuition fees and have stricter admission requirements so as to maintain their education quality and reputation. Location of the school is also a factor worth considering.

If you are worried about your financial capacity in getting to quality surgical technician schools, you may want to find institutions which offer financial aid or scholarship programs. This is where enrolling in CAAHEP-accredited programs become beneficial – you may be able to qualify for a scholarship offered by the Foundation for Surgical Technology. There are also some schools which offer online training programs – these are relatively more affordable as compared to their offline counterparts and allow those with time constraints to still pursue their dreams of becoming an operating room technician. Just make sure that the online training program you will enroll in is also duly accredited by the CAAHEP.