What Does a Surgical Technician Do? Surgical technicians serve as an integral part of the operating room team. They work under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, and other surgical personnel.
Before an operation even begins, the surgical technician is working to prepare the operating room. After setting up and testing the function of the surgical equipment, the surgical technician is ready to prepare the patient. Duties at this point include transporting the patient, preparing the skin for an incision, and monitoring the patient’s vital signs. During the operation, the surgical technician assists the surgeon by passing the requested tools, holding retractors in place, and by collecting specimens for the lab. After the operation, the surgical technician is responsible for transporting the patient back to the recovery area, cleaning up the operating room, and restocking supplies as necessary.
Surgical technicians enjoy the possibility of working in a broad area of surgical areas, although many choose to specialize. Opportunities exist in all settings and nearly all types of surgeries, including oral and maxillofacial.
Although it is technically possible to be hired without being certified, most employers prefer to hire certified surgical technicians. Programs leading to certification can last anywhere from 10 to 24 months.
Successful surgical technicians typically have a high level of manual dexterity, calm demeanor, and are capable of working in a high stress environment.
Advancing in this field requires solid experience. Advanced opportunities include working in neurosurgery, heart surgery, or even working as a first assistant to the surgeon (if qualified). These positions require a high level of technical expertise along with some advanced training.
Employment and Job Outlook
The majority of surgical technicians work in hospital operating rooms, although many work in private surgical practices that offer outpatient surgeries. Jobs for surgical technicians is expected to rapidly grow, possibly by 25% over the next 10 years. Opportunities will be especially good for mobile and certified surgical technicians. These increased opportunities are predicted due to the expected high volume of surgeries needed as the population continues to age. Furthermore, surgical technicians are very economical for hospitals as they can do the job of certain operating room staff for less money.
The salary that a surgical technician can expect varies with the field in which the technician is working. The following figures serve as rough guide:
- Dental Office: $36,000
- Physician’s Office: $38,500
- General Hospitals: $38,500
- Outpatient Care Centers: $39,500
- Specialty Hospitals: $41,000
These are basic salary estimates and do not include possible benefits such as vacation, insurance, or retirement benefits.
Picture yourself in an operating room. The patient is lying on the table while a machine breathes for them, making a steady, rhythmic beep. The room is full of nurses and doctors clad in scrubs. The head surgeon turns to you and barks “Scalpel!” You entered the room earlier to prepare all of the necessary equipment. You know your tray is full of ordered, sterile tools, and you know exactly which scalpel the surgeon needs. You pick up the scalpel, hand it to the surgeon, and the surgery begins.
If that sounds exciting to you, consider training as a surgical technologist. You can complete your training in several months or take two years to earn an associate’s degree, depending on the program you enter. After you are trained in surgical technology, you can a growing field that allows you to be a valued member of surgical teams responsible for saving patients’ lives. You will be able to make a difference in your community while providing for your family.
Most programs require only a high school degree to start training. You will learn anatomy, medical terminology, and biology. Surgical technology classes offer clinical training to ensure you are ready to start working the first day you start a new job. You will be fully trained in sterilization and preventing infections. Although certification is not required, you can become certified after passing an exam or working in the field for a year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for surgical technologists is expected to grow 19 percent by 2020 in response to the aging population. Although most technologists work in hospitals, some also work at outpatient surgery centers, doctors’ offices, or dentists’ offices. Work schedules vary, with some positions requiring nights, time on call, or long shifts. Surgical technology requires a strong stomach and the ability to handle blood, bodily fluids, and gore.
Working in surgical technology gives you the opportunity to learn about the human body and the human psyche. You may be responsible for interviewing patients before surgery or giving post-surgery instructions. You will participate in a variety of surgeries and work with nurses and doctors on a regular basis. Surgical technology is an excellent stepping stone to advanced medical positions or a good career for compassionate individuals looking for excitement. If you can handle the gore, the training, and the long hours, you can enjoy working in surgical technology.
People looking for a recession proof job, interested in health care, need look no further than a surgical technician program. These specialized assistants help the surgeon during an operation. This career enjoys good pay, job security and satisfaction. Let’s take a look.
This is an excellent question and an even greater career that is worth a close look. The surgical technician is responsible for setting up the instrument pack for a surgeon, and then assisting them with the surgery. It is a highly specialized field and is resistant to economic changes.
How to Become a Surgical Technician?
There are degree and certificate courses in surgical technician training. Many students prefer to start out with the certificate program due to costs and time savings. Certificate programs teach the basics and can be completed in one year. Surgical technician schools are usually part of the community college systems. There are some basic prerequisites but, these vary depending on the school. The application process for surgical technician programs can be extensive. Waiting lists to get into the surgical technician classes is common.
Surgical Technician Employment
Surgical technicians are an integral part of operating teams across the nation. They are the ones that assist the surgeon during an operation. Their knowledge and skill are indispensable. Employment can be found in hospitals and out-patient surgery clinics. National averages place technicians with one year degrees between $25,000 and $35,000 per year. Those technicians with Associate’s Degrees can expect offers in the $40,000 to $75,000 per year. Employment opportunities are extensive in most areas. Surgical technician careers are associated with steady employment, lucrative salaries and long term job satisfaction.
What to Expect from a Surgical Technician Job
A Surgical technician job is not without difficulties. Technicians will spend long hours standing while assisting with surgery. They are required to be on call for emergencies. It is not unusual to be awakened at 2 am and have to go in and help with a surgical case. Weekends, nights and holidays have to be covered just like the weekdays. Outpatient surgical units do not do emergency surgery. Schedules are more stable, and holidays, weekends and nights are not required at most centers.
Technicians have to develop a positive rapport with the other staff. They are responsible for setting up the equipment pack prior to surgery. They must understand and predict what the surgeon will need to complete the operation. They interact with all members of the surgical team. They must be organized and detail oriented. Accuracy is the key to success.
A surgical assistant plays an important role in aiding a primary surgeon and ensuring the care of a patient. In some cases, these individuals may work in general surgery, and other times they may work in a specified field such as ophthalmology or trauma. While the exact duties can vary depending upon the types of medical procedures, there are some primary job duties of a surgical assistant.
One of the most integral aspects of this job is preparing the patient and operating room for surgery. This typically includes making sure equipment and tools are sterilized, and organizing equipment and tools so they are easily accessible before surgery begins. It’s also up to a surgical assistant to transport a patient to the correct room and place the patient in the necessary position. He will usually perform a briefing and explain to a patient exactly how the surgical procedure will go down. If the patient has any questions, it’s also his job to answer them to the best of his ability. He may also interact with family or friends of a patient and fill them in on the process.
Throughout the surgery process, it’s the responsibility of a surgical assistant to follow all orders of the main surgeon. This might include handing him tools, inserting drainage tubes and a variety of other tasks. Besides this, he may be required to perform additional sterilization on certain types of tools during the course of a surgery. In the event that something goes wrong, it’s also a surgical assistant’s job to help resuscitate a patient. Since the lives of a patient are in the hands of a surgeon and surgical assistant, he must be familiar with a number of safety protocols and be able to make quick decisions.
After each surgery is finished, he will usually be required to place dressings on a patient’s wounds and make sure that bleeding is under control. He will need to re-stock any supplies like bandages or other disposable items that were used during surgery. Along with this, it’s up to him to sterilize equipment and make sure that all sanitation standards are adhered to.
In addition to the technical aspects of this job, a surgical assistant may be required to perform various office duties. This is mainly for individuals who work in physician’s offices, and may include keeping track of patient information, answering telephone calls and sending faxes.
What is a Surgical Assistant?
A surgical assistant, also referred to as a first assistant or surgical technologist, is a healthcare professional who provide assistance to surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other staff members in the operating room. Some specialize in specific areas such as cardiac surgery, orthopedic surgery, or obstetric surgery. Individuals aspiring to become surgical assistants complete training in a health care field and a surgical assisting program.
Surgical Assistant Duties
A surgical assistant performs a variety of tasks before, during, and after surgical procedures. Prior to surgical procedures, a surgical assistant prepares operating rooms, preps patients, and obtains and tests equipment needed for the operation. During procedures, he or she assists surgeons by maintaining a sterile environment, handing over instruments, and applying bandages. After a surgical procedure, a surgical assistant often monitors patients during the post-operation recovery period.
Surgical Assistant Training
Training to become a surgical assistant generally takes one to two years to complete, as many institutions of higher learning offer certificate and associate degree programs. The programs provide intensive classroom and hands-on training. Course topics required by the programs often include anatomy and physiology, surgical assisting procedures, pharmacology, surgical pathophysiology, medical ethics, and patient care. Majority of surgical assistant programs require students to have a prior degree in a related field such as a Bachelor of Science or an associate’s degree with at least three years of related work experience. Military surgery experience or prior certification may also be suitable for some programs. Students are also required to carry liability insurance and be certified in CPR. Majority of employers prefer individuals who have completed a program from an institution that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or the CAAHEP. Programs accredited by the CAAHEP usually range from 10 to 22 months.
Students who have completed surgical assistant training programs are prepared to obtain professional certification. This certification is optional, but a lot of employers prefer it. In general, there is no single credential at the national level, but various organizations offer many options such as the American Board of Surgical Assistants’ Surgical Assistant-Certified or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting’s Certified Surgical First Assistant. Many certification programs require surgical assistants to complete regular continuing education to maintain their certifications and stay up to date on emerging surgical practices and other developments in the medical field.
A surgical technologist performs a variety of responsibilities before, during and after surgical operations. Surgical technologists are also referred to as a surgical assistant or operating room technician, depending on the employer. They prepare an operating room for surgery by sterilizing and setting up the appropriate equipment. They also prepare patients for surgery, then assist surgeons and other medical professionals in an operating room during surgical procedures. Being a surgical assistant requires a strong attention to detail, dexterity and the ability to stand for long periods of time in an operating room. Surgical technologist careers start by attending one of many surgical technologist schools.
Surgical technologist programs generally require a highs school diploma to start training. Coursework in surgical technology general includes sciences, health, anatomy and medical terminology. Students also receive practical training sanitizing and preparing different types of surgical tools and equipment. Completion of training in surgical technology results in a diploma or associate’s degree and generally takes about two years to complete.
Although requirements for surgical technologists vary greatly by state, employment opportunities can increase for those who obtain the surgical technologist certification administered by The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Other nationally recognized organizations, such as the National Healthcare Association also offer additional credentials. Surgical technologist schools prepare students for each state’s credentialing and the national certifying exam during their last few weeks of training. Surgical technologist certification generally requires renewal every few years and continuing education.
Employment opportunities for surgical technologists are expected to increase about 19 percent, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth is expected due to advances in medicine and technology, making surgical procedures safer and less complicated. Employment of surgical technologists will also reduce costs for medical facilities, because other occupations that assist surgeons often pay higher wages. Advances in technology allow surgical technologists to perform the responsibilities that were once performed by other health care professionals with higher degrees.
Surgical technologists not only work in hospitals, but physician’s offices, outpatient care centers, dental offices and for a variety of other health practitioners. Faster, less-evasive surgical procedures allow patients to complete surgical procedures and return home the same day. A surgical technologist salary generally starts between $14 to $16 per hour, according to BLS. The average salary is about $21 per hour. Surgical technologists with experience and credentials can earn over $24 per hour, and continue to increase their salary.