Surgical Technician Career Options

Do you want to work in a time-honored health care field? You might think about becoming a surgical technologist, an allied health professional that is an integral part of a surgical team. Surgical technologists work under medical supervision to help surgeons conduct surgical procedures. The surgical technician’s role is to ensure safety in the operating room environment, including noting whether equipment is functioning properly and that the patient is under optimal conditions for the surgery.

The Role of a Surgical Technician

Surgical technologists gain expertise in the theory and application of sterile and aseptic techniques and combines a knowledge of human anatomy, surgical procedures and the tools and technologies available for any surgery to help surgeons complete a successful surgery. As such, the surgical technician can take on many roles.

Graduates of accredited surgical technology programs are eligible for certification by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Once an individual has graduated from an accredited degree program and has obtained the proper certification, he or she will be qualified to perform the following job duties:

  1. Checks supplies and equipment needed for surgical procedure
  2. Sets up sterile table with instruments, supplies, equipment, and
    medications/solutions needed for procedure

  3. Performs appropriate counts with circulator prior to the operation and before
    incision is closed

  4. Gowns and gloves surgeon and assistants
  5. Helps in draping sterile field
  6. Passes instruments, etc., to surgeon during procedure
  7. Maintains highest standard of sterile technique during procedure
  8. Prepares sterile dressings
  9. Cleans and prepares instruments for terminal sterilization
  10. Assists other members of team with terminal cleaning

Types of Surgical Technicians

The scrub surgical technologist handles instruments, supplies and equipment necessary during a surgical procedure. This person must have knowledge on how to drape a sterile field, on which instruments to use for the procedure and to hand the correct ones to the surgeon during the procedure, and must know how to set up and clean up an operating room for each surgical procedure.

The circulating surgical technologist’s role is similar to the scrub surgical technologist, but this person has more interaction with the patient. The circulating surgical technologist helps make the patient comfortable, checks the chart and identifies the patient, assists anesthesia personnel, keeps accurate records during the procedure and more. This person also assists in cleaning the operating room and prepping for the next patient.

The second assisting technologist assists the surgeon and/or the first assistant during the operation by carrying out technical tasks other than cutting, clamping and suturing. The second assistant may hold retractors or instruments as directed by the surgeon, may sponge or perform suction, may cut suture material as directed by the physician and cal apply dressings to a closed wound.

These roles and their expanded definitions can be found at the American College of Surgeons or the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). Both sites, especially the latter, hold plenty of information for anyone who wants to become a surgical technician.

You may learn as well that the roles of surgical technicians may vary by state and even among medical facilities. Some environments may grant more responsibility than others, depending upon your education, training and certification. In most cases, surgical technologists work in clean, well-lighted, cool environments. They must stand for long periods and remain alert during operations. At times, they may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant sights, odors, and materials. Most surgical technologists work a regular 40-hour week, although they may be on call or work nights, weekends, and holidays on a rotating basis.

The role of the surgical technologist began on the battlefields in World War I, when the Army used “medics” to work under the supervision of field surgeons. So, if this is your chosen field, you are entering into a time-honored tradition. A career in surgical technology can be exciting, with many options to choose from.

Online Surgical Technician Degree Programs

Ultimate Medical Academy Ultimate Medical Academy — Ultimate Medical Academy offers several online programs in the healthcare industry. These programs include Health Science specializations in Healthcare Technology & Systems and Pharmacy Technician as well as programs designed for administrative rolls in healthcare like Medical Billing and Coding. Students will be prepared to work as technicians in a variety of settings. Click Here
Purdue University Purdue University — Apply for this school's associate degree in Health Sciences: Surgical Technologist to achieve a strong foundation in surgical technology. This course is ideal for a fast and flexible solution to your online degree as you earn an entry-level education that concentrates on helping students acquire knowledge and develop skills in performing laboratory, clinical, and medical office procedures. Purdue also offers degrees in Medical Assisting and Health Science. Click Here

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