September Healthcare Professionals Celebration - Surgical Technologists

Suzan Miller-Hoover DNP, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K
Surgical Technologist

The surgical technologist, also called surg tech, scrub tech, surgical technician, or operating room technician, is an allied health professional working as a part of a multidisciplinary team delivering surgical care. The surgical team consists of a surgeon, surgeon's assistant, circulating nurse and anesthesia provider (Explorehealthcareers.org, 2018).

Surgical technologists work under the delegatory authority and supervision of the surgeon unless prohibited by state law or hospital policy (Explorehealthcareers.org, 2018).

As part of this team, the responsibilities of the surgical technician include:
  •   Prepare operating rooms
  •   Sterilize equipment and ensure adequate supplies for surgery
  •   Ready patients for surgery
     o   Transporting patients
     o   Positioning patients
     o   Disinfecting surgical site
     o   Draping patient
  •   Assist surgeons, first assistants, and RNs during surgery
  •   Count supplies and instruments
  •   Maintain a sterile environment
(Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019), the projected job growth for surgical technicians is great, projecting a 12% increase in demand for qualified surgical technicians in the coming years. Consider these statistics:
Hiring Requirements
  •   Associate degree
  •   Postsecondary nondegree award
  •   Detail oriented
  •   Dexterity
  •   Integrity
  •   Stamina
  •   Stress-management skills
Number of Jobs (2016)
  •   107,700
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)
  •   12,600 or 12%
Median Salary
  •   $47,300
Place of Employment
  •   Healthcare facilities: 71%
  •   Outpatient facilities: 11%
  •   Physician offices: 11%
  •   Dentist offices: 4%
Surgical technologists are supported through membership in the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). As the oldest and most widely recognized professional organizations for surgical technologists, AST's primary purpose is to ensure that surgical technologists possess the knowledge and skill sets to administer the highest quality of care for every patient (Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), 2019).

Surgical technologists who desire certification:
  •   Must graduate from a program accredited by the:
     o   Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or
     o   The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  •   Be trained in a military program

The surgical technologist may choose to be certified by:
  •   The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
     o   Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)
  •   The National Center for Competency Testing
     o   Tech in Surgery – Certified or TS-C (NCCT)

Both avenues for certification require documenting critical skills, passing an initial exam, and completion of continuing education to maintain certification (AST, 2019).

The job of surgical technologist is not for the faint of heart. Long hours spent standing, moving equipment and patients while maintaining aseptic and/or sterile conditions is demanding on the physical well-being of these important members of the surgical team. However, the rewards of the profession include making a valuable contribution to surgical team and patient outcomes.

Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). (2019). Web page. Retrieved from: https://www.ast.org/

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Surgical Technologists. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/surgical-technologists.htm

ExploreHealthCareers.org. (2018). Surgical Technologists. Retrieved from: https://explorehealthcareers.org/career/allied-health-professions/surgical-technologist/

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