The Steps You Can Take to Become a Surgical Tech

Become a Surgical TechHave you ever imagined yourself in the operating room, helping provide cutting-edge healthcare to patients? It might be time to consider a career as a surgical technologist.

Operating room techs play a specific, critical role in the operating room. Not sure how to become a surgical technologist? At Carrington College, our Associate Degree in Surgical Technology streamlines the process and provides the education and training that could help you pursue a position as a surgical tech.

Operating Precision — Surgical Technologists

Precise, detail-oriented and dedicated — these are just a few words that can be used to describe surgical technologists around the world.

What Level of Education Is Required to Become a Surgical Tech?

Most healthcare facilities require operating room techs to have some form of post-secondary certificate or degree. This verifies high-level, targeted training in sterilization, patient transport and other essentials.

In many cases, it can also be advantageous to seek additional certifications or credentials in surgical technology. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, for example, provides the opportunity to become a Certificate Surgical Technologist (CST).[1]

Carrington College prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee students will successfully pass these exams, be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program.

Carrington College’s Surgical Technology Program

Carrington College’s Surgical Technology program provides students with the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for employment as entry-level surgical technologists. Upon completion of the Surgical Technology program at Carrington College, graduates will be able to:

Cognitive (Knowledge)

  • Explain the eligibility criteria required to successfully complete the National Certification Exam for Surgical Technologists.
  • Apply the knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and pharmacology as it relates to a variety of surgical procedures.

Psychomotor (Skills)

  • Practice the correct solutions in applying aseptic techniques in a variety of clinical environments.
  • Apply safe practice techniques with the handling of instruments, surgical supplies, and direct patient care in the surgical and sterile processing environment.
  • Demonstrate the consistent application of surgical consciousness in the clinical setting.

Affective (Behavior)

  • Explain the value of accountability, competence, and character in a surgical technologist in the healthcare environment.
  • Demonstrate the importance of critical thinking and communication in the surgical setting as a member of the healthcare team.
  • Connect the impact of social competence, professionalism, and ethical values to display respect and advocacy for the surgical patient, healthcare team, and the college as expected from entry-level healthcare professionals.

Responsibilities and Roles of a Surgical Tech

Before you begin an Associate Degree in Surgical Technology at Carrington College, you will want to understand the different roles and responsibilities of an operating room tech.

Knowing Your Role in the Operating Room

First and foremost, it’s important that you know your role during a surgical procedure. As an operating room tech, you play a pivotal role in the procedure — but you also should not be disruptive or intrusive. You are not meant to be guiding the process or dictating the procedure, but rather ensuring that all equipment is ready and assisting when needed.

Operating Room Prep

Surgical technologists are primarily responsible[2] for preparing the operating room. This involves acquiring all equipment that will be needed for the procedure and verifying that everything is in working order before the medical team arrives for surgery.

Sterilization

As a surgical tech, one of your primary responsibilities will be sterilizing all equipment prior to the procedure, maintaining a sterile environment during the surgery and cleaning up when the surgery is complete. How well you perform this function as a surgical tech will be critical[3] to helping prevent the spread of infection at your facility. A whopping 4 percent of hospital patients[4] end up acquiring a new infection while hospitalized, so the importance of this aspect of this role cannot be overstated.

Patient Transport

Surgical techs also have an opportunity to work directly with the patient, providing them with care during potentially one of the most stressful moments of their life.

A meaningful piece published in the journal The Surgical Technologist reveals just how important this is, explaining the need for displaying compassion while “interpreting and understanding the patient’s feelings.”[5] Patient transport to and from the operating room may be the responsibility of the surgical tech, giving you a moment to connect with the patient and reassure or advocate for them if necessary.

Post-Surgery Cleanup

After the procedure is complete and the medical team has moved onto their next patient, the surgical tech is responsible for cleaning and sterilizing the operating room. This helps to streamline the workflow in the hospital and plays a critical role in managing the surgical caseload.

Potential Career Paths for a Surgical Tech

Your daily life as a surgical tech may vary based on your specific employer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[6] highlights several compelling environments in which surgical techs can work, such as:

Hospital Operating Rooms

The most common place where surgical techs find employment is at hospitals, which is where both elective and emergency surgical procedures are performed.

Outpatient Centers

Outpatient centers are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among patients undergoing elective or cosmetic surgery. In many cases, patients can have simple procedures performed for a lower cost when they have them completed at an outpatient center.

Doctor’s Offices

In some cases, surgical techs may be employed by doctor’s offices that are equipped with small surgical facilities. If you work in an office setting, you will probably participate in shorter, simpler procedures, but you would likely have more control over the type of procedures that you are involved with daily.

Different Specializations

There are opportunities to specialize as a surgical tech.[7] Most often, surgical techs who choose to specialize do so to accommodate a passion or interest in a given area. For instance, you may choose to specialize in pediatric procedures because you enjoy working with children.

Some of the most common surgical tech specializations include:

  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Cardiology Surgery
  • Organ Transplant Surgery

Your Career as a Surgical Technologist

Your career as a surgical technologist could take you from the center of the operating room straight into the hearts of your patients. You will have an opportunity to play a unique role in caring for patients undergoing procedures while assisting surgeons as they navigate the complexities of the human body.

Request more information about how to become an operating room tech with an Associate Degree in Surgical Technology. Visit our Student Consumer Information page for important information on program outcomes.

  1. “CST Certification.”  The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.
  2. A. Verma “How To Become a Surgical Technician (With Helpful FAQS).” Indeed.
  3. K. Bonanthaya, et al. “Operating Room Protocols and Infection Control.” Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for the Clinician.
  4. R. Harris. “Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die.” NPR.
  5. J. Zamudio. “Emotional Intelligence and the Surgical Technologist.” The Surgical Technologist.
  6. “Surgical Assistants and Technologists.” Occupational Outlook Handbook. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  7. A. Santiago. “What Is a Surgical Technologist?” Verywell Health.

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