Surgical Technologists are operating room technicians. Also known as “Scrubs”, Surgical Technologists are part of an important team in the operating room who assist and ensure the success of surgeries. Operating room teams are generally comprised of a surgeon, a nurse, an anesthesiologist, and a Surgical Technologist. 71% of Scrubs work in hospitals however; there is also job opportunities in physician and dentist’s offices, as well as outpatient care centers.
With employment growing at a rate that is faster than average, Surgical Technologists can expect job security in almost any economy. The medical field continues to grow, and with the development of technology and new procedures, there are always new opportunities for Surgical Technologists. Favorable salaries and a hands-on education make this an exciting and interesting field.
Surgical Technologists can expect to earn an annual salary between $32,490 and $46,910. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Scrubs on the lowest end of the spectrum earn less than $27,510, this figure representing the lowest 10 percent. The highest 10 percent earn an annual salary of $54,300, which is the highest end of the spectrum. Salaries tend to vary based on education and work experience.*
Salaries vary, depending on the type of facility in which the Surgical Technologist works. Scrubs working in specialized hospitals earn the most, at $40,880; this figure excludes psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals. Outpatient care centers are next in line, followed by general medical hospitals, with salaries coming in at $39,660 and $38,640. Physician and dentist offices come in last, with annual salaries at $38,520 and $36,380.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Surgical Technologists assist in surgeries underneath the surgeon as part of an operating room team. They prepare operating rooms for surgeries, set up surgical instrument and equipment, and assemble equipment. Scrubs work directly with patients, prepping them for surgery. They wash, shave, and disinfect the incision site, and transport the patient to the operating room. Once in the operation room, they position the patient on the table, cover them with sterile drapes, and help the rest of the surgical team put on gloves and gowns. Once the patient has succumb to the anesthesia, they observe vital signs, check charts, and pass surgical instruments and supplies to the surgeon. They hold retractors, and count sponges, needles, and instruments to make sure everything is accounted for.
Once the surgery is over, Scrubs will prepare specimens for laboratory analysis. They wrap incision sites and transfer patients to the recovery room. Afterward, they will clean and restock the operating room. In some cases, certified technologists can receive specialized training to become the first assistant to the surgeon, or circulator. Added responsibilities come with this specialized training.
The job outlook for Surgical Technologists is very good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a field that expects faster than average growth. Between 2008 and 2018, growth of 25% is expected. Job opportunities are the best for those who receive certification, and those who are willing to relocate to meet regional demands. Hospitals are currently the primary employer; however rapid growth is expected in other healthcare industries.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Scrubs can receive training and education in a variety of institutions, including junior and community colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military. It is important that the institution be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Education Programs, also known as the CAAHEP. Training programs generally last between 9 and 24 months, at the end of which, students will receive a certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree. Before being accepted into a program, a high school diploma is required. High school students who wish to pursue Surgical Technology as a career should be sure to take classes in health, biology, chemistry, and math.
Once accepted into a program at an accredited institution, students can expects a mixture of classes in the formal classroom setting, as well as clinical experience. Classes will focus in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, professional ethics, and medical terminology. Clinical experience will teach students how to handle and sterilize surgical instruments. Students will also focus on the care and safety of patients.
Certification is important for Surgical Technologists because it leads to better job opportunities and promotion. Those who are certified have a better chance of landing a job. After graduating from an accredited institution, Scrubs can earn professional certification from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. They must also pass the national certification exam, to earn the title of Certified Surgical Technologist. To remain certified, technologists must complete 60 hours of continuing education over a 4 year period. They may also retake the certification exam after 4 years.
Another route to obtaining certification is through the National Center for Competency Testing. Passing the exam means earning the title of Tech in Surgery-Certified. To obtain certification techs must complete an accredited training program along with on-the-job training, or gain 7 years of experience in the field. They must renew their certification every 5 years.
The largest professional association for Surgical Technologists is the Association for Surgical Technologists. It is important for Scrubs and their careers to join this association. Through this professional association Scrubs will build strong connections and make contacts that will forward their careers.
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