A career in surgical technology really begins in high school by taking and passing courses in science and mathematics. In a formal college education environment, a career as a surgical technologist requires that you enroll in a program with a duration of nine months to two years. Individuals on a two-year schedule are eligible to receive a certificate or an associates degree. Hospital based surgical technology programs last from six months to one year and are for licensed practical nurses or other health based professionals with a medical related background. Certification is not always required but is accomplished by passing an examination after completion of the course. The best way to learn more about the rapidly growing field of surgical technology is to contact your local vocational college to ascertain what coursework is available.
Classroom study and clinical experience constitute the surgical technology training programs; anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, physiology, professional ethics and medical terminology are studied, as well as sterile techniques, surgical procedures and patient care and safety. Practical skills such as how to sterilize instruments, handle drugs and equipment and prevent and control infection are also studied.
Individuals in surgical technology who are certified have a competitive edge over those who are not as most employers prefer certified professionals, re-certification is required every four years by retaking the exam or by accumulating continuing education credits.
Advancement in surgical technology comes about from specialization in certain types of surgery, like open heart or gastrointestinal procedures. Circulating members of surgical technology are the “non sterile” part of a surgical team and perform tasks such as: recording information from the surgery, interviewing the patient and documenting their medical history, retrieving non sterile packages for physicians to retrieve the sterile contents inside and keeping them informed about the patient.
First assistants in surgical technology help with more hands-on practices including putting in stitches, sponging, closing wounds, cauterizing bleeders and retracting. Some members of the surgical technology group become managers of hospital supply departments or move into medical insurance, supply companies or equipment manufacturing and supply.
The job outlook in surgical technology is good with a twenty-five percent increase in jobs over the average growth rate of all professions. This figure comes about due to the increasing head of population living longer and thus demanding more operations, plus, the advances in technology such as laser technology and fiber optics also bring in new operating room procedures and thus more jobs in the operating room.
It is highly recommended to consult with an accredited technical school that offers a robust surgical technology program for aspiring individuals looking to get started in a fast paced, exciting new career that has a promising future in the healthcare field.