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Surgical Technologist Salary Factsheet
Schools & Colleges
Education & Training
Surgical Tech Training Guide
Serious about taking up surgical technology? This guide provides an in-depth look at surgical technologist training and what it takes to become an effective and successful surgical technologist. One good thing about surgical technician training is that there are several training options open to everyone interested in joining the profession. The best thing about these options is that you don’t have to go through what surgeons had to (in terms of education costs and length of training and specialization) in order to make a difference and save lives in the operating room.
Types of Surgical Tech Training
The following are surgical technician training options available for aspiring surgical techs.
Diploma or Certificate Programs
Surgical technology is offered as a diploma or certificate program which lasts anywhere from 9 to 15 months.
Associate Degree Programs
Associate Degrees provide education and training for 2 years, after which successful students earn their degree and are eligible for surgical technologist certification.
Bachelor Degree Programs
The AST and the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) strongly suggest a BA Degree in Surgical Technology as an entry-level background for CSTs.
The Importance of Accreditation in Training
It is crucial for medicine and all its allied professions to be monitored and standardized to ensure the highest level of healthcare services and maintain (and improve on) existing medical and healthcare standards. For this reason, medical degrees and allied medical professions have national certifying examinations and training programs that are monitored by an accreditation body. In the field of surgical technology, that would be the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the ARC/STSA.
Training received from accredited schools and programs are important for two reasons, the first being that the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) – the board that administers the national certifying examinations for surgical technologists and surgical assistants – only accepts applicants for certification if they are graduates of accredited programs. While certification is not yet mandatory and there are still schools that offer surgical technology without accreditation, most hospitals are in favor of ARC/STSA Accreditation and NBSTSA Certification.
Training Components and Specifics
Like most medical and allied medical professions, surgical technology has two important training components:
Didactic (Traditional) Education, that is, classroom instruction
Covers a wide range of subjects and special topics, but contains fundamentals which include medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and surgical procedures. Methods of instruction include class discussions, lectures, modules, online classes, etc.
Externship, or supervised clinical training in hospitals
The exciting part of training comes when students are first immersed into the actual field. Most hospitals accept surgical technology externs, but only from accredited surgical tech programs. Externs do hands-on preoperative and postoperative case management with the supervision of a CST or a First Assisting Surgical Technologist.
Training after Graduation: Continuing Education Program for CSTs
Training for surgical technicians does not end with graduation and certification. Certified Surgical Technologists (CSTs) are required to take up a total of 60 units of Continuing Education Program in Surgical Technology. Certified First Assistant Surgical Technologists have higher CE requirements (75 units). These need to be documented and completed within four years after certification, in time for re-certification which the NBSTSA conducts every four years.
CSTs are indispensable members of the surgical team. They are essentially the first personnel in the operating room to make sure it is ready and fully-equipped for surgery, and the last personnel to touch the OR supplies, tools, and equipment. The success of their profession lies in the standards set during their training.
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