Surgical technologists are also known as scrubs, surgical technicians, and operating room technicians. These individuals work under the close supervision of surgeons, surgical personnel, and registered nurses. The surgical technologist is an important member of the operating team. The team usually consists of a surgeons, circulating nurses, and anesthesiologists.
Preparation before a surgery is critical. The surgical technologist prepares the room for the procedure. This person is responsible for setting up sterile drapes, solutions, and equipment. The scrub is responsible for setting up equipment that is sterile and non-sterile; it is critical that they make sure the equipment is in good working order.
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Furthermore, the surgical technologist is usually involved in getting a patient prepped for surgery. They shave, clean, and wash surgical sites. Some surgical technologists are involved in transporting the patient to the room and getting them on the operating table.
During the surgery, the scrub plays a key role. They are responsible for providing the correct instrument promptly to the surgeon. The surgical technologist works side by side surgeons to make sure that the doctors have the right tools. They also may cut sutures during surgery. Some may hold retractors during surgery, and they are also expected to keep track of sponges, needles, and other equipment. This makes sure that nothing is left inside of the patient. Other duties include taking specimens to the laboratory and disposing of hazardous material. After the completion of the surgery, the surgical technologist may help transport the patient back to their room, and then the scrub must prepare the room for the next patient.
A surgical technologist works in a well lit environment. The area is clean and fairly comfortable. The surgical technologist must be able to handle strong smells and sights. During their work, the scrub will encounter odors and sights that require strong composure. Standing for long periods of time is also required; thus, the person must have good stamina while working in the operating room.
The work schedule of most scrubs consist of regular 40 hour weeks. Occasionally, there will be some overtime, and some scrubs work rotating shifts. The hospital is open 7 days a week and 24 hours per day, so the surgical technologist may be required to work holidays and odd hours.
Training, Qualifications, and Advancement
The training program for a surgical technologist can last from 9 months to 24 months. It is possible to earn either a diploma, certificate, or an associate degree in surgical technology. Junior and community colleges offer surgical technology programs. In addition, the military, hospitals, vocational schools, and universities also offer this program.
Most programs require at least a high school diploma. Persons interested in surgical technology would do well to take math, science, chemistry, anatomy, and other similar topics in school. The surgical technology program consists of both in classroom book work and supervised clinical experience. Coursework in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, and professional ethics are among the courses offered during the program.
Sterilization techniques are also taught in the program. Students learn how to control infection and how to keep the patient safe. The surgical technologist student is also taught how to handle solutions, equipment, and special drugs.
Employers prefer to employ surgical technologists that are certified. A surgical technologist can voluntarily obtain certification from Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. This certification does require that the student graduate from a CAAHEP-accredited program. The person must also pass a national certification exam.
After completing these steps, the person is qualified to use the Certified Surgical Technologist designation. In order to keep the certification current, scrubs are required to take 60 hours of continuing education classes within four years. After four years, the surgical technologist must take the national certification exam again to maintain their certification.
Success in surgical technology requires several things. The person must be able to handle tools and equipment well. It takes considerable dexterity to be a good surgical technologist. The scrub must also be alert, organized, and emotionally stable to deal with the demands of an operating room. The surgeon depends on the scrub to act quickly and accurately. The scrub must stay abreast of current trends in surgery, and the scrub should be proactive.
According to studies in 2008, surgical technologists held about 91,000 jobs in the U.S. More than 71% of those jobs were in hospitals. For instance, many worked in delivery rooms in hospitals. Others worked in dentist and physician offices that perform outpatient surgery. Some work in ambulatory surgical centers.
According to the BLS, jobs are expected to be plentiful in this field. The increase in older people needing surgery will place a greater demand on medical facilities. A skilled surgical technologist should have no problem finding a job. In fact, a certified surgical technologist should definitely have more job prospects.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The salary for a surgical technologist is lucrative. In 2008, the median wage for this professional was more than $38,000. The middle group of surgical technologists earned between $32,000 and $46,000 per year. The lowest income earners in this study made around $27,000, and the highest paid surgical technologists took home more than $54,000 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
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