A surgical technologist, also known as a surgical tech or operating room technician, plays a crucial role in the operating room. They are responsible for ensuring that the surgical environment is safe and sterile, and they assist the surgical team in performing procedures effectively. In this article, we will explore the duties and responsibilities of a surgical technologist in the operating room, as well as the training and qualifications required for this important role.
Duties and Responsibilities
The primary role of a surgical technologist is to assist the surgical team before, during, and after a surgical procedure. This includes preparing the operating room, arranging and sterilizing equipment, and ensuring that all necessary supplies are readily available. During the procedure, surgical technologists pass instruments and supplies to the surgeons, nurses, or other members of the team. They may also hold retractors, cut sutures, and help with the application of dressings.
After the surgery, surgical technologists are responsible for cleaning and restocking the operating room. They must also ensure that all instruments are properly sterilized and maintained. A surgical technologist’s attention to detail and ability to anticipate the needs of the surgical team are crucial for the success of any procedure.
Training and Qualifications
To become a surgical technologist, individuals must complete a formal education program in surgical technology. This can be a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program, and the length of the program can vary from 9 months to 2 years. These programs typically include classroom instruction as well as supervised clinical experience in a hospital or other healthcare setting.
After completing their education, surgical technologists may choose to become certified. While certification is not always required by employers, it can demonstrate a surgical technologist’s competence and dedication to their profession. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential, which requires passing an exam and meeting certain education and experience requirements.
The role of a surgical technologist in the operating room is essential for the smooth and efficient performance of surgical procedures. Their attention to detail, knowledge of surgical instruments and procedures, and ability to work as part of a team make them invaluable members of the surgical team. Through their training and qualifications, surgical technologists ensure that the operating room is a safe and sterile environment where patients can receive the best possible care.
How to Become a Surgical Technologist
If you are interested in becoming a surgical technologist, the first step is to research accredited programs in surgical technology. You can find these programs at community colleges, technical schools, and universities. Once you have completed your education, you may choose to become certified through the NBSTSA to further enhance your qualifications and career prospects.
What is the difference between a surgical technologist and a surgical assistant?
A surgical technologist assists the surgical team by preparing the operating room, passing instruments, and maintaining a sterile environment. A surgical assistant, on the other hand, is a more advanced role that involves assisting the surgeon during the procedure, including suturing, controlling bleeding, and handling tissues.
Is certification required to work as a surgical technologist?
Certification is not always required by employers, but it can demonstrate a surgical technologist’s competence and dedication to their profession. Some employers may prefer or require certification, and it can also lead to better job opportunities and higher pay.
What are the job prospects for surgical technologists?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surgical technologists is projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. As the demand for surgical procedures continues to increase, there will be a need for qualified surgical technologists to support surgical teams in operating rooms across the country.