What does a Surgical Technologists do?
Surgical Technologists, sometimes called “scrub techs” are Allied Health Professionals who assist in surgical procedures under the supervision of surgeons and registered nurses. A surgical technologist provides surgical care to patients in a variety of settings. They possess expertise in theory and application of sterile and aseptic technique and combine the knowledge of anatomy, surgical procedures and implementation of tools and techniques to assist the surgeon in performance of invasive procedures.
The surgical technologist is a member of the operating room team whose primary responsibilities are ensuring quality patient care during the operative procedure and maintaining a sterile field. The surgical technologist can perform a variety of functions depending on their work environment. They check supplies and equipment for the procedures, setting up sterile tables with instruments, supplies, equipment, and medications/solutions. They also perform appropriate counts with circulating nurses, drape the sterile field, and pass instruments to the surgeon and assistant during the procedure. Technologists must respond quickly and know the procedures well enough to have instruments ready for the surgeons. Afterwards, they prepare sterile dressings and clean instruments for terminal sterilization.
Types of Work Environments
- Operating rooms in hospitals
- Central sterile processing in hospitals
- Dental and orthodontic offices
- Private surgical facilities
- Experienced surgical technologists may return to teach future technologists
- Organ and tissue donation organizations
Education and Training Requirements
The trend today is to graduate from an accredited surgical technology training program and attain professional certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Programs may be offered in community and junior colleges, vocational and technical schools, the military, universities and structured hospital programs in surgical technology. Accredited programs vary from nine to fifteen months for a diploma or certificate to two years for an associate’s degree.
The choice to become certified exhibits pride in the profession, the desire to be recognized for mastery of scientific principles, as well as ongoing commitment to quality patient care. Certification is a means for upward mobility, a condition for employment in some areas, a route to higher pay and a source of recognition nationwide.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for a surgical technologist is approximately $48,300 per year.
Professional Organization Websites
- Association of Surgical Technologists
- The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
- Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology
- Foundation for Surgical Technology