Your reasons for being interested in surgical technology are many, and far exceed the fact that you look darn good in a surgical mask! Your aptitude has always pointed toward a hospital OR, and with proper accreditation and training, it won’t be long before you land one of the more coveted jobs in allied healthcare. After all, surgical technologists (ST, or if certified, CST) are, according to the **U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, enjoying a career projected to grow 30 percent by 2020!
Not only are surgical technology jobs growing faster than average, they also pay well considering that the training lasts anywhere from months to just two years—not bad for a median annual income of $41,790. So, what makes for a sharp surgical tech? You “operate well” under pressure, and are invaluable to the surgeon and rest of the OR team. You’re more about giving surgeons what they need, not merely what they’ve asked for, and you can stand on your feet forever with good humor intact. You’re highly organized, detail oriented, good with your hands and committed to helping patients reach the most positive clinical outcomes; and because surgical techs do so much of what registered nurses do, it can lead to some head scratching on what the differences are.
Surgical Techs (CSTs) Are Different from RNs, But Equally Critical! Here’s a Look at What CSTs do!
Because surgical technicians perform their duties after scrubbing in, there exists the misnomer “scrub nurse.” While it’s true that CSTs and RNs perform many of the same tasks, i.e., prepare the operating room, sterilize the environment before and after all surgical procedures and assist the surgeon during operations, the surgical technologist receives a shorter training than a registered nurse, and is trained strictly for the OR.
Surgical techs need strong backs to transfer and position patients, clean the surgical suite once the surgery is completed, and do basic documentation afterward. Washing and disinfecting incision sites is not for the weak of heart; these allied health professionals have seen it all—as to be expected when it’s their job to keep track of instruments while providing hands-on assistance to the surgeon.
The healthcare team depends on the surgical tech to prepare sterile solutions and medications that will be used in surgery, assist in dressing other members of the surgical team, and do a flawless job in ensuring that everything is working properly. Pressure much? And yet, all surgical technology humor aside, these allied health professionals love what they do!
Future CSTs Need More than the Aptitude, They Need the Education
It’s easy to find nationwide CST degree programs that will prepare you to seek accreditation and licensure from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, National Surgical Assistant Association, or the American Board of Surgical Assistants. You must also pass a certification exam at the end of your schooling, but to be on the “cutting edge” of allied healthcare jobs inside of two years? Oh… that is wonderful!