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What Are the Differences Between Surgical Techs and Sterile Techs?


What exactly do surgical technologists and sterile techs do? Are these two jobs the same, or do the duties overlap? There can be a lot of confusion about this, but the names can be very helpful in eliminating many of the questions about these jobs.

It can be helpful to keep in mind that the surgical technologist works in the operating room with the surgeon and the rest of the surgical team. The sterile tech makes sure that instruments and other equipment for the healthcare environment are sterile.

Education and Training

Although the jobs are different, there are some similarities in how surgical technologists and sterile techs are educated and prepared for their positions. A high school diploma or GED is required, and both programs include a combination of classroom and laboratory training.

There can be a significant difference in terms of the length of the program. A surgical technologist’s program may last anywhere from nine to 24 months, and the program for a sterile processing technician may be completed in a few weeks to six months.

To work with any of the jobs through 365 Healthcare Staffing, all sterile techs and surgical techs need one year of paid experience to be eligible for a potential placement.

More about Sterile Techs

Sterile techs are sometimes known as sterile processing technicians. Think about all the germs around us; now think about how important it is to maintain sterile equipment in a healthcare environment. Sterile techs do that. In this way, they play a vital role in maintaining the cleanliness, functionality and inventory of health care instrumentation and equipment. In addition to helping patients stay healthy, this function allows hospitals to run better and more efficiently.

In addition, they also deliver the equipment to wherever it is needed in the hospital. This may include the emergency department, intensive care unit, labor and delivery unit, operating room and other areas of health care facilities. As a result, their work impacts nearly every department within modern hospitals and surgical centers.

More about Surgical Techs

Surgical technologists, also called operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment and help doctors during surgeries. Most surgical techs work in hospitals, but they can be employed in doctors’ offices, clinics or anywhere outpatient surgery is performed.

The surgical tech’s job isn’t limited to the operating room. The tech gets a list of what’s needed for the particular procedure and makes sure it’s all avilable before the surgery. This list also includes details regarding the surgeon’s personal preferences and whether they’re right- or left-handed – the doctor’s dominant hand helps determine how the room is organized.

Are You a Surgical Tech or Sterile Tech?

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. We know the differences between surgical techs and sterile techs – and we know how important these positions are in healthcare. If you are seeking a position in either field, we’d love to talk with you. Give us a call at 310.436.3650 today.