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If you are considering a career as a surgical technologist, you may have some questions. We’ll answer two of the most common questions here, so if you are considering this career, please read on.

How long do I need to go to school?

Although individual programs may vary, typical surgical technology programs prepare individuals, through didactic instruction and hands-on clinical experience, to possess expertise in the theory and application of sterile and aseptic technique. The goal is to provide each student with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need for a career as a surgical technologist, so they can work closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, registered nurses, and other surgical personnel.

Some surgical technology programs divide the time by courses, others divide it by semesters, and others divide it by hours. For example, one program explains that it requires more than 900 hands-on hours of training where you will spend your time in a real operating room. It’s important to note that program participants aren’t placed directly into an operating room setting without preparation; programs include a classroom component, as well.

Programs cover a variety of topics, including anatomy, biology, medical terminology, pharmacology, sterilization techniques, and more. Programs range from several months to two years, and they grant a diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree. The right program will depend on the individual, so it’s important to do some research to find the one that seems to be the best fit.

Which certifications do you need?

Although many people may be thinking more in terms of professional certifications, the most basic certification is Basic Life Support (BLS) for healthcare providers. It covers breathing and cardiac emergencies – including CPR, AED, and obstructed airway – for adult, child, and infant patients.

However, there are professional certifications available, as well. Certification demonstrates that the individual meets the national standard for knowledge that underlies surgical technologist practice. Certified individuals possess a mastery of a broad range of skills related to surgical procedures, aseptic technique, and patient care.

There’s more than one option when it comes to certification for surgical technologists. One option, Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), is administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), and it covers the medical knowledge and skills required of competent entry-level technologists. Another option is the Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C); it’s administered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and it covers medical terminology, antiseptic procedures, and other key competencies.

Looking ahead

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. If you are exploring a surgical tech career, we’re very happy for you – and we’d love to help you find an assignment when the time comes. Give us a call at 310.436.3650 when you are ready to move on in this field. Good luck!

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