Sterile techs work behind the scenes, but their work is critically important in any healthcare setting. Continuing education is important for them, as it is for people who work in other aspects of healthcare.
What does a sterile tech do?
Sterile processing technicians are not directly involved in patient care, so many patients are completely unaware of them or the important work they do. However, they are responsible for many important duties related to keeping patients healthy and safe, including decontaminating, cleaning, processing, assembling, sterilizing, storing, and distributing the medical devices and supplies needed in patient care, especially during surgery.
Sterile tech classes and training programs cover these and other topics necessary to achieve certification in this field. The programs are not limited to theory; they include practical application of concepts and procedures to ensure that the sterile processing tech is prepared for this essential role in patient safety and infection control.
Why is continuing education important?
Many people assume that once a student has mastered these concepts and skills, no more education is required. However, in the sterile processing field, as in other healthcare fields, continuing education is very important. For sterile techs, it must cover all areas of their education, as well as any emerging areas for the profession. It keeps certified individuals abreast of changes in the industry, new and emerging technologies, and policies that directly impact their duties.
In fact, continuing education is so important that professionals in this field must achieve recertification after five years. The time period is significant because it is considered to be the usual period for a significant change in technology/knowledge for the profession.
Other benefits of continuing education
Although these benefits of continuing education are important, there are other benefits, as well. The additional benefits include increased productivity, work quality, promotability, job satisfaction, and customer satisfaction, as well as reduced turnover rates. When many people think about continuing education in healthcare, they focus on how it benefits patients, but it is clear that continuing education in this field benefits the sterile processing technician, as well.
Finally, continuing education benefits the patient and the sterile processing technician in another important way: it gives the sterile tech the confidence to know that his or her skills are current. This is important because it enables the sterile tech to be a strong contributor to the healthcare team to provide the patients with the best care possible.
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