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Career Advice for Up and Coming Scrub Techs

There are several career opportunities in the operating room since it takes a team approach for procedures to run smoothly. Several professions, from nurses to surgeons, scrub techs, and sterile techs, are all needed.

Scrub techs are a vital part of the surgical team and are responsible for several crucial functions in the operating room. To help you excel in your scrub tech career, we explain the key functions of a scrub tech and offer practical tips for career success.

Role of the Scrub Tech

Scrub techs, also known as surgical techs, have several roles as part of the operating room team. Fortis College explains that these roles may include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring all necessary tools and equipment are sterile and ready for procedures
  • Helping the provider and other team members scrub in and put on sterile items
  • Positioning the patient to ensure their comfort and safety
  • Assisting the provider as necessary during procedures
  • Helping make sure the sterile field is maintained
  • Cleaning up after procedures and accounting for materials used

Given all of their important job functions, the scrub tech is vital to ensuring the behind-the-scenes operations of procedures run smoothly.

Key Attributes of a Scrub Tech

Scrub techs need to maintain several key attributes to excel in their role. One of the most important attributes of a scrub tech is their sharp attention to detail.

A scrub tech’s attention to detail is vital throughout procedures. For example, a scrub tech helps ensure a sterile field for patient safety. If the sterile field is broken or contaminated, it poses an infection risk for patients.

Scrub techs also help track equipment used during procedures. For example, they may count the pieces of gauze and other materials at the beginning of a procedure and then count them again at the end to ensure nothing was left inside the patient.

Scrub techs also maintain awareness of provider preferences. One surgeon may prefer a particular type of sutures for a procedure, and another may like a different kind of sutures. An astute scrub tech will note which surgeon prefers which sutures and make sure the preferred sutures are available.

Another critical attribute of a scrub tech is the ability to speak up and advocate for their patients. There may be several individuals involved in a patient procedure. And one of the roles of the scrub tech is to help maintain a sterile field. If a scrub tech notices that the sterile field has been broken, they must respectfully speak up and notify the team.

A third attribute is the ability to be a team player. Working in healthcare means working as part of a team. This is especially true for careers in the operating room. It takes several different team members for procedures to run smoothly, and each role is vital.

Lastly, a scrub tech needs to be flexible. Procedures can go longer or shorter than planned, there can be complications, and additional equipment may be needed. Patient conditions can change quickly during procedures, requiring the scrub tech to be flexible and adaptable based on the patient’s and surgeon’s needs.

Educational Requirements for a Scrub Tech

There are several educational pathways to becoming a scrub tech. CNI College explains that programs can be a diploma, certificate, or part of an associate’s degree program.

Once an individual has completed their program, applying for and taking the certifying exam is advised to become a certified surgical technologist. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers this exam. The NBSTSA offered two certifications: the certification as a surgical technologist (CST) and the surgical first assistant (SFA).

Once an individual has passed their certification exam, they can use CST or SFA after their name, depending on which exams they passed.

According to the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), 18 states currently require certification to work as a surgical technologist or scrub tech. This list is only expected to grow for surgical techs (aka scrub techs). So, even if you don’t live in a state that requires certification yet, it is still an excellent idea to pursue certification.

Pursuing certification ensures you’ll be ready if your state eventually passes legislation requiring certification. Additionally, it can make the process smoother if you move to a state requiring certification.

Next Steps

Scrub techs are an in-demand healthcare career that plays a vital role in the operating room. If you are considering a career in healthcare and would like to work in the operating room, consider the role of scrub tech.

And if you’re an experienced scrub tech interested in seeing other hospital work environments or using your job to help you travel, consider a role as a contract scrub tech. 365 Healthcare Staffing Services is a respected healthcare contract staffing agency that would love to help you match your strengths with the right contract role.

Check out their open positions and contact their team with any questions. As a national company, they have several opportunities throughout the United States.