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Super Admin      Jan 27, 2024

Your How-To Guide On Becoming A Surgical Technologist

Are you someone who thrives in high-pressure environments and has a passion for patient care? Look no further than the dynamic and rewarding field of surgical technology. As a surgical technologist, also known as a surgical tech, operating room technician, or surgical assistant, you play a vital role in the healthcare profession.

What is a surgical technologist and why is it a promising career choice?

Surgical technicians, also referred to as surgical techs, ensure that everything in the OR (Operating Room) runs well. They set up the operating room (OR) for surgery, assist the medical staff and the surgeons during the procedure, and clean the space afterward.

Human anatomy, surgical process principles, and the proper use of sterile methods are all things that surgical technicians need to master. They serve as a surgeon's right hand and facilitate successful operations by removing obstacles and glitches.


In today's fast-paced world, the demand for skilled professionals in the operating room is higher than ever before. Surgical technologists assist surgeons and nurses during operations by preparing sterile instruments and equipment, ensuring a safe and sterile environment for both patients and medical staff.

But what sets this career apart from others in healthcare? One word: versatility. Surgical technologists have the opportunity to work across various specializations such as general surgery, orthopedics, neurology, cardiovascular surgery, and more. This means that every day brings new challenges and learning opportunities.

Step 1: Understanding the role of a surgical technologist

The responsibilities of a surgical technologist include setting up operating rooms, getting patients ready for surgery, and helping during and after the procedure. 

Before an operation:

Prior to the surgical procedure, surgical technologists concentrate on sterilization and preparation, which encompasses the following tasks:

  1. Sterilizing the equipment and the operating room.
  2. Assisting in the preparation of the patient for surgery.
  3. Collecting, tallying, and organizing the equipment and surgical instruments required for the surgery.
  4. Readying patients for the procedure.

During an operation:

During the surgery, surgical technologists also assume various crucial responsibilities, including:

  1. Maintaining the sterility of the operating room.
  2. Handing surgical instruments to both the surgeon and the surgeon's assistant.
  3. Aiding in the retraction of tissues from the surgical patient.

After an operation:

After the surgery, surgical technologists contribute to the conclusion of the procedure and are accountable for:

  1. Ensuring an accurate count of all tools and instruments utilized during the surgery.
  2. Applying dressings to surgical sites.
  3. Proper disposal of needles and gauze.
  4. Sustaining the sterile environment of the operating room until the patient is transferred to the recovery area.

Step 2: Education and certification requirements for becoming a surgical technologist

Educational Requirements

Obtain a GED or high school diploma:

The minimal educational need for surgical tech programs is often a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED. By completing scientific and health-related classes in high school, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy, you can prepare yourself for post-secondary studies.

In order to learn further about surgical technologists and obtain experience in a medical setting, it is equally beneficial to look into internship opportunities at nearby hospitals or outpatient clinics while you are still in high school.

Complete a surgical technologist training program:

Enroll in a surgical technology postsecondary program at a community college, university, or trade school. Students who complete these courses often receive a clinical associate degree, certificate, or diploma. Depending on the curriculum you choose, it can take you 12 - 24 months to finish. To enable you to pursue certifications after graduating, look for degree programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) when you are examining your options. These programs adhere to the industry standards.

In many surgical tech programs, classroom instruction is supplemented with clinical practice. You learn about surgical techniques, surgeries, and surgical instruments and their usage during your training,


NCCT (National Center for Competency Testing) Certification

You must provide documentation (proof of completion) proving that you have successfully completed an authorized surgical tech program in order to obtain NCCT certification, also known as Certified TS-C (NCCT). A transcript from your surgical tech program as well as a valid GED or high school diploma are also required.

You must submit a Critical Skills Competency form to the organization in order to take the certification exam. Remember that you don't always have to turn in your paperwork before the exam. But unless you deliver these records to NCCT, you won't receive the certification.


NBSTSA (National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Certification

Surgical technicians must also successfully finish an accredited associate degree program to meet the requirements for NBSTSA certification. You must submit your documentation, along with the application form, to the NBSTSA. Approximately six weeks later, you will receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) from the organization.

Alternatively, you have the option of expediting the process by paying an extra fee, which will allow you to receive the ATT letter within three to five business days. Subsequently, you will need to take and pass the exam to obtain your certification.

Step 3: Developing essential skills and qualities for success as a surgical technologist

You will need a mic of technical and soft skills, such as proficiency in sterilizing procedures and the capacity to work well under pressure in order to thrive as a successful surgical tech. While working in a high-stress, fast-paced setting, you also spend time socializing with the patients and your colleagues. You can deal with these problems thanks to your talents, enabling you to do your work efficiently and securely.

Technical skills:

Surgical techs require in-depth familiarity with surgical techniques and tools. For example, you’ll need to be able to recognize hundreds of medical equipment and supplies. During surgery, you must swiftly choose the appropriate instrument when the physician requests it. Further technical competencies that are prerequisites in this field of work include:

  • Thorough understanding of sterilization and safety procedures for operating rooms
  • The ability to provide comfort and care for the patients
  • The ability to carry out CPR and other essential life-saving procedures.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of vital signs
  • A strong grasp of physiology and aseptic techniques
  • Proficiency in medical terminology.

Soft skills:

A good surgical tech also possesses some specific interpersonal abilities that aid in managing the pressures of work and interacting with others. When problems emerge during surgery or when transferring patients to and from the operating room, it is critical to be able to listen to and interact with others. In addition to the attention to detail, the following qualities are also a must:

  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Ability to work well alone and with a team
  • Critical thinking
  • Dexterity
  • Organization
  • Stamina
  • Time management

Step 4: Gaining hands-on experience through clinical rotations and internships

Starting a career in the medical field is both, thrilling and demanding. Aspiring surgical technologists are aware of the value of practical experience in enhancing their knowledge and skills. This is where surgical tech internships and clinical rotations come into play. Through these experiences, aspiring surgical techs can observe firsthand the hectic setting of hospitals and surgical facilities. What’s truly invaluable is the opportunity to collaborate with seasoned experts like surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists. Their knowledge and guidance offer a special learning opportunity that cannot be matched by merely learning through textbooks and lectures. Interns get the opportunity to observe operations up close while learning about various tools, equipment, and safety procedures during clinical rotations. Additionally, they gain soft skills like cooperation and good communication, which are crucial when dealing with patients and healthcare professionals. Plus, these experiences connect the dots between theory and practice, making students more confident and prepared for their future in healthcare.

Briefly said, clinical rotations and internships in surgical technology provide prospective healthcare professionals with an unequaled learning experience. Students get adequate knowledge with boosted confidence for their chosen sector by being immersed in genuine medical settings under the supervision of experts. Beyond just paving the way for successful careers, these opportunities contribute to better healthcare outcomes by nurturing competent and skilled individuals who are bound to become future leaders in their profession.

Embark on your journey as a skilled surgical technologist today!

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