What Does a Surgical Technologist Do?
If you aren’t squeamish and the idea of being in an operating room interests you, consider becoming a surgical technologist. Also called surgical assistants, operating room technicians or "scrub techs," they are critical members of a surgical team that includes a doctor, anesthesiologist and circulating nurse. Surgical technologists prepare the operating room before the surgery takes place. They also arrange medical equipment and assist doctors during surgical procedures. This includes routine operations as well as emergency procedures.
Surgical technologists work primarily in hospitals and outpatient care centers.
- Prepare the operating room for surgery
- Maintain a sterile environment
- Pass instruments and other supplies to surgeon during surgery
- Set up robotic surgical equipment
- Count and keep track of all surgical instruments during surgery
- Take inventory of supplies
- Maintain records of procedures
Education beyond high school is required for surgical technologists, but it can take many forms. Many community colleges, vocational schools, universities and hospitals offer accredited surgical technology programs that range in length from several months to two years. That could result in a certificate, associate degree or diploma. Coursework includes anatomy, microbiology and physiology. Students also learn about patient care, safety, sterilization techniques, how to set up equipment, and infection prevention and control. In addition to classroom study, students gain hands-on experience in supervised clinical settings. Many surgical technologist programs are accredited by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Certified Surgical Technologists (CST) earn additional certification, and continuing education is necessary to maintain it.
- Are a good listener and communicator
- Are detail-oriented
- Can maintain focus
- Have good dexterity
- Are calm under pressure