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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.

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$ 31,000 - $ 71,000
$ 48,000
9,790+
A surgical tech assists a doctor with a patient by an operating table
As baby boomers get older, their needs for surgical procedures will grow. The job outlook for surgical technologists is expected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. (Credit: UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock)
A Day In the Life
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'My favorite part about my job is knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life,' said surgical technologist Shana Frazee.
A Day In the Life

Shana Frazee took a practical approach to learning about healthcare jobs. At the age of 20, she took a job in housekeeping at a hospital so she could see what was happening in the different departments. She shadowed a doctor and soon learned about surgical technology.

“I had never heard of one before, but I instantly became interested in the position,” says Shana.

She trained to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) and has been loving this fast-paced role ever since.

To do this job, she says you need to be highly organized, calm and having a strong backbone to deal with doctors.

“I always say it takes a certain person for this job. And honestly there aren't a ton of us around!” says Shana.

So if you want to learn about a satisfying job that keeps the surgery room running smoothly, read on.   

Job Responsibilities
  • 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 + Training

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.

 

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • Are a good listener and communicator
  • Are detail-oriented
  • Can maintain focus
  • Have good dexterity
  • Are calm under pressure

Surgical Technologist Training in Your Area

Coordinates

Surgical Technology, A.A.S

Neosho County Community College
Chanute (42.2 Miles)
Hutchinson Community College logo

Surgical Technology Certificate

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)
Hutchinson Community College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S.

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)
Oklahoma City Community College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S.

Oklahoma City Community College
Oklahoma City (156.7 Miles)
North Arkansas College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S.

North Arkansas College
Harrison (157.4 Miles)
North Arkansas College logo

Surgical Technology Certificate

North Arkansas College
Harrison (157.4 Miles)
University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S.

University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
North Little Rock (248.8 Miles)
Des Moines Area Community College logo

Surgical Technology Diploma

Des Moines Area Community College
Ankey (338.2 Miles)
Northeast Community College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S.

Northeast Community College
Norfolk (354.2 Miles)
Amarillo College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S.

Amarillo College
Amarillo (366.5 Miles)
Amarillo College logo

Surgical Technology Certificate

Amarillo College
Amarillo (366.5 Miles)
Western Iowa Tech Community College logo

Surgical Technology, A.A.S

Western Iowa Tech Community College
Sioux City (374.1 Miles)

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