What is a surgical technologist?
This is a medical professional who works in an operating room and makes sure that it is safe and clean before each operation is done. They are also referred to as an operating technician. The surgical technologist is part of the surgical team and will typically support any medical personnel, including nurses and physicians that are going to be part of the patient’s operation. A surgical technologist is also known by other names like OR Tec, Certified Surgical Technologist, Surgical Scrub Technologist, or Surgical Technician. Many times they are called “Scrubs”. A surgical technologist is a very important part of the surgical team.
One thing to remember before entering in the medical field that a surgical technologist is on their feet most of the day so you need to make sure that you are comfortable doing this.
Job description of a surgical technologist
When working as a surgical technologist one of their most important jobs is to try and anticipate or predict the next action of the surgeon to help make the surgery go as smoothly and easy as possible on the patient and medical team. Before the each surgery, especially the first one of the day, that the operating environment is safe for the patient and surgical team along with it being clean sterile. They will also need to make sure that all the equipment is operating correctly and making sure that all the supplies that they will need is there in the operating room.
Because a surgical technologist is an assistant to the surgeons they are also responsible for making sure that the instruments they will be using for each particular operation that they are doing that day is laid out before each surgery. They will stay near the tray of instruments during the surgery in order to be able to hand the nurses and surgeons the instruments that they need. A surgical technologist may also be asked to how various apparatus such as a light near the incision so the surgeon can see better. They may also have to operate suction and sterilizer machines.
A surgical technologist will also prepare the patients for the operations such as making sure they are comfortable, that the area where the operation is going to be done that it is shaved if necessary, disinfecting the area where the surgeon is going to operate, etc. They will also clean the incision points, and apply dressings. They may also have to bring the patient to the operating room, get them into position on the operating table and cover them with operating drapes. They may have to help move the patients to the recovery room after the operation.
A surgical technologist will also help the nurses and surgeons into their sterile gloves and gowns. Being a surgical technologist you will also be required to wear sterile gowns and gloves along with booties on your shoes and a cap covering your hair. Another job that the surgical technologist might have to do is read the charts for the surgeon if the surgeon has a question about the patient or surgery to be done and monitor the patient’s vital signs. After the operation it may be the surgical technologist to count the small medical instruments used, sponges used, and gauze used so there is no chance that they will be left in the patient.
As you see there are many different things that a surgical technologist is responsible for so you need to be quick on your feet and able to be where you are needed when the surgeon or nurses need you along with making sure that the operation room is ready for the next patient. It is a job where you will be constantly on the move most of the time and about the only time you will have a chance to sit and relax is on your breaks and lunch. A surgical technologist should be quick with responses and have good dexterity. You must also be emotionally stable and be able to handle situations without getting emotionally involved.
How to become a surgical technologist?
To become a surgical technologist you will need to enroll in the surgical technologist diploma program which can be found at hospitals, junior and community colleges, universities, vocational schools and the military. Just make sure that where you enroll for the surgical technologist program that it is accredited.
This program will teach students to assist surgeons, nurses, and other medical personnel in the operating room by teaching the student:
- How to handle and identify surgical tools like scalpels, clamps, sutures, and suctions.
- How to prepare patients for surgery
- How to manage the operating room before, during,, and after a procedure
- How to assess and help solve any operating room complications that might arise
- How to sterilize equipment used in the operating room by using hands-on techniques
- How to communicate effectively with the surgeon, registered nurse, other medical personnel, and the patient.
- How to perform vital and supportive assistance during surgery
- How to protect themselves from being infected with communicable diseases
The student will also learn about infection control and patient care. During the program the student can gain valuable experience in various surgical specialties like cardiothoracic surgery orthopedics, gynecology, urology, and neurosurgery. To complete the surgical technologist diploma program can take the student approximately 12-18 months.
In order to enroll in the program you will only need a high school education but there are some surgical technologist diploma program that are intended just for health care professionals with an undergraduate degree. This undergraduate degree must be in applied health science. The students may also need to complete some prerequisite coursework in math, physiology, medical terminology, and anatomy along with some working experience in a volunteer or paid capacity. When it comes time to participate in practicums there are some schools that will require the student to have a physical abilities assessment, background check, and drug testing.
The student will learn how to become a surgical technologist through coursework, practical experiences, and lab studies. During this program some schools may require extensive supervised time in an operating room to apply learned procedures and just for observation to see how things are done in an operating room. The clinical educational part of the program will typically emphasize the practical skills that will be necessary for being a surgical technologist. Some of the courses that the student might cover can include surgical sterilization, microbiology, patient care, surgical procedures, and medical ethics and laws.
Once the student has graduated from an accredited program and having either on-the-job training or work experience the student will be able to obtain certification from the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) after passing the certification exams. When you pass the examination you will have the title of Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C). In order to maintain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential of Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) the surgical technologist will have to have the required amount of continuing education classes. The surgical technologist can also continue their education to earn a bachelor’s or associate degree in surgical technology.
Work environment and schedule
Most surgical technologists are employed at hospitals and will be assigned the surgeons that they will be helping each day. There may some surgeons that prefer to work with certain surgical technologist so when they have surgeries to do they would ask for that particular surgical technologist. There are some that are employed in dental offices, outpatient-care facilities, or doctor’s offices.
Although surgical technologists work in environments that are clean and sterile they still need to be careful when working with surgical instruments that when handing them to the nurses and surgeons that they do not cut themselves or other medical personnel. They also need to make sure that they are cautious when working around patients as some could have a potentially communicable or even deadly disease. Most of the time the medical professionals will know beforehand if this is the case with the person they are operating on but sometimes the patient does not even know. Working in an operation room you may find yourself seeing some unpleasant sights, bodily materials, and odors so you need to make sure that you can handle these things and that the sight of blood does not make you faint.
The hours of a surgical technologist will vary as to where they work. If they are employed by the hospital this means that you will work when needed. You may work days, nights, split shifts, holidays, weekends, and could even be on-call. It is even possible that your place of employment will rotate shifts between their surgical technologists so everyone shares the hours needed to work evenly. In addition, there is no “set” time for an operation to be over because complications can happen or it is just taking longer because the surgeon found something else that must be done before the surgery is over with so there may be days that you are working 12 hour shifts or longer. You need to make sure that you are always alert and ready for anything during the operation.
Pros and cons of being a Surgical Technologist
The job of a surgical technologist assumes a variety of daily tasks that differ on a regular basis. If this is one of your dream jobs, then you’ll be able to work very well with your hands since this job involves this skill.
The best rewarding in this field is when you help people that are confronting themselves with illnesses or diseases that find their solving through surgical procedures. Those who are hurt can solve their problems or their health condition after they’ve had a surgical procedure that helped their damages been repaired.
The con that could rise can be the job activities that mainly are fulfilled very fast. Situations can be very difficult and sometimes emergencies and unexpected events can have a very stressful effect upon you. In these kinds of situations, you must be able to think quickly and find quick solutions.
The daily tasks that are present in this job will assume on your part to stay in an operating room most of your day. Emotionally and physically this job can get to be pretty demanding, and you’ll see things and you’ll be exposed to sounds that are not always very pleasant.
Completing a training program can offer you the best seats in this job. Those who prosper in the field of surgical technologists are those who fulfilled the educational requirements, who already have gained the necessary years of experience working with patients and other health care professionals.
There are various types of programs, and the length of one of these trainings will constantly vary. The good message is that you’ll have the classroom work, and you’ll combine it with some hands-on experience and instruction in the sterilization procedures and all the techniques that could be found.
This field also offers some great advancement opportunities and the growth in this job can be seen due to the aging population that needs some certain surgical procedures in order to solve their health procedures.
Surgical Technologist job growth
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment growth is projected at almost 15% rate of increase. The best job prospects can be fulfilled by those surgical technologists that have already completed an accredited surgical technologist training degree program. The number of demanding is increasing gradually, so there is always a need for these professionals.
More and more illness, injuries and health problems are now treated through surgery due to the advances that were made in the medical technology. The job is very rewarding since you are able to see the outcome and bring a good change into the lives of many patients.
Surgical technologist salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average annual salary is $44,420 but what helps to determine the salary is the level of education, whether the surgical technologist is certified or not, years of experience, geographical location, and where they are working. The lowest 10% of surgical technologists made an average annual salary of $30,450 while the highest 10% of surgical technologist made an average annual salary of $61,300 and above. The 3 highest paying states are Nevada, Hawaii, and California with the average annual salary at more than $54,000.
Working in a university or specialty hospital a surgical technologist can make up to $47,900 on average per year. For a surgical technologist just starting out their average annual salary would be $26,179-$51,521.
In addition to the surgical tech salary there is also the benefit package that can include paid vacation and sick days, paid holidays when you are off but paying double when working, dental and vision care, life insurance, health insurance that may cover the family, 401K, pension, social security, pay differential when working nights, a stipend on your cell phone bill if you are an on-call surgical technologist.
Salary of a Surgical Technologist in 2015
The salary in 2015 will grow or decrease according to the influential factors that affect a job and also due to the higher or lower points. These salaries are mainly affected by the location, the type of employer, and the years of experience that were achieved from work.
The economic flux will also vary according to each state and the rural or urban area, where you are working. The median salary in US for these professionals can reach about $40,498 per year. The people especially the older population will always be in need for the duties of these specialists.
In 2015, the salary of a surgical technologist will vary according to the training that one has and also based on the facility in which you are hired. The basic salary is not all that these professionals will gain, and you can add as well an overtime payment, a bonus. Also, in some cases the profit is shared and will range from $34.54 and up to $2,839.
Surgical Technologist Salary in 2016
For the year 2016, the median hourly payment of a surgical technologist in the US is estimated at $18.93 per hour, according to PayScale. The incomes are influenced based on several factors that impact and affect the earnings such as the geographical position of one individual working in this field, the set of skills, years of experience and type of employment.
The skills that influence a lot the salary are the Open Heart, plastic surgery as well as vascular surgery. The total payment for this group, together with added benefits is estimated to range from $29,949 per year and up to $56,622 per year. The bonuses that are granted according to the PayScale reach at $1,019 while the profit sharing is comprised from $98.64 and $4,950.
When it comes to the geographical location, the salaries vary according to each state. The two factors that influence the economic flux are the living expenses and the costs of living. For instance, surgical technologist that are working in Seattle can expect to receive an income that is above the national average reaching at $51,235 per year followed by San Diego with an annual income estimated at $49,886 per year.
The national average salary across the country is estimated at $40,510 per year. Other regions where the income is above the national average can be found in New York, Huston, Denver, Los Angeles and a few other.
On the other side incomes that are below the national average can be found in Dallas where the salary for a surgical technologist reaches only at $39,403 per year and Tampa with a total median payment that reaches $39,671 per year.
When it comes to the years of experience a surgical technologist that has just started in the field or has for up to five years can expect to take home between $27,957 and $49,089 while one that already has from 5 to 10 years at the working site can expect at an income that ranges from $31,710 and $55,270.
A surgical technologist that has already accomplished more than 20 years of experience in the field can expect at an income that is situated between $38,117 per year and up to $67,954 per year. The salaries are influenced based on the regions in which one individual is located with his or her job. There is a difference in the economic market when it comes to urban and rural areas or metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.
Surgical technologist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- Australia—beginning surgical technologist average annual salary would be AU$25,000 but with 3-5 years of experience the average annual salary would be over AU$40,000.
- Canada—the average annual salary for a surgical technologist is C$38,159-C$60,309. For those who have worked 1-4 years received a bonus of C$1,578.
- UK—the average annual salary for a surgical technologist is 45,000 but what affects the average annual salary is their age. In their 20’s they can earn 33,750, in their 30’s they can earn 44,1oo, and in their 40’s and 50’s they can earn 52,200. Another factor that can affect their average annual salary is the region they are working in. For example London at 49,050, Northern Ireland at 40,500, and in Wales at $37,800
Conclusion on surgical technologist salary
If you are considering a career as a surgical technologist according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment opportunities are expected to grow by 25% from 2008-2018 so this is a great medical field to get into. Even though most surgical technologists were employed by a hospital it was found that the higher average salaries for surgical technologist were found when they were working in physician offices, the surgical supply industry, and outpatient care centers.
Even if the starting salary is not so high, there is also the great benefit package that you need to take into consideration. It is also a field where there is expected growth so this can equal job security.
- First Published Date: 19 September, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 25 August, 2016