If you are looking to get into a career where you can enjoy a rewarding job on a regular basis and work closely with surgery patients in a medical field, then there is a good chance that you have found yourself wondering how to become a certified surgical technologist. After all, this is a great career to get into for those who want to work in a hospital or medical office and who want to have a job that challenges them on a regular basis. Also, as a surgical technologist, you can feel rewarded in your job, as you will often be working to help save people’s lives and rid them of medical ailments.
The Requirements to Become a Certified Surgical Technologist
As with just about any career in the medical field that involves directly working with patients, a career as a surgical technologist requires quite a bit of training and experience before you will be able to actually work independently on the job. After all, you wouldn’t want just anyone helping to perform surgery on you, right? This is why there is a list of strict requirements and regulations that must be met in order to enter the field.
For starters, all surgical techs must have a degree in a related university program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (also known as the CAAHEP) or ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools). Typically, these programs last anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the specific credit hour load and schedule that the student takes on.
However, once one receives their related degree in the field (which usually requires a variety of courses related to anatomy, physiology, equipment handling and medical terminology), they are still not ready to work in the field. A lot of times, they will also go through some direct hands on training at a local hospital or medical institution (though this will vary depending on the school attended) in order to get real-world experience.
However, even once this is done, the minimum qualifications for in terms of how to become a certified surgical technologist and get a job in the field have not yet been met. Perhaps the biggest requirement and most daunting step of all is to earn the required surgical technologist certification. This is explicitly done by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), which is commissioned through the Department of Labor. Certification is granted once the prospect has passed a national exam.
The exam itself includes a multiple choice portion, which is taken on a computer at an institution to be determined by the NBSTSA. In order to even take the exam in the first place, one must have the minimum education requirements listed above or must be able to prove that they have seven years of experience in the field.
Only those who pass the exam will be granted their certification as a surgical technologist.
Is That It?
Many people think that once you receive certification in the field, you are set for life and can go off and find a job. And while the latter part may be true (surgical techs often have no trouble finding a job after becoming certified), the truth is that the certification is never permanent and always comes with stipulations. For example, those who are certified through passing the exam must constantly be enrolled in courses in their field. A lot of times, employers will pay for these voluntarily as a way of keeping their technologists up to date and informed about new advancements or changes in the field.
Another stipulation about being certified is that one must re-take the certification test once every four years, and pass it, in order to keep their certification. This means that one must always be up to date with happenings in the field. Otherwise, they could end up failing their exam and losing their certification as a result. This is why many of the required classes are in place and required.
Should one fail their re-certification exam, the good news is that it can be re-taken. However, this often reflects poorly not only on the person him or herself, but could also have negative effects on the person’s job. If the exam is not passed within a certain amount of time, an employer may choose to fire the surgical technologist.
Luckily, exam failure rates are typically low as a result of the amount of experience and knowledge one acquires while on the job every day. Most surgical technologists have been in very intense and unique situations that prepare them for just about anything that they could possibly see in the surgery room.
Is This Field Right For You?
While the allure of being involved in the medical field and being able to help people in the hospital is appealing to a lot of people, it is important to carefully consider whether or not this career path is right for you before getting into an educational program that is related to it. Those who work as surgical technologists must be able to stand witnessing surgeries and, in some cases, will see people die on the operating table. This can be traumatic, and it is certainly not for everybody. Those who get queasy, faint, or lightheaded around blood should not consider going into this field.
Still, this is a great option for those who want to get into the medical field and who feel as though they have what it takes to help save people’s lives. Not to mention, surgical technologists are always in high demand, so they often enjoy great job security and opportunity for advancement in their jobs as well.
Overall, becoming a certified surgical technologist may not be the easiest process in the world, as it involves many long and difficult steps. Still, now that you know the steps that are required when it comes to how to become a certified surgical technologist, you can get started on the path to your new career.