The medical profession has an almost countless amount of different opportunities, and a surgical tech position is a good choice for those who do not wish to go through several years of schooling. In order to make a good decision, however, you need to know the answer to two important questions: What does a surgical tech do, and how does one prepare for a career as a surgical tech?
In order to become a surgical tech, you will need to complete a specialized training program. These are offered via many community colleges, trade schools, junior colleges and nursing schools. Most schools will offer two different programs, and your initial salary will be based on which one you have completed. The quicker program lasts only one year, but if you enroll in a two year program, then you can earn an Associate Degree.
Once you have completed the training program you will need to decide whether or not to apply for certification. Although most hospitals do not require surgical techs to be certified, it can provide you with a great advantage over other applicants. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offers a certification exam, but be forewarned that the pass rate is quite low. For this reason, most surgical techs opt to skip the certification process. If you are able to successfully pass the exam, however, the certificate will make it easier to find work, and it may also increase your starting salary.
What Does a Surgical Tech Do?
There are standard tasks that all surgical techs will undertake, but different medical facilities will require various additional tasks. All surgical techs will be required to prepare an operating room so that it is sterile before a surgery. This is a surgical tech’s number one role, and it is a vital part of the health industry. Without a sterile operating room, the success rate for surgeries would plummet. Due to this, there is always a need for qualified surgical techs.
In addition to prepping the operating room, a surgical tech will be required to be present during the actual operations. Their role during the process will vary from hospital to hospital, but it is vital for a surgical tech to be comfortable with the sight of blood. Due to the length of many operations, it is also imperative that a surgical tech be able to stand in one spot for an extended period of time.
Many surgical techs will be asked to assist the surgeons and nurses as they are getting ready for surgery. This may include helping them get their gloves, caps and scrubs on to ensure that everything stays sterile. During the surgery itself, the surgical tech will be in charge of making sure that everyone stays in compliance with sanitary guidelines. If anything happens that can compromise the sterility of the environment, then the surgical tech is required to alert the surgical staff and take steps to rectify the issue.
Most hospitals will not require a surgical tech to do the actual cleaning of an operating room after a surgery, but the tech is required to make sure that the room is sterile again before the next operation. A surgical tech will be in charge of handling the used surgical equipment after the operation is complete, and he or she will also be in charge of ensuring that all tools are sterile before an operation begins.
In some instances, a surgical tech will be required to help prep a patient before their surgery. This may include cleaning, shaving and disinfecting the area that will be operated on. Some hospitals will also require a surgical tech to help transport a patient after their operation to the recovery room, along with delivering charts as ordered by a physician.
The Daily Routine of a Surgical Tech
As you have probably already determined, there is no specific daily routine that all surgical techs will follow, but there will be a specific routine for whichever facility you are working at. Regardless of where you work, however, you can be guaranteed that your daily duties will involve prepping an operating room, maintaining a sterile environment during an operation and removing all of the surgical tools at the end of the operation. This process may be repeated several times a day, or it may happen only once, depending on the length of the surgery that you are involved with.
All other aspects of a surgical tech’s day will be based upon the exact location that they work at. There are some surgical techs that specialize in a specific type of surgery, and this will also have an impact on their daily routine.
What Does a Surgical Tech do to Advance their Career?
Without additional schooling, a tech can only go so far, but there are a few options for growth, such as specializing in a specific type of surgery. Once you have demonstrated a high level of skill and have gained seniority, it is possible to be promoted to the title of a senior technician. In this role, you would train new surgical techs. You would also oversee the work of all of the hospital’s other surgical techs and ensure that they are fully complying with sterility guidelines.
If you wish to go beyond specializing in a specific surgery or working as a senior technician, then you should consider going back to school for a degree. A surgical assistant is the next logical move for a surgical tech to make, and some hospitals will even consider on the job training in lieu of a degree. To make more money, however, it is always a good idea to get a degree. Working as a surgical tech will make you more involved in the actual surgery process. You would be required to help with suturing and suctioning, and you would also call upon your sterility training to help keep the operating environment safe.
Is this the Right Job for Me?
If you are comfortable with the sight of blood and open wounds, then a career as a surgical tech may be a good option for you. It will provide you with a quickly attainable foothold into the medical profession, and you will also be providing a very important service to others. If you decide later on that you want to advance into other areas of medicine, it will give you important on the job training and contacts. Now that you can answer the question of what does a surgical tech do, it is time to consider enrolling in a one or a two year program.