WHAT IS A SURGICAL TECHNOLOGIST? Surgical technologists are also called surgical technicians or operating room technicians. They assist in preparing operating rooms for surgery. They are responsible for having surgical instruments, sterile bandages and linens, needed fluids, and other equipment ready for the operation. They also assist doctors by handing them needed instruments during surgery and for counting sponges and needles before and after the operation. They deliver specimens to hospital laboratories for analysis, and after operations they take patients to the recovery room.
WHAT DOES A SURGICAL TECHNOLOGIST DO? Most surgical technologists spend most of their time in the operating room. They work as an integral part of the healthcare team alongside surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other personnel before, during, and after surgery. Their primary role is to ensure a safe and sterile environment for surgical procedures. Not only do they prepare a patient for surgery, they also arrange operating room equipment, instruments, and supplies according to the preference of the surgeons and nurses.
Surgical technologists need manual dexterity because they must handle instruments quickly. They also must be conscientious, orderly, and emotionally stable in order to handle the demands of surgeons. Technologists must also be able to respond quickly and have a knowledge of various operating room procedures.
WORKING CONDITIONS Surgical technologists work in clean, well-lighted, cool environments. They must stand for long periods and remain alert during operations. At times they may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant sights, odors, and materials. Most surgical technologists work a regular 40-hour week, although they may be on call or work nights, weekends and holidays on a rotating basis.
SURGICAL TECHNOLOGIST TRAINING AND ADVANCEMENT Palm Beach State College's Surgical Technology program involves classroom instruction and practical experience in medical terminology, ethics, medical aspects of surgical care, asepsis (sterile techniques), anatomy, and anesthesia. Graduates must then pass the certification examination administered by the Association of Surgical Technologists in order to practice as a Certified Surgical Technologist.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES Surgical technologists are employed by hospitals, mainly in operating and delivery rooms. Others are employed in clinics and surgical centers, and in the offices of physicians and dentists who perform outpatient surgery. Career rewards include opportunities for diversity and advancement.
JOB OUTLOOK Employment of surgical technologists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2008 as the volume of surgery increases. The number of surgical procedures is expected to rise as the population grows and ages. Technological advances, such as fiber optics and laser technology, will also permit new surgical procedures to be performed.
WAGES AND EARNINGS According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 84,000 surgical technologist jobs in the United States in 2004. Because of the increased number of expected surgeries, the number of jobs in surgical technology is expected to grow faster than average through 2012. The median annual income of these individuals in 2004 was $34,010, with the median 50% earning $31,356 to $42,176annually.
Salary Map, by the Association of Surgical Technologists.
ABILITY AND SKILL REQUIREMENTS Surgery can be very physically demanding, so good health and stamina are important. Meticulous personal hygiene and a fanatical regard for cleanliness and safety are a must for all healthcare workers. Surgical technologists may be exposed to individuals with infectious diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS. They must observe rigid guidelines to guard against these and other dangers such as radiation, chemicals used for sterilization of instruments, and anesthetics. In addition, they face back injury when moving patients, shocks from electrical equipment, and hazards posed by compressed gases.
INFORMATION SESSIONS The Surgical Technology Information Sessions are your opportunity to learn more about the Program Requirements, ask questions you may have about the program and the profession and it your opportunity to see an operating room environment. All program applicants must attend at least one Information Session on campus before applying to the Surgical Technology Limited Access Program.
Only 15 students are accepted per application period. It is important to follow all the steps list on the Limited Access Application page and during the information session carefully, to increase your likelihood of acceptance in the program.