What will best prepare you for a career as a surgical technologist?
Here are 10 tips that can help you make all the right moves, from making sure you attend an accredited school to moving up the career ladder after you’ve landed that first job:
1. Check Your Prerequisites: Surgical technologist training programs require that applicants have at least a high school diploma or GED. Applicants with a solid background of high school math and science classes, along with strong writing and communication skills, will be the most prepared for this line of study.
2. Verify Your Program’s Accreditation: To be eligible for the national certification exam offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), you must graduate from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
3. Scour for Scholarships: The Foundation for Surgical Technology awards need-based and academic merit scholarships specifically for students who are pursuing a surgical technology career and who are enrolled in a CAAHEP-accredited degree program.
4. Hit the Books: Although much of a surgical technologist’s job is learned through hands-on experience, the fundamental medical knowledge about anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology and surgical procedures comes primarily from academic study.
5. Gain Experience through Internships: Many surgical tech schools offer supervised clinical internships as part of their program, which can help build up your resume, but some hospitals also offer unpaid internships that provide valuable work experience and can translate into college credits.
6. Pass the National Certification Exam: After earning a degree in surgical technology, most graduates choose to take the comprehensive exam offered by the NBSTSA for national certification.
7. Think Outside of Hospitals: According to the American Medical Association, 75 percent of surgical techs find employment in hospitals. However, there is a growing demand for surgical techs in outpatient surgery centers, teaching, consulting and private practices.
8. Become a First Assistant: With additional training and education, a wide range of advancements and specialized positions are open to surgical technicians, such as the position of surgical first assistant. Surgical assistants can pursue national certification to become Certified First Assistants (CFAs).
9. Stay Certified and Up to Date: National surgical tech certification must be renewed every four to five years, either by retaking the exam or by taking continuing education classes. By staying abreast of technological and medical advancements you will keep your certification current.
10. Remain Calm, Careful and Caring: Working in an OR requires that surgical techs remain calm, focused and supportive in what are often tense situations. These professionals are also responsible for maintaining the OR’s equipment and sterile conditions, which requires careful diligence and steady attention. You must be able to work closely with patients, surgeons and nurses in a helpful and caring manner. So as you advance your education and career, be certain always to nurture these three C’s.
Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll connect you with schools that offer medical technician degree programs.