Do you have your sights set on training to become a surgical tech?
Also known as a Surgical Technologist or Operating Room Technician, this role involves assisting surgeons. This is an excellent entry-level role for anyone interested in working in the healthcare industry.
However, it is necessary to complete a surgical tech program to learn the skills to do this job. It is also necessary to have certain personality traits to perform your duties effectively.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a surgical tech and secure the job of your dreams.
What Does A Surgical Tech Do?
This role typically takes place in a hospital. However, some surgical techs work in physician offices and outpatient centers. Regardless of where you work, the core duties you are charged with will be the same.
One of the main duties is preparing patients and operating rooms before surgery. This includes making sure the necessary equipment is available and properly sterilized. You will also make sure that the incision areas of patients are disinfected and cleansed before surgery.
Assisting in the operating room…
Surgical techs assist surgeons during surgery by handing them the necessary instruments. You may also need to use retractors and hold organs in place during surgery. After the surgery, you will help to dress wounds and take patients to the specified recovery rooms.
How To Become A Surgical Tech – Essential Skills
Before you dive in and complete a training program, you need to make sure you have the right personal skills. While the technical skills you need to do the job can be taught, you also need to have soft skills. Here are the personal skills and attributes that successful surgical technicians need to possess.
It is necessary to work closely with surgeons, nurses, and physicians while performing your duties. Some situations can be very stressful, especially when surgeries do not go as planned. It is essential to be able to work as part of a team and provide each other with the necessary support.
You need to be able to explain complex medical information to patients on request. It is essential to be able to find ways to explain terms and procedures so that patients can understand them. When issues arise during surgery for any reason, you need to be able to communicate them. You also need to be able to explain the aftercare procedures to patients and their loved ones after their surgery.
You need to be able to listen carefully to instructions from surgeons and follow them to the letter. Patients may also provide you with important information both before and after surgery. You need to listen carefully and respond quickly and accurately to the provided information.
Attention to detail
Even the tiniest incorrect detail can cause a huge problem during surgery and even cost a patient their life. It is essential to make sure the surgical instruments and operating room are correctly sanitized before each operation. You also need to keep a vigilant eye open for incorrectly placed sutures and other details that could cause problems.
Many patients are likely to be scared and even distressed before their surgery. Having empathy allows you to put yourself in the place of different patients and anticipate their needs. Showing patients empathy with your words and actions helps patients to know they are in good hands.
It is essential to make sure that all the surgical equipment is properly organized for the surgeon. Hospitals are fast-paced environments, and you are sure to have a large number of tasks to complete. Being organized makes it easier to focus on all of the individual tasks.
It is essential to be able to handle surgical tools carefully and correctly. Dropping instruments during surgery means they need to be sterilized again and wastes valuable time. It is a good idea to spend time working on your manual dexterity, especially if you tend to be clumsy. Good ways to do this include drawing, painting, knitting, and crocheting.
Some surgical procedures take several hours to complete, and you will usually need to remain standing throughout. It is necessary to walk to different parts of the hospital to retrieve surgical equipment as needed. You may also need to lift heavy equipment from time to time and wheel patients to recovery rooms. Doing exercises to increase your physical stamina will help you perform your duties more effectively.
Observation and focus
Patients will not always tell you when something is wrong, and you need to be able to pick up on it. Closely monitoring the behavior of other people is a good way to become attuned to non-verbal cues. It is also necessary to be able to focus on your tasks even in very noisy business environments.
These essential skills will be taught during a professional degree course. They include being able to recolonize the different tools and instruments that surgeons are likely to request. You also need to know how to ensure that tools and equipment are in good working order.
Calm under pressure
Being able to keep a cool head in emergencies is an important skill for any medical professional. If you tend to suffer from stress easily, it is time to start working on stress management techniques. Being able to remain calm and focused will ensure you provide the best care possible for your patients.
How To Become A Surgical Technologist
It is best to start mapping out your career path as soon as possible to secure this valuable role. It takes around two years to become fully trained and qualified after graduating from high school. Here are the steps you can take to gain the qualifications you need to land your first surgical tech job.
Enroll in a surgical technology degree program
After completing high school, you need to enroll in a surgical technology degree program at an accredited university or college. The degree program takes two years to complete and includes classes in science, math, and English. These classes help to make sure you have the broad range of skills you need to work quickly and efficiently.
The degree program will also begin with an overview of the main surgical principles and practices. Once you have covered the basics, it will go into more detail about specific surgical techniques. This includes the most common operating room equipment, surgical instruments, and the main sterilization methods.
Job placement assistance is key…
It is important to choose a degree program that offers students job-placement assistance. This will make it much easier to find an entry-level role once you have completed your degree. This will save you the time and stress of having to search for your first job once you graduate.
Complete an externship
Around a quarter of your degree-specific credit hours will be spent completing a clinical externship. This will give you hands-on experience practicing the skills and knowledge you have learned during the course. Typical tasks include preparing operating rooms, sterilizing surgical equipment, and observing and assisting with surgeries.
Earn an advanced certification
Gaining an advanced certification shows potential employers that you are serious about your career. You will learn specialist skills and techniques that can give you the edge over the competition. Most certifications require you to complete a short course and pass a test, both of which can be done online.
The last step on your path to becoming qualified involves applying for a license. Each state boasts different requirements that you need to meet before you receive your license. Once you have obtained your license, you will be ready to apply for an entry-level surgical tech job.
The Different Types Of Surgical Tech Certifications
There are two main types of certifications you can choose to boost your career. Each of these certifications comes with pros and cons that need to be taken into account. Let’s check out the main types of certifications and what each one involves.
Certified Surgical Technologist
This advanced certification is offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting to candidates who pass an examination. It is necessary to graduate from an accredited surgical technologist program and gain hands-on training before applying. It can take up to six weeks to receive authorization to take the necessary written test.
Tech in Surgery – Certified TS-C Certification
The National Center for Competency Testing offers this certification to professionals who have at least three years of work experience. It is necessary to present a copy of your surgical technology diploma to be eligible to sit this exam. The test consists of around four hundred multiple-choice questions as well as a written essay section.
Surgical Tech Professional Organizations
There are several professional surgical tech associations that you can join to boost your career. These associations offer special mentoring opportunities, online resources, and networking opportunism. Here are the main professional organizations that are open to membership.
This was the first professional organization for surgical technologists to be established in the United States. The organization boasts more than 40,000 members, including students and recent graduates. Securing membership gives you access to special conferences, discounted rates on education units, and liability insurance.
If you have your sights on becoming a surgical assistant in the future, it is worth joining this professional organization. You will gain access to a huge library of online resources as well as professional services such as malpractice insurance.
The Association of Surgical Assistants also offers educational opportunities and discounts at both regional and national conferences.
Membership of this association is open to all types of allied health professionals, including surgical technicians. Members can take advantage of a huge online library to assist with ongoing research, as well as live webcasts. Other benefits of membership include electronic payment processing, individual healthcare insurance, and practice management assistance.
Members of the American Society for Microbiology are treated to regular news briefs on the latest research findings and developments. There is a wealth of resources available to anyone who is planning to advance their career in microbiology. Other benefits include access to a regularly updated job board and an online networking directory.
All types of healthcare and medical practitioners are welcome to become members of the American Association of Blood Banks. Becoming a member is especially useful if you are planning to advance to a patient blood management specialization.
Membership provides you with access to a wide range of online educational tools, an active job board, and free publications.
About To Take Your Surgical Tech Exams?
Great news! For that, we found excellent study guides such as the LANGE Q&A Surgical Technology Examination, the Appleton & Lange Review for the Surgical Technology Examination, the Secrets of the CST Exam Study Guide: CST Test Review for the Certified Surgical Technologist Exam, and the Elsevier’s Surgical Technology Exam Review, to begin with.
Or perhaps you’ll need the set of the HANDBOOK ONE FOR THE SURGICAL TECHNOLOGY CERTIFICATION EXAMINATION: Practice Surgical Technology Certification Examination New, and the HANDBOOK TWO FOR SURGICAL TECHNOLOGY CERTIFICATION EXAMINATION: Practice Surgical Technology Certification Examination, available online in 2022.
I also recommend Surgical Notes: A Pocket Survival Guide for the Operating Room, the Pearson’s Surgical Technology Exam Review, Surgical Technology for the Surgical Technologist: A Positive Care Approach, the Surg Tech Certifying Exam Study Guide, and finally, the Workbook for Surgical Technology: Principles and Practice.
How To Become A Surgical Tech – Final Thoughts
Training to be a surgical tech is a great way to launch your career in the healthcare industry. This is the perfect way to learn a wide range of basic skills and make connections. The average salary for a surgical tech is around $50,000 per year.
Gaining and maintaining special certification will give your access to advanced surgical tech roles. Once you have gained work experience and skills, you will be able to advance your career easily.
Related roles that are open to people with experience include surgical first assistant, anesthesia technician, and registered nurse.
All the very best working as a Surgical Technician!