Surgical technologists, also called scrubs and surgical or operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams, which most commonly include surgeons, anesthesiologists, and circulating nurses. Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room. Technologists also get patients ready for surgery by washing, shaving, and disinfecting incision sites. They transport patients to the operating room, help position them on the operating table, and cover them with sterile surgical "drapes." Technologists also observe patients' vital signs, check charts, and assist the surgical team with putting on sterile gowns and gloves.
During surgery, technologists pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and surgeon assistants. They may hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments. Surgical technologists help prepare, care for, and dispose of specimens taken for laboratory analysis and help apply dressings. Some operate sterilizers, lights, or suction machines, and help operate diagnostic equipment. After an operation, surgical technologists may help transfer patients to the recovery room and clean and restock the operating room.
Surgical Technology Career Outook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgical technologists held about 99,800 jobs in 2014. By 2024, the BLS expects 14,700 more jobs, an increase of 15%. About 7 out of 10 jobs for surgical technologists were in hospitals, mainly in operating and delivery rooms. Other jobs were in offices of physicians or dentists who perform outpatient surgery and in outpatient care centers, including ambulatory surgical centers.
Surgical Technologist Earnings
The US BLS sited that median annual wage for surgical technologists was $44,330 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,410.
Surgical Technologist Credential
Credentialing for the surgical technologist is currently a voluntary process that helps determine, by examination, that an individual has met a national standard in both theoretical and practical knowledge in a particular field. Those who obtain the certification credential and become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) demonstrate a commitment to maximum performance and quality patient care
Only graduates of CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology programs (and currently or previously credentialed surgical technologists) are eligible to take the certification examination. Upon passing the certification examination, an individual is authorized to use the CST credential. Several states require surgical technologists to hold the CST credential in order to be credentialed by state regulatory agencies, or require that hospitals hire only Certified Surgical Technologists in their operating rooms.
Programmatic Accreditation: This site only lists surgical technology programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and/or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Therefore, graduates of these programs are eligible for and encouraged to take the certification exam offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), formerly the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist (LCC-ST). This credential is a nationally recognized voluntary certification that could enhance employment opportunities or income potential. Only graduates of CAAHEP and/or ABHES surgical technology programs are eligible to take this exam at this time.