What is a Surgical Technologist?

Aug 24 2018

Surgical technologists are allied health professionals that work on surgical care teams. They are sometimes also known as surgical technicians, scrubs, scrub techs, surg techs, or operating room technicians. The titles and roles may vary based on state licensure laws and educational requirements, but most surgical technologists work in surgical rooms under the supervision of a surgeon or other surgical personnel. They provide assistance in surgeries and make the procedure as smooth as possible. It’s an exciting career with incredible opportunities to help save lives and make a difference!

What Do Surgical Technologists Do?

Surgical techs can perform many different tasks on any given day depending on who is needing care. Generally, surgical technologists spend their time preparing the operating room, organizing instruments so they are ready for a procedure, maintaining the sterile operating room, transporting patients, and monitoring equipment while the procedure is underway. Sometimes surgical techs have to be on call to be ready for nearly any situation. Some more specific tasks could include:

  • Prepare sterile & non-sterile equipment for a procedure
  • Check equipment for functionality before the procedure
  • Prepare patients for surgery
  • Pass instruments to surgeons during the surgery
  • Operate equipment such as sterilizers, suction machines, lights, and more
  • Handle laboratory specimens or dispose of them correctly
  • Clean the operating room to prepare for next procedure

As you can see, there’s never a dull moment in the day of a surgical technologist. There are plenty of ways to help patients have a smooth and manageable experience in the hospital.

How Are Surgical Assistants Different?

People commonly use the terms “surgical technologist” and “surgical assistant” interchangeably, and in many ways they are the same. Surgical assistants usually have similar responsibilities as a surgical tech, with a few additional duties. Surgical assistants usually assist in the surgery itself, acting as a “third hand” for the surgeon while he performs the surgery. A good surgical assistant will be able to anticipate what the surgeon needs, providing tools and equipment right as it’s needed. The assistants also frequently help with suturing the site of the surgery closed and wrapping up the surgical procedure.

How Do You Become a Surgical Technologist?

Each state has different licensing and educational requirements to become a surgical technologist. In most cases, you would be required to complete an associates program that gives a degree to prepare them for their role as surgical tech. At Pittsburgh Career Institute (PCI), we offer an Associates in Specialized Technology (AST) degree program that can prepare students to be talented technologists. Even if your state doesn’t require a degree to become a surgical technician and requires a license instead, the degree can help you stand out against the competition during your job search after graduation.

Surgical technologist programs generally take one to two years to complete. During that time, you can learn the following skills and principles and many more:

  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Surgical pharmacology
  • Microbiology
  • Surgical procedures & techniques
  • Aseptic technique
  • Surgical instrumentation
  • Much more!

The program at PCI allows students to graduate in as few as 15 months, giving them the opportunity to apply for entry level surgical technologist positions in just over a year. Many students like this career path because they can graduate and start working in less time than a four year degree would require, and it can cost much less money!

Learn At PCI

If you have a passion for helping other people and making a difference, pursuing a career in surgical technology could be the right choice for you. Visit our surgical technology program page to learn more about what you can learn in our program and what career options you can have after graduation. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about what a career in surgical technology can do for you!

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