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Surgical Technologist Training

Surgical Technology Training

The best way to get a job as a surgical technologist, and become competitive in the field, is by earning an associate’s degree in surgical technology. Accredited programs are offered by universities, community colleges, technical and vocational schools, for-profit universities, the military, and a few hospitals. Some programs are one year and others are two. The two-year programs offer an associate’s degree in which the individual is required to complete additional general education courses such as English and math. However, no matter the length of the program, accredited programs must base their program curriculum on the Core Curriculum for Surgical Technology in order to ensure all students receive the same core surgical technology knowledge. In order to sit for the national certification exam, an individual must graduate from an accredited surgical technology program.

Surgical Technology Degree Program Accreditation

There are currently 460 surgical technology programs accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) available in the United States. In order for an individual to sit for the NBSTSA exam he/she must graduate from an CAAHEP or ABHES accredited program. The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) publishes the Core Curriculums for Surgical Technology. Accredited programs must base their program curriculum on the core curriculum in order to maintain program accreditation status.

The Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA), is one of several allied health accrediting organizations under the large umbrella of CAAHEP to accredit surgical technology programs. ARC-STSA conducts the mechanics of the program accreditations by conducting site visits and collecting self study reports from the programs to show they are meeting standards. ARC/STSA then makes recommendations if they believe a program should be granted accreditation and submits proposals to CAAHEP who makes the final program accreditation decision.

Learn more about surgical technologist certification.

Are there typically prerequisites for entry into a surgical technology program?

This can vary from one program to the next but some programs require anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, microbiology, and pharmacology courses to be taken prior to entry. Other programs include these courses within the curriculum and don’t have prerequisites for entry.

Surgical Technology Courses

Some of these courses may be considered prerequisites to enter surgical technology programs and other times they are included within the program curriculum.

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pharmacology (surgical technology based)
  • Introduction To Surgical Technology
  • Surgical Patient Care This course covers the biopsychosocial and physiological needs of the patient prior to surgery. It also includes the pre-op routines and transportation of the patient.
  • Principles of Surgical Technology This course delves into the job duties of surgical techs such as scrubbing, gowning, gloving, preparing the sterile field, and setting up the sterile back table and Mayo stand.
  • Surgical Procedures course
  • Surgical rotations, which is essentially an internship that provides the students with hands on learning. These rotations typically start half way through the program, after the student has had some didactic courses.

Are internships or clinical hours required?

The core curriculum that the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) publishes outlines the number of cases that a student must complete as part of his/her program. There is not a set number of hours required but rather a number of cases. Currently the clinical case requirement includes three levels that a program can choose; minimum, standard, or best. If the program chooses the “minimum” level those students are required to complete 80 cases. For programs that chose to achieve the “standard” level, those students are required to complete 125 cases. The programs that chose “best” must complete 140 cases. This structure may change in the future.

Surgical Technologist Schools