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Surgical Technologist Information

Surgical technologists are healthcare professionals very few patients remember encountering. This is because surgical technologists only see patients immediately before they are put under anesthesia for surgery. Although this is not a highly visible profession, the importance of the role surgical technologists play preparing for and assisting the physician in surgery cannot be underestimated. Let’s explore this exciting profession further.

What does the field of surgical technology entail?

To put it simply, surgical technologists assist surgeons during surgical procedures. These professionals work under the supervision of the surgeon to

What does a day look like for a surgical technologist?

Typically surgical technologists may start their days with a morning meeting to review the schedule with other members of the surgical team. At this meeting any scheduling changes will be discussed, as well as any patients who have existing medical complications or diseases. Sometimes individuals have an infection but the surgery cannot be postponed. It is important to discuss these cases ahead of time so the surgical team is prepared for any complications that may arise. Following the morning meeting, the surgical technologist prepares for what is referred to as the “first cut of the day,” meaning the first surgery.

History of Surgical Technology

The roles performed by surg techs today were originally performed by nurses. The succession of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, which were all fairly close together, creating a huge need for health care professionals and physicians. With not enough of these health care professionals to meet the medical demands of the war veterans, a shortage existed. Veterans from World War I continued to need care when World War II was taking place. Due to the shortage of nurses, medical technicians began serving the scrub role in the operating room. Around the time of the Korean War, physicians began regularly using medical techs as assistants rather than nurses. So, over time, this role became less of a nursing role and more of a technician role and evolved into the formal field of surgical technology in the late 60s. Formal hospital-based programs were developed for surgical technologists in the late 60s. These typically involved three to six months of on-the-job-training. In the 70s the education for surgical technologists became formalized and community colleges began to offer programs. During this time the Association of Surgical Technologists (originally called the Association of Operating Room Technicians) was organized and in 1981 published the first edition of the Core Curriculum for Surgical Technology, which is now in its fifth edition. Learn more about surgical technologist salary.

Surgical Tech Employment

Hospitals are the number one place surgical technologists are employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 70% of surgical technologists work in hospital settings. The second most popular employment setting for these professionals is outpatient surgery center clinics.

Some less common employment settings for surg techs are surgeons’ offices and/or clinics as a private scrub directly employed by the surgeon. Are there different titles for this profession? The appropriate title is surgical technologist, or CST (certified surgical technologist for those individuals who have passed the national certification exam). To shorten the title, sometimes these professionals are referred to as surg techs or surgical technicians, although “technologist” is the correct and appropriate title. 

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