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Should I Pursue a Surgical Technology Degree Program?

Majors Overview March 4, 2014

Students will be prepared to become an assistant to surgeons, surgical technologists, and other medical staff members during, before and after surgical procedures. Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree programs in surgical technology will help graduates find a job in the field or continue their education onto a 4-year related degree program.

A.A. Programs in Surgical Technology

Students enrolled in an associate’s degree program can expect to gain knowledge in patient care, sterilization techniques, and surgery methods. Graduates can become adept at naming and identifying surgical equipment, as well as in providing patient care. Such care would require them to sterilize patients’ skins before incisions, dress and suture surgery sites, take specimens and take tissue samples.

Education Prerequisites

Admission criteria require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Incoming students may also be required to complete sufficient science and math courses. Applicants to some programs may also be required to gain experience by shadowing in an operating room before they are allowed to begin core coursework.

Coursework

Coursework combines classroom lectures and supervised clinical studies including exposure to common terminology, practices and procedures. Coursework may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Microbiology
•Pathology
•Medical terminology
•Pharmacology
•Anatomy and physiology

Job and Wage Outlook

A far-better-than-average job growth rate of 30% has been predicted for surgical technologists during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The growth is expected to be driven by broadening of surgical options owing to advancements in surgical technology, as well an aging population. In 2012, surgical technologists took home an average annual wage of $41,790.

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Passage of an exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting can help individuals obtain national certification in the form of the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. Certification to applicants is also offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT); candidates must satisfy education or training prerequisites. Candidates successful in obtaining this 5-year certification are offered the credentials of Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C). Specialization in specific areas of surgery can often help technologists gain better career opportunities.

On completion of the program, graduates may seek entry-level careers or opt for continued education by earning bachelor’s degrees in related fields or by undergoing some other training. Schools may not offer surgical technology programs at higher educational levels; however, schools may permit the transfer of relevant coursework by students to related fields of study, such as health science or technology management.

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