Surgical Technology

The operating room is not just for doctors and nurses.

Surgical technologists play a major role in high tech operating rooms across the country. They work under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses and other members of the surgical team. Also called scrubs and surgical or operating room technicians, they pass instruments, hold retractors, cut sutures and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments.

Surgical technologists may also set up the operating rooms, run sterilizers, operate suction machines and help operate diagnostic equipment. After surgery, they restock and sterilize the operating room.

As the number of surgeries increases to meet the needs of our aging population, so will the opportunities for surgical technologists. Employment for this field is expected to grow 25% between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than average. In addition, medical advances and high-tech devices will allow surgical technologists to assist with a greater number of procedures.

Hospitals will continue to be the primary employer although much faster employment growth is expected in doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers, including ambulatory surgical facilities.

Do you have the discipline, concentration and stamina needed to succeed in this growing field?

As important members of the operating room team, surgical technologists spend most of their day on their feet. They may have to be at work very early in the morning as well as at night and on weekends. They must perform well under pressure and keep a cool head.

A career as a surgical technologist could be right for you if you:

  • Are well organized and can keep track of details
  • Are not squeamish about watching surgery
  • Have good hand-eye coordination
  • Work well in a group
  • Work well under pressure
  • Can quickly respond to multiple requests

What are the career opportunities in this field?

Surgical Technology Career Paths

Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams, which most commonly include surgeons, anesthesiologists, and circulating nurses. Before an operation, they help prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes, and sterile solutions. They also get patients ready for surgery as well as pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and surgeon assistants during surgery.

Advancement

Technologists advance by specializing in a particular area of surgery, such as neurosurgery or open-heart surgery.

  • Certified surgical technologists with additional specialized education or training also may act in the role of the surgical first assistant or circulator. The surgical first assistant, as defined by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), provides aid in exposure, hemostasis (controlling blood flow and stopping or preventing hemorrhage), and other technical functions under the surgeon’s direction that help the surgeon carry out a safe operation.
  • A circulating technologist is the “unsterile” member of the surgical team who interviews the patient before surgery, prepares the patient, helps with anesthesia, obtains and opens packages for the “sterile” people to remove the sterile contents during the procedure, keeps a written account of the surgical procedure, and answers the surgeon’s questions about the patient during the surgery.
  • Some surgical technologists manage central supply departments in hospitals, or take positions with insurance companies, sterile supply services, and operating equipment firms.

Work Environment

Surgical technologists work in clean, well-lit, cool environments. They must stand for long periods and remain alert during operations. At times, they may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant sights, odors, and materials. Most work a regular 40-hour week, although they may be on call or work nights, weekends, and holidays on a rotating basis

What certification/licensure does this program prepare you for?

At Herzing University, the Surgical Technology curriculum is geared to ensure that our graduates become certified.

Graduates of the Herzing University Associate of Science in Surgical Technology meet the educational requirements to be eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) examination offered by The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.

Go to the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for more information about certification exams.

What is the program title, length, and content?

Surgical Technology Program Info Chart

Program Credits Months
Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology 65 18
*Average number of months for students to complete program

The associate degree in surgical technology is declared by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) as the preferred educational model for entry-level practice. –AST Recommended Standards of Practice. The AST also mentions the importance of finding a CAAHEP-accredited program in order to become certified as a surgical technologist. You can visit their student section at www.ast.org.

For Herzing University Surgical Technology program accreditation information, please view the Accreditation page.

Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology

This surgical technology program is designed to provide students with the skills needed to work effectively as an integral part of a surgical team. The coursework includes anatomy and physiology as well as the principles and protocols of surgical procedures. Graduates are prepared for entry-level careers in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities as Surgical Technologists, Lead Surgical Technologists, Travel Surgical Technologists, Sterile Processing Technicians and Material Managers. Download Program Course Sheet

Which locations offer this program?

New Orleans Campus
Toledo Campus

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