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Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Surgical Technician

Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Surgical Technician

In the field of healthcare, there are many different career paths to choose from. Two popular options are becoming a healthcare documentation specialist or a surgical technician. While both professions are important in the healthcare industry, they have distinct differences in terms of job responsibilities, education and training requirements, and career outlook. In this blog post, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two professions to help you make an informed decision about which path may be right for you.

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Introduction

Before diving into the details, let's briefly define what a healthcare documentation specialist and a surgical technician are.

A healthcare documentation specialist, also known as a medical transcriptionist or medical scribe, is responsible for transcribing dictated medical reports into written documents. These reports can include patient histories, physical examination findings, diagnostic test results, and treatment plans. Accuracy and attention to detail are crucial in this role, as healthcare providers rely on these documents for patient care and communication.

On the other hand, a surgical technician, also known as a surgical technologist or operating room technician, assists surgeons and other healthcare professionals during surgical procedures. They are responsible for preparing the operating room, sterilizing and arranging surgical instruments, and providing assistance to the surgical team during procedures. Surgical technicians play a vital role in ensuring that surgeries are conducted safely and efficiently.

Difference between a Healthcare Documentation Specialist and Surgical Technician

While both professions are essential in the healthcare industry, there are several key differences between healthcare documentation specialists and surgical technicians:

  1. Job Responsibilities

    • Healthcare documentation specialists primarily focus on transcribing medical reports and documents, ensuring accuracy and completeness.
    • Surgical technicians, on the other hand, assist during surgical procedures by preparing the operating room, sterilizing instruments, and providing essential support to the surgical team.
  2. Work Environment

    • Healthcare documentation specialists typically work in offices or remote settings, such as from home. They may work for hospitals, clinics, transcription services, or be self-employed.
    • Surgical technicians primarily work in operating rooms, assisting surgeons and other healthcare professionals during surgeries. They may also work in labor and delivery rooms or emergency departments.
  3. Level of Patient Interaction

    • Healthcare documentation specialists have limited direct patient interaction. They primarily work with healthcare providers and rely on their dictations to create accurate medical documents.
    • Surgical technicians have more direct patient interaction as they assist during surgeries. They may help position patients, provide emotional support, and ensure their safety throughout the procedure.
  4. Emotional Demands

    • Healthcare documentation specialists may experience emotional demands through the content they transcribe, such as sensitive medical diagnoses or end-of-life discussions. However, their primary focus is on accuracy and professionalism.
    • Surgical technicians may experience emotional demands due to the high-stress nature of surgeries and potential life-or-death situations. They must remain calm and focused during these intense moments.

Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Surgical Technician: Job Description

Let's take a closer look at the job descriptions of healthcare documentation specialists and surgical technicians:

Healthcare Documentation Specialist:

  • Transcribe dictated medical reports, including patient histories, physical examination findings, diagnostic test results, and treatment plans.
  • Review and edit transcribed documents for accuracy, grammar, and clarity.
  • Ensure compliance with healthcare industry standards and guidelines.
  • Maintain patient confidentiality and privacy.
  • Communicate with healthcare providers to clarify dictations or obtain additional information.

Surgical Technician:

  • Prepare operating rooms for surgical procedures, ensuring all necessary instruments, equipment, and supplies are sterilized and ready for use.
  • Assist surgeons and other healthcare professionals during surgeries by passing instruments, holding retractors, and controlling bleeding.
  • Monitor and maintain a sterile field during surgical procedures.
  • Anticipate the needs of the surgical team and respond quickly to requests.
  • Assist with patient positioning, draping, and prepping before surgeries.

Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Surgical Technician: Education and Training

The education and training requirements for healthcare documentation specialists and surgical technicians differ:

Healthcare Documentation Specialist:

  • Most employers require a postsecondary certificate or associate degree in medical transcription or a related field.
  • Coursework typically includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical transcription techniques, and computer skills.
  • On-the-job training is common, where new healthcare documentation specialists work under the guidance of experienced professionals to gain practical skills.

Surgical Technician:

  • Surgical technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate or associate degree from an accredited surgical technology program.
  • Courses cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, surgical procedures, sterile techniques, and patient care.
  • Clinical rotations provide hands-on experience in operating rooms and other healthcare settings.
  • Some states require surgical technicians to be certified, which involves passing an exam after completing an accredited program.

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Healthcare Documentation Specialist vs Surgical Technician: Career Outlook and Salary

When considering a career, it's important to also evaluate the career outlook and potential salary. Here's a glimpse into the career outlook for healthcare documentation specialists and surgical technicians:

Healthcare Documentation Specialist:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of healthcare documentation specialists is projected to decline by 2 percent from 2019 to 2029.
  • The median annual wage for healthcare documentation specialists was $34,770 as of May 2020.
  • The demand for healthcare documentation specialists may vary depending on factors such as advancements in voice recognition technology and outsourcing trends.

Surgical Technician:

  • The BLS projects a much faster than average job growth of 9 percent for surgical technologists from 2019 to 2029.
  • The median annual wage for surgical technologists was $49,040 as of May 2020.
  • The demand for surgical technicians is driven by the increasing number of surgical procedures being performed and advancements in surgical technology.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a career as a healthcare documentation specialist or a surgical technician ultimately depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. Consider factors such as your comfort level with patient interaction, preference for working in an office or hands-on environment, and the potential for job growth and salary.

Both professions play crucial roles in the healthcare industry, and the choice ultimately comes down to which path aligns best with your interests and aspirations. Whichever path you choose, a career in healthcare can be rewarding and fulfilling, knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of others.

Dreambound's educational programs are available in diverse locations. Explore these recommended blogs for a comprehensive examination of the two vocations, including in-depth insights into their prerequisites and guidance on initiating your journey:

Athena Kan
Written by
Athena Kan

Athena is Co-founder and CEO of Dreambound.

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