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How to Become a Surgical Technician in Pennsylvania

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Surgical technicians, also known as surgical technologists, are essential members of the operating room team. They work alongside surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that surgical procedures run smoothly.

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Responsibilities of a Surgical Technician

  • Preparing the operating room by sterilizing equipment and setting up surgical instruments.

  • Assisting the surgical team during procedures by handing them instruments, sponges, and supplies.

  • Monitoring patients' vital signs and ensuring their safety throughout the surgery.

  • Cleaning and maintaining surgical equipment and instruments.

  • Collaborating with the surgical team to ensure a sterile and organized operating room environment.

Work Settings for Surgical Technicians

Surgical technicians can find employment in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Hospitals

  • Ambulatory surgical centers

  • Outpatient clinics

  • Physician offices

  • Specialty hospitals

How to Become a Surgical Technician in Pennsylvania?

To become a Surgical Technician in Pennsylvania, one must first complete an accredited Surgical Technology program, typically a 1-year certificate or 2-year associate's degree. After graduation, individuals must pass the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam to become certified. With certification, they can then search for and secure employment as a Surgical Technician, earning a competitive salary.

Requirements to Become a Surgical Technician in Pennsylvania

To become a surgical technician in Pennsylvania, you must meet certain education and legal requirements. These include:

Education Requirements

  • Completion of a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

  • Some programs may require prerequisites such as anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

  • The program typically takes 9-24 months to complete, depending on the level of certification desired.

Legal Requirements

  • Pennsylvania does not require surgical technicians to obtain licensure or certification.

  • However, many employers prefer to hire certified surgical technologists.

  • Certification can be obtained through organizations such as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

Exploring a Career in Surgical Technician Outside Pennsylvania

If you're dreaming of being a Surgical Technician but find yourself in a different state, fear not — your dreams are still achievable. You might find your path to becoming a Surgical Technician in locations such as Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Utah, or Wyoming. And if these don't match your current location, Dreambound simplifies the journey by helping you easily search and compare Surgical Technician classes using just your zip code. With commitment and the right resources like Dreambound, entering healthcare is possible from anywhere.

How do I get my Surgical Technician certification?

Becoming a certified surgical technician is a great way to start a rewarding career in the healthcare field. Surgical technicians, also known as surgical technologists, play a crucial role in assisting surgeons and other medical professionals during surgical procedures. They are responsible for preparing the operating room, sterilizing equipment, and ensuring that all necessary supplies are available. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a surgical technician, here are the steps you need to take to obtain your certification.

Education and Training

The first step in becoming a certified surgical technician is to complete a formal education program. These programs are typically offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals. Most programs take about 9 to 24 months to complete and result in a certificate or associate degree.

During your education, you will learn about anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, surgical procedures, and sterile techniques. You will also gain hands-on experience through clinical rotations in a healthcare setting. It is important to choose an accredited program to ensure that you receive a quality education and meet the requirements for certification.

Certification Exam

After completing your education, you will need to pass a certification exam to become a certified surgical technician. The most widely recognized certification for surgical technicians is the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential, which is offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

To be eligible for the CST exam, you must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program within the past four years. You can also qualify if you have completed a military training program or have at least seven years of experience as a surgical technician. Once you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply to take the exam.

The CST exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that cover various aspects of surgical technology, including preoperative preparation, intraoperative procedures, and postoperative care. The exam is computer-based and takes about four hours to complete. Upon passing the exam, you will receive your CST certification.

Maintaining Certification

To maintain your certification as a surgical technician, you will need to complete continuing education credits and renew your certification every four years. The NBSTSA requires certified surgical technicians to complete 60 continuing education credits during each four-year renewal cycle. These credits can be earned through workshops, seminars, online courses, and other approved educational activities.

In addition to continuing education, you will also need to pay a renewal fee and submit documentation of your continuing education credits to the NBSTSA. By staying current with your certification, you demonstrate your commitment to professional growth and ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest advancements in surgical technology.

How do I get a job as a Surgical Technician?

Once you have obtained your surgical technician certification, you are ready to start your career in the field. Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of finding a job as a surgical technician.

Build a Professional Network

One of the best ways to find job opportunities in any field is through networking. As a surgical technician, it is important to build a professional network of colleagues, mentors, and industry professionals. Attend conferences, join professional organizations, and participate in online forums to connect with others in the field.

Networking can help you learn about job openings, gain insights into the industry, and receive recommendations from professionals who can vouch for your skills and experience. Building relationships with people in the healthcare industry can open doors to job opportunities that may not be advertised publicly.

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Gain Experience through Internships and Clinical Rotations

While completing your education program, take advantage of any opportunities for internships or clinical rotations. These experiences will allow you to gain hands-on experience in a real healthcare setting and build your skills and confidence as a surgical technician.

Internships and clinical rotations also provide valuable networking opportunities. Take the time to introduce yourself to the medical professionals you work with, ask questions, and express your interest in pursuing a career as a surgical technician. These connections can lead to job offers or recommendations when you are ready to start your job search.

Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

When applying for surgical technician positions, it is important to tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and experience. Focus on any specialized training or certifications you have obtained, as well as any hands-on experience you gained during your education or through internships and clinical rotations.

Highlight your ability to work well under pressure, attention to detail, and strong communication skills. These are all important qualities for a surgical technician to possess. It may also be helpful to include any relevant volunteer work or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your commitment to the healthcare field.

Search for Job Openings

There are several ways to search for job openings as a surgical technician. Start by checking online job boards, such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities also have career pages on their websites where you can search for job openings and submit your application directly.

In addition to online job boards, consider reaching out to local hospitals and surgical centers directly. Even if they do not currently have any job openings, they may keep your resume on file for future opportunities. It is also a good idea to attend job fairs and career events in your area, as these can provide valuable networking opportunities and allow you to speak directly with recruiters.

Prepare for Interviews

Once you start receiving interview requests, it is important to prepare thoroughly. Research the healthcare facility or hospital where you will be interviewing, and familiarize yourself with their surgical procedures and protocols. Be prepared to answer questions about your education, experience, and why you are interested in pursuing a career as a surgical technician.

Practice common interview questions and consider how you would respond to scenarios that may arise in the operating room. It is also a good idea to have questions prepared to ask the interviewer, as this demonstrates your interest in the position and allows you to gather important information about the job and the facility.

By following these steps and staying dedicated to your job search, you can increase your chances of finding a job as a surgical technician and starting your career in the operating room.

Career Paths and Opportunities after Becoming a Surgical Technician

Once you have become a certified surgical technician, there are several career paths and opportunities available to you. Here are some options to consider as you advance in your career.

Operating Room Technician

Many surgical technicians start their careers as operating room technicians. In this role, you will work directly with surgeons and other medical professionals to prepare the operating room, sterilize equipment, and assist during surgical procedures. Operating room technicians play a crucial role in maintaining a sterile environment and ensuring that the surgical team has everything they need.

Surgical Assistant

With additional training and experience, you may choose to become a surgical assistant. As a surgical assistant, you will have a more hands-on role in the operating room. You will assist the surgeon with tasks such as suturing, clamping, and cauterizing. Surgical assistants are responsible for maintaining a clear field of vision for the surgeon and ensuring that the patient is safe and comfortable throughout the procedure.

Central Sterile Processing Technician

Another career path for surgical technicians is to become a central sterile processing technician. In this role, you will be responsible for sterilizing and preparing surgical instruments and equipment. Central sterile processing technicians ensure that all instruments are properly cleaned and sterilized before each surgical procedure. They also track inventory, order supplies, and maintain the sterilization equipment.

Surgical Technology Educator

If you enjoy teaching and mentoring others, you may choose to become a surgical technology educator. In this role, you will teach aspiring surgical technicians in educational programs. You will develop curriculum, deliver lectures, and provide hands-on training in the laboratory and clinical settings. Surgical technology educators play a crucial role in preparing the next generation of surgical technicians.

Sales Representative

Some surgical technicians choose to move into sales roles. As a sales representative for a medical device or equipment company, you will use your knowledge and experience as a surgical technician to educate healthcare professionals about the products you represent. Sales representatives often work closely with surgical teams to ensure that they have the necessary equipment and supplies for their procedures.

Further Education and Specialization

If you are interested in advancing your career even further, you may choose to pursue additional education and specialization. There are several advanced certifications and degree programs available for surgical technicians who want to specialize in a specific area, such as neurosurgery, cardiovascular surgery, or orthopedic surgery.

By obtaining additional certifications and specialized training, you can expand your career opportunities and increase your earning potential. Specializing in a specific area of surgical technology allows you to become an expert in that field and work on complex and specialized procedures.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a certified surgical technician is a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in the healthcare field. By completing a formal education program and passing the certification exam, you can start your career as a surgical technician. Through networking, gaining experience, and tailoring your resume, you can increase your chances of finding a job in the field.

Once you have started your career as a surgical technician, there are several career paths and opportunities available to you. Whether you choose to advance your skills and become a surgical assistant, specialize in a specific area, or pursue a career in education or sales, the possibilities are endless.

No matter which path you choose, always stay dedicated to professional growth and continue to expand your knowledge and skills in surgical technology. By doing so, you can ensure a long and successful career as a surgical technician.

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Athena Kan
Written by
Athena Kan

Athena is Co-founder and CEO of Dreambound.

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