Special Technologies and Services
Surgical Technologist

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Salary: $26,993 - $39,618
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Hourly: $13.52 - $21.85
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Outlook: 4 Stars
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Length of Training: 2 years
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Surgical technologists, formally called operating room technicians, perform a variety of tasks before, during, and following surgery. In the scrub, or sterile person role, the surgical tech is the one that works closest with the surgeons performing the procedure. In the role of circulator, or unsterile person, the surgical tech prepares the patient for surgery and maintains surgical instruments and specimens. They work closely with the anesthesiologists, registered nurses, and other surgical personnel to deliver appropriate patient care. They are responsible for preparing the operating room by selecting and opening sterile instruments, and assembling, adjusting, and checking non-sterile equipment. Duties include: helping the surgeon put on gloves and gown; placing instruments, supplies, and equipment on sterile tables and stands; positioning the patient, connecting and applying the surgical equipment, and preparing the incision site; passing instruments and supplies, assisting in the retraction of tissues, cutting sutures, and operating special equipment such as sterilizers, lights, suction machines, and diagnostic equipment; and, counting sponges, needles, and instruments to ensure none are left in the patient.

Areas of Specialization

Surgical technologists may specialize in a specific surgical service, such as open-heart surgery, neurosurgery, organ transplantation, plastic surgery, or orthopedic surgery.

Work Environment

Surgical techs work in hospitals, physician offices, invasive diagnostic facilities, and surgical centers that have operating, delivery, or emergency room facilities. They must work with speed, accuracy, and concentration, and must have good manual dexterity. They must work well under pressure, stand for long hours, and respond effectively to emergency situations. Most are expected to do on-call assignments for emergencies. Surgical techs can also work at surgical supply companies in sales and marketing, or in inventory control management.

Advancement
Possible career advancements would be to excel in a particular area of surgery, becoming a surgeon’s assistant. Advancement opportunities are available in sales, marketing, and inventory control management as well.