A surgical technician, sometimes called a surgical technologist, operating room technician, or scrub, works side-by-side with surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists to provide patient care in operating rooms.
Surgical technicians prepare rooms for surgery by making sure equipment, instruments, and drapes are sterile and ready for use. They also ready patients for surgery by cleaning, shaving, and disinfecting surgical sites and also physically moving them into the operating room and getting them set up on the table.
Surgical technicians then assist surgeons and surgical assistants throughout the operation by holding and passing instruments and may help in moving the patient into recovery.
To enter surgical technician training, a high school diploma or its equivalent is required. Specialized training lasts between 9 and 24 months, and students may earn a diploma, certificate, or associate degree.
Professional certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or the National Center for Competency Testing is an option and preferred by many employers.
Surgical technician training consists of instruction in subjects such as anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, medical terminology, and ethics. Students also learn the proper methods for handling and sterilizing operating room equipment along with other activities that are a part of the daily duties of a surgical technician.
Salaries of surgical technicians vary by education level, experience, geographic location, and other factors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008 the median annual wages of surgical technicians were $38,740 with the lowest 10% earning less than $27,510 and the highest 10% making more than $54,300.
Surgical technicians who work in specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals earned the most at $40,880 followed by those in outpatient care centers with median yearly wages of $39,660.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “much faster than average” job growth for surgical technicians, especially for those who are certified and open to relocating for work.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics