KC will observe National Surgical Technology Week Sept. 17-21. Paula Carter, KC’s surgical technology program director for five years, has planned an event to educate interested students about the fundamentals and requirements of becoming a surgical technologist.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the lobby of the Whitten Applied Technology Building. Refreshments will be served and everyone is invited.
An operating room requires a team of trained medical professionals selected to ensure the success of a surgery. The surgical team may include the operating surgeon, registered nurse, anesthesiologist and a surgical technician, also referred to as techs or scrubs. These techs are certified surgical technologists (CSTs) appointed to remain at the surgeon’s side during surgical procedures while assisting in the safeness and success of a patient’s surgical procedure.
Prior to surgery, the surgical technologist must prepare the operating room to ensure that sterile techniques have been met and surgical instruments have been assembled and properly set up. They must also prepare the patients for surgery by washing, shaving and disinfecting incision sites. A surgical technologist plays a vital role during an operation since the surgeon relies on the tech’s expertise and skills.
Carter says despite the high demand for surgical technologists in recent years, people are still unaware of the details about the profession.
Although the demand for the surgical techs is increasing, only a few are selected to participate in the program each year.
“I can only have 12 students in my program. It has to be a ratio of 12 to 1,” Carter said.
Students have the choice to earn either an Associate of Applied Science or a Certificate in Surgical Technology. The Associate of Applied Science requires 66 credit hours while the Certificate in Surgical Technology requires 51 hours. Some students defer from earning the associate degree because of the college-level math requirement.
“People have a strong phobia about math,” Carter said. “I tell the students it looks better on paper and the associate degree is the preferred method, but (because of math) they just want to do the certificate which is fine and they can still get a job, still get paid.”
Students interested in pursuing a career in surgical technology must be interviewed by Carter prior to being accepted into the program. The program is 10 and a half months, starting in the fall and continuing through Summer I.
To become AST certified, students are required to take a national exam once their courses are complete. The exam is taken on campus at the Testing Center.
“We usually take that in July as a class,” Carter said. “They actually have job placement through the association. Hospitals call me all the time…do you know anybody in this area…I need a tech bad.”
Surgical technologists not only work in an operating room, but also can become sales representatives for medical supply companies. A sales rep often travels from state to state informing and referring hospitals and doctors’ offices to surgical equipment.
“Because we use it in the field first hand, we know how the product works,” Carter said.
The average yearly earning for a surgical technologist working in a hospital is between $29,000 to $36,000.
“Employment of surgical technologists is expected to increase 19 percent from 2010 to 2020,” Carter said.