An surgical tech associate’s degree program prepares students to join the healthcare industry as a surgical technician or surgical technologist. These two-year programs encompass basic career knowledge and hands-on skills for surgical techs, as well as medical background knowledge and a small amount of prerequisite general education.
Students of surgical tech associate’s degree programs can expect to study subjects such as:
- Surgical and Sterilization Techniques
- Patient Care Practices
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Life Sciences
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About Surgical Technician Careers & Training
Most surgical techs hold an associate’s degree, but a certificate is also an option for those who already hold a degree in another field. While an associate’s degree program typically lasts around two years, a certificate program may only last several months, and includes only career-focused training.
As a prerequisite to most surgical tech associate’s degree programs, high school students are encouraged to take classes in sciences such as biology, chemistry and health, as well as mathematics classes. This will help create a strong foundation on which to build the intensive medical education students receive in postsecondary courses.
Surgical techs work in hospitals and outpatient surgery centers, where they are part of the surgical team that operates on patients on a daily basis. A surgical tech’s job duties can fall under three basic categories: pre-surgical duties, duties during surgery, and post-surgery duties.
While a patient is getting ready for a surgery, a surgical tech preps the operating room by sterilizing instruments, setting up sterile drapes, and ensuring all machines are in working order. They then prep the patient by washing or shaving any incision areas, transporting them to the operating room, and positioning them on the table.
While an operation is in progress, the surgical technician is helping the surgeon by handing them instruments, monitoring vitals, and responding to incidents such as excess bleeding or irregular machine function, if necessary.
Once a surgery is complete, the surgical tech transports the patient to recovery and resets the operating room for the next surgery. This involves re-sterilizing instruments, cleaning up any surfaces that need cleaning, and re-stocking any supplies that have depleted.
A surgical technician’s salary depends on a number of factors, but is typically around $40,000 per year.