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Become An Operating Room Technician

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Working As An Operating Room Technician

  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Deal with People

  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • $66,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Operating Room Technician Do

Surgical technologists, also called operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help doctors during surgeries.

Duties

Surgical technologists typically do the following:

  • Prepare operating rooms for surgery
  • Sterilize equipment and make sure that there are adequate supplies for surgery
  • Ready patients for surgery, such as by washing and disinfecting incision sites
  • Help surgeons during surgery by passing them instruments and other sterile supplies
  • Count supplies, such as sponges and instruments
  • Maintain a sterile environment

Surgical technologists work as members of a healthcare team alongside physicians and surgeons, registered nurses, and other healthcare workers.

Before an operation, surgical technologists prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment. They also prepare patients for surgery by washing and disinfecting incision sites, positioning the patients on the operating table, covering them with sterile drapes, and taking them to and from the operating room. Surgical technologists prepare sterile solutions and medications used in surgery and check that all surgical equipment is working properly. They help the surgical team put on sterile gowns and gloves.

During an operation, surgical technologists pass instruments and supplies to surgeons and first assistants. They also hold retractors, hold internal organs in place during the procedure, or set up robotic surgical equipment. Technologists also may handle specimens taken for laboratory analysis.

Once the operation is complete, surgical technologists may apply bandages and other dressings to the incision site. They may also help transfer patients to recovery rooms and restock operating rooms after a procedure.

Surgical first assistants have a hands-on role, directly assisting surgeons during a procedure. For instance, they may help to suction the incision site or suture a wound.

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How To Become An Operating Room Technician

Surgical technologists typically need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Certification can be beneficial in finding a job. A small number of states regulate surgical technologists.

Education

Surgical technologists typically need postsecondary education. Many community colleges and vocational schools, as well as some universities and hospitals, have accredited programs in surgical technology. Programs range in length from several months to 2 years, and they grant a diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree upon completion. Admission typically requires a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Surgical technology education includes courses in anatomy, biology, medical terminology, pharmacology, and other topics. Surgical technologists are trained in the care and safety of patients, sterilization techniques, how to set up technical or robotic equipment, and preventing and controlling infections. In addition to classroom study, students also work in supervised clinical settings to gain hands-on experience.

First surgical assistants may complete a formal education program in surgical assisting. Others may work as a surgical technologist and receive additional on-the-job training before becoming a first assistant.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Surgical technologists must pay close attention to their work at all times. For example, they need to provide the correct sterile equipment for surgeons during an operation.

Dexterity. Surgical technologists should be comfortable working with their hands. They must be able to provide needed equipment quickly.

Integrity. Because they are trusted to provide sterile supplies and quality patient care during surgical procedures, surgical technologists must have integrity.

Physical stamina. Surgical technologists should be comfortable standing for extended periods.

Stress-management skills. Working in an operating room can be stressful. Surgical technologists should be able to work well under pressure while providing a high level of care.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification can be beneficial in finding a job. Surgical technologists may earn certification through credentialing organizations.

Certification through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting allows the use of the title “Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).” Certification typically requires completing an accredited formal education program or military training program and passing an exam.

Certification through the National Center for Competency Testing allows the use of the title “Tech in Surgery - Certified (NCCT).” Applicants may qualify through formal education, military training, work experience, or other eligibility paths. All require documenting critical skills and passing an exam.

Both certifications require surgical technologists to complete continuing education to maintain their certification.

In addition, many jobs require technologists to become certified in CPR or basic life support, or both.

A small number of states have regulations governing the work of surgical technologists or surgical assistants, or both.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants, and the American Board of Surgical Assistants offer certification for surgical first assistants.

Advancement

Surgical technologists may choose to advance to other healthcare occupations, such as registered nurse. Technologists may also choose to become a postsecondary teacher of health specialties.

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Operating Room Technician Career Paths

Operating Room Technician
Surgical Technician Registered Nurse
Registered Nurse Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Surgical Technician Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nursing Director
9 Yearsyrs
Surgical Technician Technician Registered Nurse
Senior Registered Nurse
7 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Staff Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Assistant Director Of Nursing
7 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Patient Care Coordinator Office Manager
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Technician Team Leader
Unit Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Patient Care Coordinator Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Clinic Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager
Registered Nurse Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Utilization Review Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operating Room Nurse Staff Nurse Utilization Review Nurse
Nurse Case Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Operating Room Nurse School Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Operating Room Nurse School Nurse Nurse Manager
Chief Nursing Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Staff Nurse Consultant Nurse Nursing Director
Interim Director
10 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Unit Manager
Registered Nurse Unit Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Clinical Research Coordinator Clinical Manager
Clinical Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Nurse Clinical Coordinator
Assistant Nurse Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Emergency Medical Technician Adjunct Instructor Clinical Supervisor
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Physician Assistant Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager
Director Of Quality Management
13 Yearsyrs
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Top Skills for An Operating Room Technician

  1. Surgery
  2. Surgical Procedures
  3. Recovery Room
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assist surgeon during surgery by passing/holding instruments and other sterile supplies
  • Maintain a proper sterile field during surgical procedures by washing and sterilizing equipment using germicides and sterilizers.
  • Assist with the transfer of the patient to the recovery room and cleaning the operating room after surgical procedures.
  • Scrubbed various surgical procedures, maintained aseptic technique practices, circulated and scrubbed on various surgical procedures.
  • Organized and communicated highly detailed planning and time management objectives within the operating room to ensure efficiency and quality patient care.

Operating Room Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

46.1%

Male

41.8%

Unknown

12.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.3%

Hispanic or Latino

16.7%

Black or African American

12.7%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.5%

French

5.9%

Portuguese

3.9%

Swedish

2.0%

Bulgarian

2.0%

Chinese

2.0%

Khmer

2.0%

Dari

2.0%

Russian

2.0%

Korean

2.0%

Italian

2.0%
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Operating Room Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

20.9%

Walden University

8.5%

The Academy

7.0%

LIU Brooklyn

4.7%

University of Florida

3.9%

Naval School of Health Sciences

3.9%

Florida State College at Jacksonville

3.9%

Community College of the Air Force

3.9%

Monroe Community College

3.9%

Northeastern State University

3.9%

Calhoun Community College

3.9%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.9%

Kaplan University

3.9%

George Mason University

3.9%

Grand Canyon University

3.9%

Hillsborough Community College

3.9%

Central Georgia Technical College

3.1%

Ashford University

3.1%

Herzing University

3.1%

Hinds Community College

3.1%
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Majors

Nursing

26.0%

Medical Technician

18.0%

Business

12.5%

Health Care Administration

5.7%

Medical Assisting Services

5.0%

Biology

4.8%

Nursing Assistants

3.5%

Management

2.9%

Psychology

2.8%

Criminal Justice

2.4%

Health Sciences And Services

2.4%

General Studies

2.3%

Liberal Arts

1.8%

Medicine

1.7%

Computer Science

1.6%

Education

1.5%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.3%

Clinical Psychology

1.3%

Physician Assistant

1.2%

Nursing Science

1.2%
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Degrees

Other

30.5%

Bachelors

25.0%

Associate

18.9%

Masters

10.5%

Certificate

8.0%

Diploma

4.0%

Doctorate

2.2%

License

0.9%
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Top Operating Room Technician Employers

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Operating Room Technician Videos

Nurse (Operating Room), Career Video from drkit.org

Life of an Operating Room Technician

Cleaning the Operating Room Between Cases

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