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What is a Surgical Tech?

A surgical technologist is a specially trained individual functioning as an important part of a surgical team. Over the years they have gone by many names including scrub, scrub tech or operating room technician. The surgical tech functions primarily in the operating room environment but may also have other support duties throughout the work day. Their duties could include operation room preparation, patient preparation, passing and removing instruments for the surgeon during the procedure and then preparation of the room for the next patient.


Education can be obtained at the junior college or technical school level. Classes would cover Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Pharmacology, a basic knowledge of operating room procedures and professional readiness which could encompass ethics and standards of practice for the medical professional. Depending upon the program chosen, the individual can graduate from a certificate program or with an associate’s degree. Once the degree or certificate is obtained, the individual can then apply for certification through their national association.


 Most training for the surgical technician will be on the job. The individual will become familiar with operating room procedures, assist with patient care before, during, and after the surgery, and learn specifics associated with each type of surgery performed. The more surgical experience, the more valued the technician becomes. There is even the possibility of specializing in certain types of procedures such as Cardiac or Pediatric. The surgical technician is a highly specialized position.


The vast majority of surgical technicians will be employed in hospital environments. Others could find employment in out-patient surgery centers or with specially trained, traveling surgery teams such as those dealing with organ transplants. Most hospitals value the surgical technician that has experience with multiple types of surgeries but in larger cities with hospitals specializing in certain areas of care, the surgical technician with a focus on their specialty becomes the highly valued candidate. The U.S. Department of Labor has indicated that this particular position has greater than average growth potential over the next decade due to technological advances for surgery as well as the aging population and their need for surgery grows.