Online, Campus & Other Healthcare Programs Available
The surgical tech degree most commonly held by surgical technicians is the associate’s degree in surgical technology, a two-year program offered by most surgical tech schools. Associate’s degrees in surgical tech cover the core subjects of surgical technology in addition to some general education classes. These programs can prepare a surgical technician for entry-level employment and certification, with some potential to advance.
Surgical tech bachelor’s degrees also exist, but are less common.
The specific courses that make up an associate’s degree program in surgical technology vary from school to school, but mostly cover the same core training concepts, such as medical background knowledge, surgical techniques and operating room protocol, including safety and sterilization.
A few typical courses students might encounter in surgical tech associate’s degree programs are:
For example, the surgical technology AAS degree program at Rasmussen College includes core courses in medical terminology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and surgical fundamentals and procedures, as well as general education courses in English composition, algebra and critical thinking.
Some programs require students to complete an externship with a local hospital after the bulk of core courses are satisfied. Externships, where a student performs the job duties of a surgical tech in a live, supervised clinical setting, can provide both professional experience and valuable instruction, and look good on a surgical technician’s resume.
There are a few factors potential students can use to evaluate surgical tech degrees. The most significant ones are accreditation, location, cost, and additional offerings such as career services.
Accreditation – Surgical tech schools are accredited by two primary authorities, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The presence of accreditation from one of these or another reputable organization ensures the degree program provides training that is in line with current industry standards.
Location – Many schools will not accept students who live outside of commuting distance to campus, and attending classes too far away adds another challenge to the already difficult task of going to school. For students who do not live near a surgical tech school campus, online programs can be an additional option.
Cost – Tuition and fees can vary broadly between programs. Some schools offer financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, or assistance with student loans, so comparing finances between degree programs is a wise step to take.
Career Services – Many schools offer career assistance such as recruitment events, a job placement office, or resume and interview assistance.
An associate’s degree in surgical technology offers the best chance for career stability, advancement and flexibility for surgical technicians. Compared with other credentials, associate’s degrees present a complete package including both core courses and the general education courses that best compliment them.
Though associate’s degree programs last longer than diploma and certificate programs, employers prefer them over other types of credential, particularly if the degree is accredited and the tech is certified.