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Surgical tech training provides students with the basic medical knowledge and hands-on skills needed for employment as surgical technologists. These medical professionals work in hospital surgery units and other surgical environments, but do not need the same level of training as a surgeon or physician.
Surgical technician training programs encompass essential medical knowledge and terminology, as well as surgical practice and techniques.
The most common types of training received by surgical technicians are associate’s degrees and certificates. Diplomas are also available for students who do not have prior college experience and who do not wish to pursue an associate’s degree. Surgical tech training programs typically last from a few months to a year for certificate programs and diplomas, and around two years for an associate’s degree.
Surgical tech course work varies from program to program, but fundamental training covers subjects such as:
A good surgical technician training program also teaches students how to think critically, act decisively, and remain calm under pressure. Associate’s degree programs additionally include general education topics such as math and communications, which help to build a solid educational foundation that can be used to advance further, or even to move into other professions.
According to Health Professions Network, the most popular credential for surgical technicians is the associate’s degree, because it is more in depth and relatively well rounded. These training programs supplement core surgical tech courses with a few general education courses such as English composition, algebra, communications, foreign language and critical thinking. This provides a multifaceted education that leads to a more professional demeanor, or can be adapted to other occupations.
Surgical tech certificate programs, on the other hand, are intended mostly as a bridge between an existing degree and the surgical technician core course material. These programs pass over general education topics to focus primarily on surgical knowledge and techniques, and are preferred by surgical techs who already hold previous healthcare degrees. This surgical tech training option is well suited to those who are shifting careers.
The main difference between these two training options is program length, as well as the associated cost.
The third option, diploma programs, offers a similar training focus to certificate programs, without the requirement of existing college education. These programs are valuable as a fast, relatively affordable means to entering the job market as an entry-level surgical technician.
Many surgical technician training programs include an externship, which consists of supervised experience working as a surgical technologist in a local hospital. Students participating in externships perform typical surgical tech duties under the supervision of a physician or lead surgical tech, with work performance affecting the externship grade.
Participation in an externship program is a great way for surgical tech students to use their training, build work experience, and create professional connections early in their careers.
Program requirements for surgical techs depend on the credential sought. Associate’s degree programs and diploma programs require only a high school diploma or GED, while certificate programs usually require some college experience, and possibly an undergraduate degree.
Though no particular high school classes are required for entry into a surgical tech training program, some recommended classes that can build familiarity with course concepts are:
Some schools may recommend that potential students enroll in a basic college math course prior to applying.