Surgical Technologist

Nurse Anesthesiologist

Job Description:

Surgical technicians are members of operating-room teams, assisting surgeons, nurses, and other surgical team members during operations. Duties include preparing the operating room (setting up surgical equipment, such as sterile instruments and solutions), checking equipment to ensure it is working properly, and prepping patients for surgery (washing, shaving, and disinfecting areas on patients where incisions will take place.) During surgery, technicians will pass instruments and supplies to surgeons and surgeon's assistants, as well as monitor patients' vital signs, help dress wounds, and sometimes help operate sterilizers or diagnostic equipment.

Work Environment:

Most surgical technicians work 40-hour weeks, although hours/shifts may vary as hospitals function round-the clock. Technicians may be on call or work nights, weekends, or holidays, depending on need.

Technicians work in clean, well-lit, sanitary environments. They are required to stay on their feet for long periods of time, and attention to details and the ability to follow instructions are at a premium.

Education and Training Requirements:

Employers prefer to hire properly trained and certified technicians. There are formal training programs offered in community and junior colleges, vocational schools, and universities, as well as in hospitals and in the military. A high school diploma is required for admission to such a program. Programs last nine to 24 months and lead to a certificate, diploma or associate's degree.

After completing formal programs, technicians can advance their careers by specializing in a particular area of surgery, or working as a circulating technician, the member of a surgical team who runs the gamut of responsibilities during operations, from patient prep and interviews, to assisting with anesthesia and answering the doctor's questions about the patient during surgery.

Salary Range:

Median annual earnings of surgical technologists were $31,210 in 2002. This includes median salaries of technicians working in physicians' offices ($33,790) and those practicing in general medical/surgical hospitals ($30,590). Technicians earned as much as $43,470 and as little as $21,920.

Most veterinary technician professionals receive annual earnings of $20,641 - $41,603. Meanwhile, those who have pursued continuing studies program, and acquired relevant trainings usually earn more than $41,772.

Job Outlook:

Generally good. The number of surgical procedures is expected to rise as the population ages. People over 50 years of age generally require more surgical procedures, and as the baby boomer generation gets older, the amount of older patients will make up a larger portion of the population. Also, technological advances in fiber optics and laser technology will allow for new surgical procedures to be performed, and technicians will be in need to assist with these new procedures.

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