Surgical technologists receive their training in formal programs of study. Surgical technology programs are offered by community and junior colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military.
Currently more than 400 surgical technology educational programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Programs range in length from one-year certificate or diploma programs to two-year associate degree programs. All programs include classroom instruction and from 500 to 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.
Surgical technologists subject areas include:
• Medical terminology, professional ethics, and legal aspects of
surgical patient care
• Anatomy and physiology, microbiology, anesthesia, and pharmacology
• Sterilization methods and aseptic technique
• Instruments, supplies, and equipment used in surgery
• Surgical patient care and safety precautions
• Operative procedures and biomedical sciences
• Supervised clinical practice in the operating room must include commonly performed procedures in general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, plastic surgery, urology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, thoracic surgery, and cardiovascular and peripheral vascular surgery.
Other studies cover the care and safety of patients during surgery, transporting and positioning patients, sterile techniques, and operating room procedures. They learn about environmental dangers and common surgical complications. Studies may also include suturing, prosthetics, and anesthesia.
In order to qualify for graduation students must be competent in performing the most frequently scheduled operating room procedures. In the supervised clinical practice students get experience in the most common surgical procedures, and the opportunity to practice handling instruments. They learn to sterilize and take care of surgical supplies and equipment, prevent and control infection, and handle special drugs, solutions, supplies, and equipment. They learn techniques for keeping the operative process sterile, scrubbing techniques, and the duties of the circulating technologist.