Surgical technologists, also known as operating room technicians, play a massive role in surgical procedures. They may not hold the scalpel or suction pumps. Still, they remain indispensable to any surgery process thanks to their primary duty of ensuring the operating room is in optimal condition before surgery.
As with any allied health profession, becoming a practicing surgical technologist often requires rigorous training and education. Thankfully, the path to this particular profession is more manageable than others.
Below, we take a detailed look at a few education roadmaps and alternatives that can be followed by anyone looking to become a surgical technologist.
Surgical Technology Possible Degrees & Certificates
Many surgical technologist schools offer two degrees - associate’s in science (AS) and associate’s in applied science (AAS). Other schools offer either a certificate program or a bachelor’s degree.
The most common alternative, the associate’s degree, takes one to two years to complete. Certain schools also offer accelerated associate’s degree programs that can be completed as early as nine months.
Apart from the degree alternatives of the school, another criterion an aspiring surgical technology student must consider is the accreditation status. Accreditation is crucial for transfers and plays a massive role in subsequent certification once the program has been completed.
Accreditation of Surgical Technology Schools
To become certified and increase their chances of employment, surgical technology students must take an exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).
Graduating from an accredited program is an essential prerequisite to sit for this exam. Accreditation for surgical technology programs often falls towards a few accrediting bodies, the most popular of which are CAAHEP - the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, and ABHES - the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
Surgical Technology Degree and Certification Programs
Below is a list of popular colleges and institutions offering accredited degree and certificate programs in surgical technology:
College of Southern Idaho
Students who enroll in the surgical technology program at the College of Southern Idaho can earn an associate’s degree in two years. The program consists of 62 credits, including microbiology, anatomy, procedures, aseptic technique, and instrumentation courses.
CAAHEP accredits the College of Southern Idaho’s surgical technology program, and as such, graduates automatically qualify to sit for the national certification exam.
The school is located in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Carrington College has Arizona and California campuses, and both offer opportunities to earn an associate’s degree in surgical technology via a 15-month program. Required courses include physiology, microbiology, anatomy, surgical procedures, and pharmacology.
Students who graduate from this program can sit for the certification exam once they are ready. Thanks to its CAAHEP accreditation, certification is also relatively straightforward.
Hood Community College
Another school that offers an associate’s degree in surgical technology via a two-year program, Mt. Hood Community College graduates get to enjoy clinical experience along with a Core Curriculum specified by the Association of Surgical Technologists.
To graduate, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. Thanks to its CAAHEP accreditation, it is possible for students of the program who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree to transfer their credits to the Oregon Institute of Technology’s online program.
Mt. Hood Community College is located in Gresham, Oregon.
Kingsborough Community College
Kingsborough Community College is located in Brooklyn, New York, and offers opportunities for aspiring surgical Technologists to earn a degree via a 2-and-a-half-year program.
In 2020, 75 percent of graduates from the institution passed the certification exam on the first try. The school’s unique approach is to mandate student registration for practicum hours every semester to gain clinical experience.
The program is CAAHEP accredited.
Other alternatives for getting an accredited degree in surgical technology include the New England Institute of Technology located in Rhode Island and South Plains College in Lubbock, Texas.
The former takes two years to complete, while the latter can be completed in 18 months. They are both accredited by CAAHEP.
Online and Hybrid Surgical Technology Degree and Certification Programs
While the options above are well suited for those who are okay with showing up to a physical classroom for most of their time in school, there are few online and hybrid alternatives for those who would like to spend most of their time learning remotely.
Some of the most popular alternatives in this regard include:
Great Falls College - Montana State University
Great Falls College - Montana State University is located in Great Falls, Montana, and offers the opportunity to study surgical technology online. In a CAAHEP-accredited program, students must acquire clinical experience by rotating between Montana clinical sites before graduating.
Central Piedmont Community College
Central Piedmont Community College allows students to take their dietetic and practical courses in a hybrid fashion, meaning that a portion of all the studies will take place on campus. In contrast, the other part can be completed online.
The program is CAAHEP-accredited. It also lasts for two years, involves 70 credits, and students get to graduate with an associate’s degree.
Central Piedmont Community College is located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Baptist Health System School of Health Professionals
Students who enroll in the surgical technology program at the Baptist Health System School of Health Professionals get to earn an associate’s degree and qualify for the National Surgical Technologist certification exam.
The school is located in San Antonio, Texas, and offers courses on campus and online. Topics include instrumentation, sterile techniques, surgical pharmacology, and basic science.
Other online and hybrid alternatives for those seeking a degree or certificate in surgical technology include Seward County Community College, located in southwest Kansas; Rasmussen University, with campuses in Florida, Illinois, and Minnesota; and Southeast Community College, with three campuses in Nebraska.
All of these options are CAAHEP-accredited.