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General Surgery Technologist Job Description, Career as a General Surgery Technologist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Associate’s degree and certification

Average Salary $40,000 per year

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

General surgery technologists often work in delivery rooms, hospitals, physician’s clinics, or outpatient treatment centers to assist doctors performing a variety of surgical procedures. Technologists are usually the one to prepare a patient for surgery by shaving, disinfecting and washing the body parts that will be operated on. They are also required to prepare the room for surgery by sterilizing equipment, setting up any equipment needed for the procedure, and setting up the patient for surgery by situating them on the operating table and covering them with sterile drapes. They will also assist the surgeon before, during and after surgery by helping them apply sterile gloves and gowns, checking the patients vital signs, and checking and updating charts and paperwork.

Education and Training Requirements

To become certified as a general surgery technologist, candidates are required to get an Associate’s degree in health sciences or a related study. High school courses that will help with education include biology, health, and chemistry. Once the degree is obtained, surgery technologists must complete a state administered test in order to become certified. Surgery technologists become licensed through the National Board of Surgical Technology and are usually required to renew their license every 5 years.

For many degrees and certifications for general surgery technologists, a certain number of hours working in the actual doctor’s office as an intern or apprentice is required. Hands-on training while working under a surgeon or technician is common before completing a certification and working in the field.

Getting the Job

Aside from becoming certified and experiencing hands-on training, getting a job as a general surgery technologist requires specific skills that will ensure they are an ideal candidate for the job. A surgery technologist will be able to handle intense situations. They will not perform surgery, but must be able to handle witnessing surgeries being performed and act quickly if a surgeon suddenly needs assistance or a tool that is not in the surgery room. They will also need a solid grasp of surgical procedures to understand what is going on at all times. Someone who shows an interest and knowledge of medicine and the human body is an ideal candidate for the job as a general surgery technologist.

Many times, a student studying to become a general surgery technologist will work as an intern under a surgeon to gain the hands-on training that is needed. Once a technologist becomes certified they have the potential of turning an internship into a full-time career. In order to obtain a career as a technologist, the student will have to show they are capable of working quickly with both hands, emotionally stable, and capable of handling the uncomfortable sights or smells that may accompany a surgical environment.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in general surgery technology are continually on the rise as the baby boomer generation begins to age and require more surgical procedures to be done. Advancements in medical technology and new surgeries being performed also contribute to the increasing need for surgery technologists.

After working in the field for some time, a general surgery technologist may further their education to specialize in assisting specific types of surgery, become a main surgical assistant for a number of doctors, or even become a physician’s assistant or nurse. Working at any level of the medical field allows for career advancement, as hands-on experience in the field is key to understanding the requirements within a higher field.

Working Conditions and Environment

A general surgery technologist spends most of their time in the doctor’s office or surgery room preparing them for surgery as well as sterilizing and stocking tools that will be used. The rooms are typically cool, dry and well-lit to provide a comfortable environment for surgeons and patients.

Surgery rooms can also get messy and sometimes uncomfortable due to the nature of surgeries being done, and many times it is the surgery technologist’s job to clean everything up and prepare it for the next surgery. Technologists must also be prepared to work long or odd hours, as some surgeries can take an entire day or require extra last-minute work. If these situations arise, a technician will need to stick around until the surgery is completed.

In some instances, surgeons are on-call in case of a last minute emergency procedure that needs to be done. If this is the case, the technician may be required to come in to assist the surgeon as well, so working unexpected midnight hours or weekends is often part of the job.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a general surgery technologist is $40,000 per year. However, the more experience a technologist develops, the more opportunity they have to work for a bigger hospital or surgery clinic. If a technologist becomes specialized in a surgery field such as heart surgery or in a delivery room, there are other advancements that can come up related to that specific field.

Doctors, nurses and technologists in medical establishments are always secure with excellent health benefits. Their jobs often require working odd or long hours, so taking care of them is important to the employer. Most workers will receive a health benefits package as well as sufficient vacation and sick time along with their salary.

Where to Go for More Information

American Medical Association
515 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60654
(800) 621-8335

Association of Surgical Technologists
6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 200
Littleton, CO 80120
(800) 637-7433

Health Professions Network
1850 Samuel Morse Drive
Reston, VA 20190
(703) 708-9000

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine