Online Surgical Tech Degree Program Options
As of June 2010, surgical technology is an expanding occupational category providing a competitive salary and stable career prospects. Although distance-learning programs in this area aren't abundant, several schools do offer associate's degree programs online for aspiring surgical technicians and technologists.
Online Associate's Degrees in Surgical Technology
Online associate's degrees in surgical technology teach students to assist surgeons and other operating room personnel. Students learn how to set up and monitor the equipment used during surgery and how to provide technical support and patient care before, during and after an operation. Classes blend online academic study with in-person labs and clinical experiences. Enrollment in an associate's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED, with preference given to applicants who performed well in math and science courses.
Program Information and Requirements
Online surgical technician associate's degree programs are offered in a hybrid format. Academic courses may be completed online, lab courses are completed at schools and clinical practicums are completed at participating medical facilities. For the online component, readings, lectures and assignments are accessible through a school's website at the students' convenience. Each student must have a personal computer, Internet access and basic word processing and presentation software to participate in an online program.
List of Common Surgical Technician Courses
Online associate's degree programs in surgical technology require courses in health sciences, safety procedures and general education. Many of the online courses are paired with in-person lab courses that reinforce lecture-based material.
Surgical Technology Introductory Course
Students in this course receive a broad overview of the multiple roles surgical technicians perform as part of perioperative teams. Standard precautions, patient health histories, surgical positions and proper scrubbing, gowning and gloving techniques are among the topics covered.
Surgical Instruments Course
This course covers the classifications and uses of surgical instruments along with procedures for proper care and handling. Topics addressed include sterilization and preparation methods.
Surgical Procedures Course
Students learn the elements of preoperative patient care and the specific duties of surgical technicians during abdominal, obstetric, cancer and orthopedic surgery in this course. Biohazards, intra-operative complications and care of specimens are also considered.
This course covers the therapeutic effects of drugs, the biological factors affecting drug response and the interactions between drugs. The pharmacopeia's implications for successful surgical outcomes receive particular emphasis.
Career Information for Surgical Technician Graduates
An online surgical technology associate's degree qualifies graduates for positions as surgical technicians (also known as surgical technologists). Hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and surgeons all employ surgical technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of surgical technicians will increase 25% from 2008-2018. Growth will be driven by the need for more surgical procedures as the baby boom generation exceeds retirement age. According to Payscale.com, as of June 2010 surgical technicians with 1-4 years of experience earned median salaries of $27,684-$37,044.
Continuing Education Information
Surgical technician graduates have better prospects for employment if they are certified. Certification may be obtained from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or from the National Center for Competency Testing by passing a national certification exam. Certified surgical technicians either need to earn 60 credit hours of continuing education over a 4-year period or pass the exam at the end of four years to maintain their certification.
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