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Scrub Technician Education and Training Program Information

Learn about certificate and diploma programs in surgical technology. Get information on prerequisite education, coursework, certification options and career opportunities for graduates.

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Essential Information

Prospective scrub technicians usually receive their training through diploma or certificate programs in surgical technology at community colleges and technical schools. These programs include classroom and clinical practice and take approximately two semesters to complete. Students learn how to sterilize and prepare the operating room before surgery, pass surgical instruments during surgery and provide care to patients after surgery. Clinical externships are held at a hospital or a doctor's office. Graduates of surgical technology programs may go on to obtain professional certification.

Education Prerequisites

Most surgical technology programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Applicants should have also completed high school classes in algebra, biology and chemistry with a grade of 'C' or better. Other program prerequisites include obtaining CPR certification through the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross and completing a pre-entrance physical exam, which is conducted by the applicant's physician.

Program Coursework

Surgical technology diploma and certificate programs offer students core medical courses without general elective requirements. These core courses emphasize basic clinical skills as well as the structure, function and care of the human body before, during and after surgery. Courses that provide this knowledge include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Infection control techniques
  • Surgical procedures
  • Surgical wound care
  • Patient care techniques

Popular Career Options

Besides finding employment as a scrub technician, graduates of surgical technology diploma or certificate programs may also work in the medical field as a:

  • Central sterilization technician
  • Obstetrical technician
  • Anesthesia technician
  • Tissue and organ transplant technician
  • Surgical sales representative

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide information for scrub technicians, it does provide employment information for surgical technologists. This field is projected to grow 19% from 2010-2020, which is about average for all occupations. The BLS also stated that surgical techs earned a mean annual wage of $43,480 in May 2012.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of surgical technology diploma and certificate programs may sit for a certification exam to obtain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. The computer-based exam, which is given by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, is available to graduates of surgical technology programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Although the process is voluntary, most employers prefer to hire certified professionals.

Graduates of diploma and certificate programs may also continue their education and earn an associate degree in surgical technology. In order to obtain the degree, students would need to complete liberal arts courses along with advanced clinical courses. Credits from diploma and certificate programs may be transferred.

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