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Operating Room Technician Certification and Diploma Program Info

Operating room (OR) technicians, also called surgical technologists, assist surgeons, nurses and physicians before and during surgical procedures. They prepare the operating room, manage equipment and perform basic surgical tasks. This article provides an overview of this career.

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Operating Room Certificate and Diploma Programs

Surgical technology programs are available through hospitals, vocational schools and community colleges. They take approximately one year to complete and are offered as certificate or diploma programs. Applicants become familiar with operating room equipment and procedures. In addition to classroom work, they typically include a clinical element.

Educational Prerequisites

Aspiring operating room technicians must have a high school diploma or GED for admission. Applicants must also submit to a criminal background check and drug screening.

Course Topics

Many courses in a surgical technology program focus on actual operating room procedures; however, students also learn through lab studies and internships in hospital operating rooms. Examples of course topics include these:

  • Patient care techniques
  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Surgical procedures
  • Aseptic techniques
  • Infection and immunology

Popular Career Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that jobs for surgical technologists were expected to increase by 25% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). This growth is mainly attributed to an anticipated increase in surgical procedures as the population ages. Popular career options include the following:

  • Surgical technologists
  • Surgical technicians
  • Operating room technicians
  • Scrubs

Continuing Education Information

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers voluntary certification for operating room technicians through its Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam. Eligible candidates must have earned a minimum of a certificate or diploma from an accredited program and must pass a certification examination. To maintain certification, candidates must complete 60 hours of continuing education.

The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) also offers certification to individuals who meet the requirements. Surgical technology programs also are available at the associate's degree level. Graduates of 2-year programs in the field may find more and better job opportunities.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics