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Surgical Technician Job Description, Duties and Employment Info

Surgical technicians, commonly referred to as surgical technologists, operating room (OR) technicians or scrubs, work alongside surgeons, surgical assistants, nurses and anesthesiologists during medical procedures. Job opportunities for technicians are expected to be above average in the coming years.

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Job Description of a Surgical Technician

Surgical technicians assist surgeons and other medical professionals in hospital operating rooms and similar environments. Chiefly, they prepare patients, rooms and equipment for pending surgical procedures. They also assist during those procedures as part of a team of operating room professionals.

Job Duties

In preparing operating rooms, surgical technicians ensure that all of the equipment needed for the procedure is properly disinfected and assembled. They also check that the equipment is in working order. They place sterile solutions in areas where they can be easily reached by doctors.

To prepare patients for surgery, surgical technicians may clean, shave and disinfect the areas of a patient's body that will be operated on. They then move patients to the OR and position them on the operating table, using sterile surgical drapes to cover them. Monitoring patients' vital signs and observing their status is another job responsibility of a surgical technician.

During surgery, surgical technicians pass sterile surgical equipment, such as scalpels and forceps, to surgeons. They also might cut sutures, keep track of items like sponges and needles, operate lights and help dress a patient's wounds. Additionally, surgical techs are sometimes responsible for the preparation and disposal of lab specimens.

After surgery, a surgical technician generally transports a patient back to his or her room. He or she then returns to the OR to clean and prep for the next surgery.

Employment Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 25% increase in the employment of surgical technologists from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). This projected increase was partially attributed to a growing elderly population that is expected to require more surgical procedures in the coming years.

The mean annual salary for surgical technologists was $40,710 in May 2009, according to BLS figures. Roughly 70% of the surgical tech workforce found employment in general medical and surgical hospitals. Surgical technologists working in the offices of specialty health practitioners, like chiropractors and optometrists, earned the highest average salary, at $56,220.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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