What is a Surgical Technologist? Complete Guide 2023

what is surgical technology

A Surgical Technologist, often referred to as a “scrub tech” or “surg tech,” plays a crucial role in the surgical team. These skilled professionals are the backbone of the operating room, ensuring surgeries run smoothly by preparing and organizing instruments, maintaining a sterile environment, and anticipating the needs of surgeons. Surgical Technologists form an integral connection with Medical Technology, skillfully incorporating advanced tools and procedures into the operating room. Their proficiency ensures the seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies, elevating patient care and contributing to the convergence of surgical expertise with modern healthcare advancements for enhanced surgical interventions and improved patient outcomes.

How to Become Surgical Technologist

Embarking on the journey to become a Surgical Technologist is both rewarding and impactful. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this exciting career path:


Begin by enrolling in an accredited surgical technology program, which can range from diploma courses to associate or bachelor’s degree programs. These programs cover anatomy, pharmacology, and surgical procedures.


Consider obtaining certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). While certification may not be mandatory, it significantly enhances your employability and reflects a commitment to professional standards.

Clinical Experience:

Gain hands-on experience through clinical rotations or internships. This practical exposure allows you to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world surgical settings.

Soft Skills:

Develop crucial soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability. These traits are as vital as technical proficiency in the dynamic environment of the operating room.

By following these steps, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on a fulfilling career as a Surgical Technologist, contributing to the success of surgical procedures and ensuring patient well-being.

Key Responsibilities

1. Preparing the Operating Room

As a Surgical Technologist, my primary responsibility is meticulously preparing the operating room (OR) for surgical procedures. In this crucial phase, I ensure that everything is in order to guarantee a smooth and sterile environment. This involves thorough inspection and arrangement of surgical instruments, confirming the functionality of equipment, and organizing the sterile field. By collaborating closely with the surgical team, I play a pivotal role in creating an atmosphere conducive to successful surgeries.

2. Assisting Surgeons

Surgical Technologists, integral to the surgical team, provide invaluable assistance to surgeons during procedures. With a keen eye for detail, they meticulously organize and hand over instruments, anticipating the surgeon’s needs. Their role extends beyond instrument preparation to creating a seamless, sterile environment in the operating room. By managing the surgical field and collaborating closely with the entire team, Surgical Technologists ensure surgeries unfold smoothly. This collaboration enhances patient safety and contributes to the overall success of medical procedures.

3. Patient Care

As a Surgical Technologist, patient care is at the heart of what we do. In the operating room, we prioritize the well-being of patients by meticulously preparing surgical instruments, maintaining a sterile environment, and collaborating seamlessly with the surgical team. Our role extends beyond technical proficiency; we ensure patients feel comfortable, informed, and safe throughout their surgical journey. From addressing concerns to anticipating the needs of surgeons, our commitment to patient care is unwavering. It’s not just about the procedure; it’s about fostering an atmosphere of trust and compassion, contributing to a positive surgical experience for every patient we serve.

4. Postoperative Duties

After the surgical procedure concludes, the role of a Surgical Technologist extends into crucial postoperative duties. These include:

Postoperative Equipment Care:

Surgical Technologists meticulously clean, sterilize, and organize surgical instruments, ensuring they are ready for future procedures.

Patient Transfer Assistance:

They assist in transferring patients from the operating room to the recovery area, prioritizing comfort and safety.

Collaborative Documentation:

Surg techs collaborate with the medical team to accurately document the details of the surgery for medical records.

Postoperative Monitoring Support:

They provide support in monitoring patients during the initial recovery period, maintaining a continuity of care.

Education and Training

Education and Training

1. Educational Requirements

To become a Surgical Technologist, you typically need to complete an accredited program, earning a diploma, certificate, or degree. Additionally, gaining certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and acquiring clinical experience through internships or rotations is crucial for a successful career.

2. Certification

Achieving certification as a Surgical Technologist is pivotal for career advancement. Accredited by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), this certification validates expertise, ensuring that professionals are well-equipped to contribute effectively to surgical teams. Elevate your career and enhance patient care with this essential credential.

3. Continuous Learning

Staying at the forefront of medical advancements is vital for Surgical Technologists. Continuous learning is key, involving workshops, conferences, and updated certifications. This ensures they’re equipped with the latest techniques and technologies, providing optimal support in the operating room.

Skills Needed

1. Attention to Detail

Precision is crucial to ensure the right instruments are available.

2. Communication Skills

Clear communication with the surgical team is essential for a successful operation.

3. Stamina and Focus

Ability to stay focused during long surgeries and physically demanding tasks.

Advancements in the Field

Surgical technology is a dynamic field, with continuous advancements. Surgical technologists often embrace new technologies and techniques to improve patient outcomes.


In essence, a surgical technologist is the behind-the-scenes hero in the operating room, contributing significantly to the success of surgical procedures. Their combination of technical skills, attention to detail, and dedication to patient care makes them an integral part of the healthcare team.


1. What exactly does a Surgical Technologist do during surgery?

Surgical Technologists play a vital role in the operating room. They prepare instruments, maintain a sterile field, and assist surgeons to ensure smooth surgical procedures.

2. How does one become a Surgical Technologist?

To become a Surgical Technologist, one typically needs to complete an accredited program, obtain certification, and gain clinical experience through internships or rotations.

3. What skills are essential for a successful career as a Surgical Technologist?

Key skills include attention to detail, organizational abilities, a solid understanding of medical procedures, and effective communication in a fast-paced environment.

4. Why is the role of a Surgical Technologist important?

Surgical Technologists are essential for maintaining a sterile environment, preparing instruments, and facilitating efficient surgeries, contributing significantly to patient safety and positive surgical outcomes.

5. Can you outline the typical career path for a Surgical Technologist?

After completing education and certification, Surgical Technologists usually start with entry-level positions, gaining experience that can lead to more specialized roles or even advancement to surgical first assistant positions.

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