How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Arkansas
Surgical technologists are healthcare professionals who play a specific and important role on the surgical team. They are busy working before surgery begins and still after it is long over, to ensure that the surgery runs safely and smoothly. Surgical techs have many responsibilities before, during and after surgery. These include:
- Cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments and the operating room
- Preparing the patient for surgery by cleaning, sterilizing and shaving the surgical site if needed
- Counting the instruments and supplies during surgery
- Handing instruments and supplies to the surgeon during surgery
- Disposing of supplies during and after surgery and taking specimens to the lab
- Taking the patient from the operating room to recovery
- Cleaning the operating room, equipment and instruments after surgery
- Restocking the operating room for the next surgery
If you are interested in a career in healthcare that is exciting and hands-on, you should consider becoming a surgical technologist in Arkansas. [En Español]
Requirements to Be a Surgical Tech in Arkansas
In 2017, legislation was passed that requires surgical technologists to register in the state of Arkansas. Registration is regulated by the Arkansas State Medical Board. To apply to register as a surgical technologist in the state you must complete an accredited surgical technology education program and hold national certification, or you must have completed a surgical technology training program while in the army.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
To register as a surgical technologist in the state of Arkansas you must first pass a national certification exam. This certification can be received through either the National Board of Surgical Technology and Assisting (NBSTSA) or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).
The locations in which you can take the NBSTSA exam in Arkansas are in Fayetteville and Little Rock as well as North Arkansas College in Harrison. Taking an accredited surgical technology certificate or degree program is mandatory to take the NBSTSA exam. This certification must be renewed every four years by showing proof of having taken 60 continued education credit hours during that time or by retaking the exam.
There are several ways to become eligible to take the NCCT exam. You can take the exam if you are currently enrolled in or have recently graduated from a surgical technology program. You also qualify if you are already working as a surgical technologist or if you have completed surgical technology training while in the military. NCCT certification must be renewed annually.
Surgical Technology Programs in Arkansas
To become certified and registered as a surgical technologist in Arkansas you will need to complete an educational program that has been accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These programs will offer students both classroom study and clinical experience and can generally be completed in one to two years. There are seven colleges in Arkansas that offer accredited programs, including:
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The surgical technology program at UAMS in Little Rock can be taken either full time or part time. The full-time program is completed in three semesters and the part-time program in five. The program is comprised of 70 credits: 39 prerequisite courses and 31 surgical technology courses. Sixteen students are admitted into the program each fall semester, and those who graduate will receive an Associate of Science (AS) in surgical technology.
- Baptist Health College. Baptist Health College, also in Little Rock, offers students the choice of a certificate program or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program. To obtain an AAS degree you will need to take 31 credit hours of general education hours first. The certificate program can be completed in one year and the AAS degree program in two. This is a full-time program that includes classroom and clinical hours. Classes begin in January and July of each year.
- North Arkansas College. At North Arkansas College in Harrison students can receive either a technical certificate or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in surgical technology. The program prepares students to take the NBSTSA exam and to work as surgical techs through classroom instruction and hands-on surgical experience. The certificate program consists of 31 credit hours that can be completed in one year, and the AAS degree program is 60 credit hours that can be completed in two years.
Allied Health Education Programs
The Allied Health Education Programs at Central Arkansas Area Vocational School in North Little Rock offers students the opportunity to take either a technical certificate or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program. The certificate requires 32 credit hours that can be completed in one year, and the AAS requires 60 credit hours and takes two years to complete.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Surgical technology careers in Arkansas will increase at a rate of 8 percent in the ten years to 2030, very close to the projected national growth of 6 percent. In 2020, 1,300 surgical technologists were working in the state.
In 2021, the average hourly salary for surgical techs in the state was $22.24, and the average annual salary was $46,270. Actual salary can depend on several factors, including experience and location. More experienced surgical techs within the state can make as much as $59,180 annually.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Arkansas
As a surgical technologist in Arkansas you can expect to find work in places such as hospitals and surgery centers. You may find work in dental and physician offices as well, if they perform minor surgical procedures. If you work in a hospital, you can expect to be on your feet for long periods of time, as you will likely be busy in surgeries during most of your shift. You can expect more jobs to be available in larger cities like Fayetteville and Little Rock.
Once you have completed an accredited program, passed a national certification exam and registered as a surgical tech with the state, you will be ready to work as a surgical technologist in Arkansas.