How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Iowa
Do you have a strong stomach and thick skin? These are two qualities that may best describe someone who could have a successful career in surgical technology. You must also be meticulous, can make critical decisions quickly, and enjoy working as part of a team. Lead surgeons will benefit from surgical techs and assistants who are collaborative, efficient, and dedicated to the craft. Patients will be comforted by surgical techs who are compassionate and reassuring before, during, and after the surgical process. You can expect to be responsible for preparing patients for surgery, handling medical tools during surgery, and sterilizing the operating room after a procedure is completed. [En Español]
Difference between Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
Surgical technology and surgical assisting are not the same. A surgical technologist will typically prepare the operating room for surgery, help with pre-op treatments, assist during the procedure, and help clean up afterward. They work directly under the surgeon’s supervision and will be responsible for providing sterile supplies, instruments, and equipment to ensure a safe operation.
Surgical assisting, on the other hand, involves more direct involvement in surgical procedures. They may help with positioning the patient, making incisions and suturing wounds, and monitoring vital signs during surgery. Surgical assistants will also provide feedback to the surgeon throughout the procedure and help to ensure that all necessary tools are available.
Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Iowa
Throughout the U.S., there are a small number of states that currently have legislation to regulate the surgical technology profession. Iowa is not included in this list, instead allowing individual employers to determine what level of expertise is necessary for aspiring surgical techs.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are two of the most trusted organizations accrediting surgical technology training programs across the nation. If you want to advance in this career, your best choice would be to enroll in an educational program accredited by either of these organizations.
To enroll in a post-secondary education program in surgical technology, you will need to provide proof of a high school diploma or GED. If you want to be proactive, find a local internship or medical professional offering hands-on training while you are completing your coursework. This real-world experience makes you a valuable candidate to potential employers, reassuring them that you already have a foundation of knowledge within the trade.
Surgical Technology Programs in Iowa
Iowa is home to several colleges that offer surgical technology training programs accredited by the CAAHEP. Some of them are listed below:
- Iowa Lakes Community College offers both a diploma and an AAS degree program in surgical technology, which will take one or two years to complete, respectively. The cost of tuition is about $5,300 per year, and campuses are located in Algona, Emmetsburg, Estherville, Spencer, and Spirit Lake.
- Iowa Western Community College offers an AAS degree in surgical technology which can be completed with either a part-time or full-time commitment. The program length is four semesters and one summer, and the campus is located in the city of Council Bluffs. The current cost of tuition is $5,216 per year.
- Kirkwood Community College offers a one-year diploma in surgical technology, which is designed to be completed in three semesters. Tuition is approximately $5,000 per year, and the campus is located in the city of Cedar Rapids.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers the exam to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). Depending upon your employer, this certification may or may not be mandatory. Either way, it is in your best interest to pursue this national certification, as it will be recognized throughout the country. This certification shows that you have the expertise needed to function in your role independently.
The exam fee is $290. To sit for this exam, you will have to provide official documentation of your completion of an NBSTSA-recognized surgical technology program. All surgical technology programs accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES will be recognized by the NBSTSA. Proof of completion of a military training program in surgical technology is also acceptable. To remain a CST, you will need to retake this exam every four years or provide proof of 60 credit hours of continued education during the four years between exams.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
In 2016, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that there were 700 people employed as surgical technologists in Iowa. By 2026, PMP estimates that there will be a total of 770 people working in this field.
The highest-paid surgical techs in Iowa earn $59,770 annually, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2021. The average hourly wage for surgical techs in this state is $22.45, which equals an annual average salary of about $46,690.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Iowa
Aspiring surgical technologists can look forward to a 6 percent national expansion in the job market during the 10 years from 2021 to 2031, according to the BLS. If you’re interested in the areas where surgical techs receive the highest pay in Iowa, you should look for employment in cities like Ankeny, Des Moines, and Urbandale.
Surgical technologists work in hospitals, surgical clinics, outpatient facilities, or other professional environments where delicate medical tools and equipment are handled. Specializing in a particular area of surgery can also bring you greater fulfillment within the trade. These possible areas of specialization include cosmetic surgery, bone surgery, heart surgery, and more. Decide if surgical technology is the right field for you and choose to get started right away.