How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Massachusetts
Surgical operations are important procedures in which everyone involved must be meticulous and precise. Lead surgeons may often get all the credit for a successful operation; however, they receive the help of an entire surgical team to get the job done.
Surgical technologists are key components of these surgical teams. These individuals ensure that all medical equipment is being handled properly, sterilizing instruments before surgery begins. Surgical techs also ensure that medical tools and materials are strategically placed during surgery, and they hand these tools to the surgeon during the operating process. When surgery is completed, surgical techs prepare operating rooms for the next procedure. [En Español]
Difference between Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
Before becoming a surgical technologist in Massachusetts, prospective students should understand the difference between this profession and that of a surgical assistant. While both play an important role during surgery, the duties of each are slightly different.
Surgical technologists prepare the operating room for surgery, ensuring that only properly sterilized instruments are used. They also help keep the operating room clean and organized, handing instruments to the surgeon as needed.
Surgical assistants, on the other hand, are more involved in the actual surgery process. They work alongside surgeons, helping with suturing and other procedures. In addition to their surgical roles, they also help track medical data during surgery and may assist in post-surgical care.
Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Massachusetts
Certain states have laws in place to regulate the surgical technologist profession, and Massachusetts is one of them. Massachusetts law states that hospitals and clinics cannot employ or use the services of any surgical technologist unless the person has either:
- Completed an accredited educational program for surgical technologists and holds and maintains the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential
- Completed an accredited school of surgical technology but has not, as of the date of hire, obtained the certified surgical technologist certification, provided that such certification will be obtained within 12 months of the graduation date
- Been employed as a surgical technologist in a surgical facility on July 1, 2012
- Completed a training program for surgical technology in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States or in the United States Public Health Service
- Is performing surgical technology tasks or functions in the service of the federal government, but only to the extent the person is performing duties related to that service
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health allows medical facilities to hire surgical technologists who do not meet these requirements only under the circumstance that the clinic or hospital has made every effort to employ a CST but is unable to employ enough qualified surgical techs for its needs.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are the two most trusted organizations for accrediting medical schools across the U.S. You will need to attend a surgical technologist training program that is accredited by either of these organizations if you want to become a surgical tech in this state.
Documented proof of a high school diploma or GED will be necessary for enrollment into any one of these accredited training programs. When you find a program that is right for you, you should also seek to gain some hands-on experience through a local internship at a surgical facility or hospital. Your employer may not require you to have this real-world experience, however, it will be a great addition to your list of qualifications. This experience will also help prepare you to sit for the national exam that certifies you as a CST. This national exam is detailed below.
Surgical Technology Programs in Massachusetts
Those interested in becoming a surgical technologist in Massachusetts must first complete an accredited academic program from an approved institution, such as a community college or university. The program should include courses on anatomy, medical terminology, pharmacology, and other related topics.
The CAAHEP has accredited several schools for surgical technologists throughout the state of Massachusetts. Some of these schools are as follows:
- Bunker Hill Community College, located in Boston, offers a certificate program in surgical technology, which is designed to be completed in 11 months. During the spring semester, students will spend two days per week in area hospitals and will work in these facilities full-time during June and July. Students must also undergo a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check and a Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check. The results of both checks could affect your admission into the program. In state-tuition is currently $4,855 per semester.
- Massachusetts Bay Community College also offers a certificate program in surgical technology. Applicants must undergo both CORI and SORI checks. Additionally, applicants will need to have either a Healthcare Provider Card from the American Heart Association or a CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer Card from the American Red Cross. These are the only two CPR certifications acceptable for this program. The program can be completed in one year, and tuition ranges between $7,000-$14,000 for residents, and $15,000-$18,000 for non-residents.
- Quincy College supplies graduates with a certificate in surgical technology, which can be completed in just 10 months. CORI and SORI checks are also performed for students before admission. Tuition is about $5,524 per semester.
- North Shore Community College features a certificate program in surgical technology that can be completed in one year. Courses include medical terminology and anatomy, pharmacology, surgery techniques, instrumentation, and patient care techniques. Applicants are required to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Tuition is $4,706 per semester for Massachusetts residents and $7,756 for non-residents.
Allied Health Education Programs in Massachusetts
There are numerous allied health education programs available in the state of Massachusetts if you are interested in pursuing a career as a surgical tech. These include:
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, located in Boston, offers an associate degree program in medical laboratory science and a certificate program in clinical laboratory sciences.
Northeastern University in Boston offers a bachelor of the science degree program in health sciences.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, located in Boston, has an allied health studies program that can be completed online.
University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester provides students with a master’s degree in healthcare quality management.
Salem State University, located in Salem, has an associate degree program in healthcare technology management.
These are just a few of the available options for those interested in pursuing a career as a surgical technologist. Most programs require students to complete both classroom and clinical work, as well as an internship at a healthcare facility or hospital. Students should research their school’s specific requirements before enrolling.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists in Massachusetts
Since certification is required in Massachusetts, you will need to take the exam provided by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) to become a CST before finding employment. Surgical technologists are highly encouraged to earn this certification even in states that do not require surgical techs to be certified.
The exam fee is $290, and you must provide official documentation that you’ve completed an NBSTSA-recognized surgical technology program before sitting for this exam. Any surgical technology program accredited by the CAAHEP or the ABHES will be approved by the NBSTSA. Alternatively, you can provide proof that you’ve completed a military training program in surgical technology. You should expect to recertify every four years by either retaking the exam or providing documentation that you’ve completed at least 60 credit hours of continued education in surgical technology during the four years between exams.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
In 2016, 3,090 surgical technologists were working in Massachusetts, according to data from the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). By 2026, there are expected to be a total of 3,360 people employed as surgical techs in this state alone.
Surgical techs in Massachusetts make an average hourly wage of $29.02, or $60,360 annually, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2021. The same data shows that the highest-paid surgical techs in this state make around $78,870 annually.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Massachusetts
The job market for surgical techs is projected to expand by 6 percent nationally within the 10 years from 2021 to 2031, according to the BLS.
Entry level surgical technologists in Massachusetts have excellent prospects for employment and can look forward to an expected growth rate of 2.3 percent between 2019 and 2029, according to PMP data.
If you’re interested in joining this trade in Massachusetts, you should be aware that the highest earners in surgical technology work in cities like Arlington, Boston, and Brookline. Environments like hospitals, surgical clinics, or outpatient facilities are a home away from home for surgical techs. You may find yourself working in any medical area involving surgery, from labor and delivery to neurology. If you’re passionate about helping patients receive quality care, paying attention to detail, and assisting in important medical procedures, you should consider becoming a surgical technologist.