How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Montana
If you want to be a surgical technologist, you will need a particular skillset and level of expertise. Since you’ll be interacting with patients on a regular basis, you must be attentive, empathetic and able to maintain a calm demeanor. It will also help if you’re good at encouraging others and making them feel comfortable. Additionally, you’ll need to keep your energy levels high, so you can maintain focus for extended periods of time.
Some surgical procedures will last longer than others, so be prepared to remain observant. You must also work well on teams. You’ll be responsible for the proper handling and placement of all medical instruments during surgery, sterilizing operating rooms and materials before and after operations, and following the specific directions of the lead surgeon during surgery. [En Español]
Prerequisite Courses for Surgical Technologists in Montana
In order to become a surgical technologist in Montana, you’ll first need to obtain some formal education. You will likely need to enroll in an accredited college or university that offers a degree program specifically for surgical technologists. Typically, these programs include courses on medical terminology and procedures, human anatomy, physiology and medical ethics. Prior to starting your program, you’ll likely need to complete a few prerequisite courses such as biology and chemistry.
Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Montana
Each year, a number of states may consider legislation to regulate the practice of surgical technology. While some states have successfully passed laws governing this profession, others do not currently have laws in place for surgical technologists. Montana is one of many states that does not require surgical technologists to follow certain regulations before becoming employed.
Being successful at this career will require you to be proactive. If you take the initiative to receive quality education, you will set yourself up for a career that has longevity. To maintain high educational standards within the medical profession, there are two trusted U.S. organizations that accredit medical schools throughout the nation. These organizations are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Attending a school on either of these lists will be a wise decision to help you excel as a surgical technologist. The voluntary national exam that will make you a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) also requires that you attend a school from either of these lists.
While you are completing coursework, it is a great idea to enroll in an internship program at a local hospital or private practice. Being able to shadow other surgical technologists and gaining hands-on experience will make it easier to find employment when you graduate. Some schools will require you to gain this experience as part of their curriculum, but if your school does not set this requirement, you can take things into your own hands by reaching out to medical professionals and finding available opportunities to shadow or intern.
Surgical Technology Programs in Montana
Attending an accredited school will open many doors within the medical profession. While the ABHES currently lists no accredited schools for surgical technology in Montana, the CAAHEP lists three:
- Flathead Valley Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology, which can be completed in two years. Requirements for admission include an interview, an essay and evidence of CPR certification. The program tuition will be between $8,000-$10,000 for in-state students and about $18,000 for out-of-state students.
- University of Montana also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology. Core classes must be passed with a minimum “C” grade, and tuition is currently about $7,000 for in-state students and $25,000 for out-of-state students. The surgical technology program can be completed in two years.
- Great Falls College – Montana State University allows students to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology. The program can be completed in two years, and tuition costs about $12,409. The core curriculum also requires students to become CSTs before graduating.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
While the state of Montana does not have legislative requirements for surgical technologists, at least one of the accredited programs available in this state will require you to sit for the national exam to become a CST before graduating. There are states that will require you to have this certification before finding employment, so if you decide to attend a school that does not require you to sit for this exam before graduating, it is still in your best interest to do so.
This certification will allow you to practice in any state and will exemplify your existing level of expertise to potential employers. Once you’ve completed the appropriate coursework and training, you’ll be eligible to obtain certification as a surgical technologist in Montana. To do this, you must pass an exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). After passing the exam, you’ll be a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) in Montana.
The exam and certification process to become a CST is handled by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To sit for this exam, you must pay an exam fee of $290 and provide proof that you’ve completed a surgical tech training program accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES. If you’ve taken a surgical tech training program in the military, you will also be eligible to sit for this exam. You can expect to recertify with the NBSTSA every four years by either retaking the exam or providing proof that you’ve completed at least 60 additional credit hours in coursework over the four-year period between exams.
Allied Health Education Programs in Montana
While surgical technology is a specialization within the medical profession, there are many other allied health degrees and certifications available in Montana. Popular programs include:
• Nursing – Practical nursing, BSN/RN, MSN/NP
• Medical Assisting – Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
• Dental Assisting – Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Radiology Certification
• Pharmacy Technician – Registered Pharmacy Technician (RPhT)
• Physical Therapy Aide – Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant (LPTA)
Earning an allied health degree or certification will help you enter into the medical field in a position that best suits your skills and interests. Each program will come with different prerequisites, so it is important to research the requirements of each school before applying.
Additionally, many Montana hospitals offer volunteer opportunities or internships in medical fields such as surgical technology that can give you an edge when looking for a job. If you are considering a career in surgical technology, it is important to research all of your options and take full advantage of the opportunities available in Montana. Once you have completed your program, be sure to get certified with the NBSTSA to maximize your chances at landing a job.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
In Montana, there were about 460 people working as surgical techs during 2016, according to Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) data. By 2026, we can expect to see an additional 90 jobs added to the field in this state, signifying a 19.2 percent expansion in the job market during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026.
Surgical techs in this state earned an average of $24.64 per hour, or $51,260 annually, in 2017 according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Top earners in the field in Montana earned an annual average of $66,780 during the same year.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Montana
Surgical technology is expected to continue to flourish as a career for at least the next several years. The BLS estimates that this job market will see 12 percent growth nationally by 2026.
To make the most out of your career, it is a great idea to become a specialized surgical technologist so you can do the work you most enjoy. Becoming specialized simply means that you would participate mainly in certain types of surgeries, like orthopedic surgery, bone surgery or heart surgery. You can expect to find employment in private practices for cosmetic surgery, outpatient clinics or other specialized surgical facilities.
In Montana, you will likely earn the most as a surgical tech in cities like Billings, Kalispell and Great Falls.
If you enjoy being a team player and playing a significant role in the lives of surgical patients, this could very well be the career of your dreams.