How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Oregon
A surgical operation only goes smoothly with proper preparation, so it is important to have attentive and highly-skilled surgical team members assisting the lead surgeon during the process. Surgical technologists are often responsible for sterilizing equipment before surgeries and ensuring proper placement of these medical tools for ease of use by the lead surgeon while an operation takes place.
Surgical techs help prepare patients before surgery by dressing the wound or parts of the body where the surgery will be performed. Additionally, surgical techs clean and organize operating rooms after the surgical process is complete. You may have to stand for long periods as a surgical tech, and you must have the ability to listen carefully for any instruction from the surgeon while an operation is taking place. [En Español]
Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Oregon
In recent years, several states have passed legislation to oversee the surgical technology profession. Oregon is one such state. Requirements for practicing in this state include the following:
- A person must complete an educational program for surgical technologists accredited by a national accreditation organization that is approved by the Oregon Health Authority.
- A person must hold and maintain a surgical technologist certification issued by a nationally accredited certifying organization.
Alternatively, if you completed a surgical technology training program in the U.S. military, you will be able to practice in Oregon under the condition that, every two years, you provide your employer with documentation that you’ve completed 16 hours of continued education in the field. Additionally, if you’ve worked as a surgical technologist in any U.S. state during at least two of the three years immediately preceding January 1st, 2017, you will be able to practice in this state without having a certification, under the requirement that you also complete 16 hours of continued education every two years. Oregon law allows this continued education to be completed with college courses, online learning courses, national conferences, or healthcare-sponsored seminars.
If you find employment immediately after completing an accredited training program, you must receive your national certification no more than 12 months after becoming employed.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) provide lists of schools suitable for surgical technologists. These are two trusted accreditation organizations approved by the Oregon Health Authority. To earn your required national certification as a surgical tech, you will need to complete a training program from one of these lists.
To distinguish yourself from the competition, it would be a great idea to participate in an internship while you are completing coursework. Many employers prefer candidates who have prior hands-on experience, so taking this initiative will make things easier during your job search. Some training programs will include real-world experience as part of their curriculum, but if you attend a school that does not offer this, it is a good idea to find a local medical facility that is willing to allow you to do some job shadowing.
Surgical Technology Programs in Oregon
Although the ABHES currently has no schools accredited in Oregon for surgical technology, the CAAHEP lists two institutions suitable for training. They are as follows:
- Mt. Hood Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology. The program will take two years to complete, and tuition is about $11,477 for the entire curriculum. Students who are employed are recommended not to work more than 16 hours per week since this program requires significant time and dedication.
- Concorde Career College also offers a surgical technology diploma program, which can be completed in as little as 18 months. The curriculum incorporates real-world training and off-site clinical experiences. Tuition is currently $23,500 for this program.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
Becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) is required to work as a surgical tech in Oregon unless you meet one of the two exceptions to this law, which are detailed above. Not all states require this certification, but it is helpful to have this credential when seeking employment as a surgical tech in any state. This nationally-recognized certification is a testament to your capabilities of functioning effectively within your role.
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) has eligibility requirements of a $290 exam fee, as well as proof that you’ve completed a surgical technology program approved by the CAAHEP or ABHES. Alternatively, you can show proof that your surgical tech training program was completed in the military.
Oregon law requires that you maintain this certification while you are employed. Every four years, the NBSTSA requires CSTs to recertify. You can do this by retaking the exam. Another option is to show documentation that you’ve completed 60 credit hours of coursework in surgical technology during the four years between exams.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
Oregon is expected to see a 15.3 percent increase in surgical tech jobs during the 10 years between 2016 and 2026, according to data from the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). The data show that there were 1,330 surgical techs employed in Oregon during 2016, and there are projected to be a total of 1,530 people employed in this role by 2026.
You may be pleased to know that surgical techs in this state make an average hourly wage of $29.22, or $60,780 annually. The highest-paid surgical techs in Oregon made more than $77,290 per year in 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Oregon
Nationally, surgical technology will see a job market expansion of 6 percent by 2030, according to the BLS. In Oregon, the highest-paid surgical techs work in cities like Bend, Beaverton, and Lake Oswego.
When seeking employment after completing your training program, you may find opportunities in local hospitals, private practices where surgical procedures are performed, or outpatient clinics where patients may require follow-up procedures. Becoming specialized in a particular area of the surgery could help you earn better compensation and bring you more fulfillment as you progress within this field. Areas of specialization include brain surgery, heart surgery, gastric bypass surgery, plastic surgery, and more. If this career excites you, now is a wonderful time to start your journey as a surgical technologist.