How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Utah
Medical patients are in a vulnerable state when entering an operating room for surgery. Surgical technologists need to be attentive to the needs of patients when preparing them for surgery. Gentleness and a calm demeanor are necessary for a successful operation. Additionally, surgical techs will need strong attention to detail and the ability to take direction well. You may be responsible for transporting patients from hospital beds onto surgical tables, ensuring the proper handling of medical instruments and equipment during an operation, and sterilizing operating rooms when surgery is complete. [En Español]
Difference between Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
Surgical technologists and surgical assistants are both important roles in a hospital’s operating room. While they may share some tasks, they do not have the same responsibilities and qualifications. Surgical technologists typically work to prepare the patient and operating room for surgery, while surgical assistants help with actual medical procedures during an operation. Additionally, surgical technologists must hold an associate degree in the field, while surgical assistants do not have to have a specific educational requirement.
Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Utah
Several U.S. states, including Utah, do not set laws to regulate the practice of surgical technology. In states like these, it will be left up to each employer to determine if you are qualified to do the job. However, taking proactive steps such as enrolling in an accredited surgical tech program and obtaining national certification will help you establish your skillset and expertise before seeking employment.
When looking for schools, it is important to find programs that will provide you with a quality education to ensure a more successful career. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are two highly-regarded accrediting organizations setting standards for medical schools across the U.S. If you want to receive a top-notch education as a surgical technologist, you will want to find a school on either of these lists. Enrolling in one of these programs is also an eligibility requirement to sit for the national voluntary exam that will certify you as a surgical technologist.
If you worked for the hiring department of a hospital, you would likely seek out the most qualified candidates to ensure that patients receive the best care. Hence, in addition to your education as an aspiring surgical tech, adding an internship to your resume will undoubtedly set you apart from other candidates during your job search. Previous hands-on experience will help employers see you as someone who already knows a significant amount about job functions, standards, and best practices within the trade. Some surgical tech programs will offer this real-world experience as part of your education. However, if you attend a school that does not offer this type of training, finding an internship at a local hospital or medical facility could greatly increase your chances of finding employment immediately upon graduation.
Surgical Technology Programs in Utah
While the ABHES currently has no schools accredited for surgical technology in Utah, the CAAHEP lists multiple schools as suitable for surgical techs in the state. A few of these programs are listed below:
- Davis Technical College allows students to complete a certificate program in surgical technology, which can be earned in as little as 10 months. Tuition for this surgical technology program is currently about $4,844. Students must pass a drug screen, and criminal background check and have prior work experience or education in the health care field. It is required that this prior experience involved some degree of patient care.
- Dixie State University allows offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in surgical technology, which will take two years to complete. Tuition and fees are currently $5,832. Students will complete laboratory demonstrations, which will involve hands-on practice as well as supervised clinical experiences in actual patient-care facilities.
- Mountainland Technical College offers a certificate program in surgical technology. As part of this program, students will learn surgical technology basics including asepsis, microbiology, and infection control. Tuition is currently $3,668, and the program can be completed in one year.
Allied Health Education Programs in Utah
In addition to surgical technician programs in Utah, there are many different allied health education programs offered. Some of these include:
Salt Lake Community College offers a variety of degrees and certificates in various medical fields, including nursing, radiological technology, medical coding, and HIM. Tuition for the associate’s degree program is currently $3,619.
Weber State University offers a variety of certificates and degrees in different medical fields, such as physical therapy, sonography, radiologic science, and healthcare administration. Tuition for the certificate program is currently $3,509.
Utah Valley University has associate’s degree programs in medical assisting and radiography. Tuition for these programs is currently $3,596. Students may also pursue a certificate in medical imaging and radiation therapy, which has a tuition of $2,633.
These are just some of the schools offering allied health education in Utah. Taking classes at any of these schools will help you prepare for a career as a surgical technologist or another medical professional.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
Surgical technologists in Utah are not required by law to be certified before finding employment. That said, becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) will be a priority for anyone looking to advance in this career. This certification is nationally recognized, and some states require that you have it before practicing. Earning this certification will allow you to work in multiple states throughout the U.S. You may also find that some employers are willing to pay you more for having this credential.
You can become a CST by completing the exam offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). It is required that you pay a $290 exam fee and show that you’ve completed a surgical tech training program accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES. If your surgical tech training program was completed in the military, you will also be eligible to sit for this exam.
After earning your certification, you will need to recertify every four years with the NBSTSA. You can do this by retaking the exam or by showing that you have completed an additional 60 credit hours of coursework during the four years between exams.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
The surgical technology trade employed 1,350 people in 2016, according to data released by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). In the decade between 2016 and 2026, there is expected to be a 37.8 percent increase in the number of surgical techs working in this state. This means there will be approximately 1,870 surgical techs working in Utah by 2026.
On average, surgical techs earned about $22.60 per hour in 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. While the average annual income was $47,000, the top 10 percent of surgical techs in the state made $62,520 during the same year.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Utah
Careers in surgical technology will continue to be on the rise throughout the state of Utah. This signifies that now is a prime time to join the trade. Working as a surgical tech could bring you lots of variety, as you may have the opportunity to assist in several different types of surgeries.
Some surgical techs choose to become specialized in a certain area of the trade, participating solely in brain surgeries, heart surgeries, or bone surgeries for example. You can find employment in places like local hospitals, outpatient facilities, private practices for cosmetic surgeries, or OB/GYN clinics.
Competency testing is becoming more common in surgical tech hiring.
The highest-paid cities for surgical techs in this state include Saint George, Sandy, and West Jordan, Utah. If you’re seeking a rewarding career that will be exciting and full of opportunities, you should consider surgical technology.