How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Virginia
A surgical technologist is an allied health professional working in the front of surgery and medicine. These trained professionals work in the operating room with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses, providing technical assistance. They are responsible for preparing the operating room and keeping it clean, sterilizing equipment, getting patients ready for surgery, and directly assisting surgeons during procedures. [En Español]
This is a hands-on and exciting career that doesn’t take long to train for and that can provide a good income and job security. To become a surgical technologist in Virginia, you do not have to be licensed, but it is strongly recommended that you complete an appropriate educational program and register with the state as a certified professional.
Registered Surgical Technologists in Virginia
Virginia, like many states, does not require that surgical technologists be licensed to practice. However, unlike other states, Virginia does offer voluntary registration. Those who register with the state are allowed to use the title “registered surgical technologist.” Holding this title proves that you have a certain level of education, knowledge, and training, and helps when applying for jobs. Some employers may require that their surgical techs are registered.
Requirements for Registering in Virginia
To register and gain the title of registered surgical technologist in Virginia, you must meet one of three requirements:
- Be currently certified through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
- Have completed surgical technology training in the armed forces
- Have worked as a surgical technologist before July 1, 2014
Most people seeking to register in Virginia will meet the first requirement. To be certified through the NBSTSA requires passing the organization’s exam. To be eligible to take the exam you must have completed a certificate program or an associate degree program in surgical technology. The program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
To remain certified, surgical technologists must take at least 15 credits of continuing education courses every year. These must be approved by the NBSTSA. Surgical techs must also renew the certificate every four years.
Registering in Virginia is through the Department of Health Professions. Surgical technologists must apply with a $75.00 fee and documentation to prove NBSTSA certification or one of the other two requirement options.
Surgical Technology Programs in Virginia
Virginia is home to several schools that offer either certificate or degree programs in surgical technology that are accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES. Completing one of these programs will make you eligible to take the certification exam and, with a passing score, register with the state of Virginia.
- Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke. Jefferson’s program in surgical technology offers students the chance to earn a two-year associate degree. This surgical technology program is completed with five semesters of coursework, including hands-on experience in a real medical clinic. Jefferson’s surgical technology graduates have a 100 percent passing rate on the NBSTSA certification exam.
- Riverside College of Health Careers, Newport News. Riverside’s program in surgical technology is also an associate degree program. It takes as little as 18 months to complete and includes basic anatomy, physiology, and medical instruction, as well as surgical procedures and surgical patient care coursework.
- Piedmont Virginia Community College, Charlottesville. At Piedmont, students can choose to work toward a certificate in surgical technology in just three semesters. There are 42 credit hours of coursework to complete, and students are prepared to pass the certification exam after graduation.
Allied Health Education Programs in Virginia
For those who are already working in the health care field, or those interested in switching to a new career, Virginia offers several programs that may lead to surgical technology certification. These programs usually take two semesters of full-time study and include coursework such as medical terminology, pharmacology, and clinical experience. Courses are available at community colleges, universities, and online.
Additionally, some programs can be completed in one semester and are specifically geared toward those who have prior healthcare experience. These courses focus on surgical procedures, patient care principles, and communication techniques. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will receive a certificate of completion which may help qualify them for taking the certification exam.
With a combination of medical training, clinical experience, and certification, surgical technologists in Virginia can be successful in their chosen fields. With continuing education courses, they can remain current with the latest technology and advances in the field. With an eye toward patient safety and quality care, these professionals are essential to providing high-quality care to patients in Virginia.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
The outlook for careers in surgical technology is positive throughout the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Updated 01/05/2021), job growth nationally in this field is 6 percent, which is faster than average. In Virginia, the growth is closer to 9 percent. There were 2,100 employed professionals in this field in 2020. By 2030, there are projected to be enough positions to employ 2,280 surgical technologists in the state.
Surgical technologists in Virginia also earn more than the national average for this career. The average annual salary in 2021 for surgical techs in the state was $48,070, as compared to $48,530 nationwide. There are opportunities to earn a higher salary with experience as a registered and certified surgical technologist. Salary conditions in your area may vary.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Virginia
Most surgical techs are employed by hospitals and work in operating rooms. The majority of these professionals work with all types of surgeons, but some may work only with obstetricians, pediatric surgeons, or other specialists. Some of the biggest hospital employers are Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond and the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. In addition to hospitals, surgical techs can find employment with ambulatory surgery centers and in dental and physician offices that perform minor surgical procedures.
Taking the time to complete an appropriate educational program in surgical technology can lead you to a rewarding career working hands-on with patients in hospitals and medical centers. It takes just two years or less in Virginia to be prepared for this exciting work.