Take Your Career on the Road – Working as a Traveling Surgical Tech

A career as a surgical technologist is one of many great options in the healthcare industry. If you’re thinking of starting a new career in this field you’ll have more choices to make, such as where to work. Surgical techs can take on long-term positions or become traveling workers, filling in at hospitals around the country for a few months at a time. Whether working as a permanent or traveling tech, you’ll have no trouble finding a job. The number of positions for surgical technologists is growing at a fast rate of 12 percent with thousands of new jobs becoming available.

What is a Surgical Technologist?

A surgical technologist, or just surgical tech, is a healthcare professional who assists and works with surgeons and other members of the team in the operating room. A surgical tech’s duties usually include getting the operating room ready for procedures by gathering and sterilizing instruments and other materials, making sure equipment is working and prepping the patient.

These allied healthcare professionals also stand by and assist as needed during surgical procedures, handing over instruments and supplies. They play an important role in maximizing safety for patients by ensuring the environment is sterile and the surgeon is prepared. This is a career that is rewarding and meaningful, but it is also physically demanding. Most surgical techs work in hospitals but may also work in outpatient surgery centers.

What is a Traveling Surgical Tech?

While many surgical technologists are hired at one location, such as a hospital, and work there for long periods of time, others choose to travel and work on shorter assignments at various locations. Small and medium-sized hospitals often have a need for extra techs to fill in for employees on sick leave or maternity leave. They may also need to use a traveling technologist to cover duties while seeking out a new permanent hire.

Traveling surgical technologists usually are hired by and work for staffing agencies. These are companies that fill vacancies and that usually specialize in a particular industry, such as healthcare and medical jobs. The positions you get as an agency tech may be for a few weeks, a few months or a year or longer, depending on needs. The locations can also be anywhere, typically in the U.S., but you may be able to find positions abroad as well.

The Benefits of a Traveling Job

It’s smart to consider the pros and cons of working as a traveling surgical technologist before making this career decision. There are several benefits and reasons that people choose this kind of nomadic lifestyle:

  • You get to travel and see new places.
  • You get to know new cities and states more in-depth by living and working there for weeks or months at a time.
  • You can work on professional connections and network throughout the country.
  • You may earn more as a traveling tech, as staffing shortages mean that hospitals will pay more.
  • There are also often incentives, like signing bonuses, housing and travel expenses.

The Downsides to Being a Traveling Tech

For someone who loves to try new places, meet new people and wants to see the country, or the world, a career as a traveling surgical technologist is a great opportunity. But there are some downsides too, and this job is not for everyone:

  • You may be moving away from family and friends.
  • You will leave behind new friends and colleagues when an assignment ends.
  • Moving a lot can feel isolating and lonely.
  • You have to adjust to new work settings.
  • Some states require certification or licensing for surgical techs, so you may need to become a certified surgical technologist.

Ultimately, the decision to be a traveling or a permanent surgical tech is a personal one. For some people, the idea of moving to new cities is exciting and fun, while for others it seems like a chore and lonely. If you do want to enjoy this career, start by checking out surgical tech programs at your local community or career colleges.

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