History of Surgical Technology
Surgical Techs in
In America, technologists can cite their beginnings to the battlefields during the succession of world wars participated in by the United States: World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the Vietnam War (1945-1975). Because nurses were not allowed on the battlefield or on combat ships, the US Army used “medics” who worked under the supervision of the surgeon. In the US Navy, they would use medical “corpsmen” aboard the combat ships.
Out of need, a new profession was born within the military called an ORT (Operating Room Technician).
Due to the need for more medical personnel, an accelerated nursing program emphasizing operating room technology was set up. This was delivered via on-the-job training to existing nursing assistants. Part of their studies included patient care, sterilization of instruments, draping, instrumentation and sutures were emphasized.
After the Korean War in the 1950s, hospitals were experiencing a severe shortage of operating room nurses. Those men who had received training to aid military surgeons on the battlefield were given positions in hospitals to make up for the shortage.
Improvements in the surgical technology field started in the late 60’s and led to the formalization of the role in the 70’s. As time progressed more institutions began developing standards for surgical technologist programs.
Sadly, surgical technologists are not very well known compared to their other professional counterparts, yet they have played a crucial role throughout history of assisting surgeons during their procedures.
16th Century – Surgical technologists from 16th century England were known as beadles. One of the most noteworthy beadles in history is Mr. Rampley. He worked at the London Hospital in the late 1800`s and invented the needle holder that bears his name.
1967 – AORN (Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses) published a book: Teaching the Operating Room Technician
1968 – AORN created the AORT (Association of Operation Room Technicians)
1969 – AORT forms a couple of committees: LCC-ST (Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist) and the Joint Committee on Education. The LCC-ST is now known as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
1970 – The first certification examination was given with successful applicants being given the title of: Certified Operating Room Technician (CORT).
1973 – AORT becomes independent of AORN
1974 – A body of accreditation was established to ensure applicants receive quality education.
2005 – The NBSTSA relocated its headquarters to Littleton, Colorado.
From these humble beginnings, we now boast professional advances from simplistic on-the-job training to formal educational programs all over the world. These programs are offered by the military, technical schools, colleges. Their roles and responsibilities have expanded greatly and there are now well over 400 accredited surgical tech programs in the U.S.
Surgical Technology Today
Surgical technologists are now highly accredited medical professionals. The majority of techs (over 70%) work in hospital settings around the world. There are many who also work in surgery centers and dental offices. With over 400 tech programs in the U.S. alone, every year brings new faces to the industry. Generally they take part in a 2 year diploma program to start, with further accreditations later on.
Surgical techs stand for long period of time and must wear the proper scrubs and other protective equipment. They work long hours, weekends, nights and on-call for emergency surgeries. Their contributions to the surgical team are an invaluable addition.
in the Future
Surgical technologists have a bright future for their career prospects. This is a growing profession that is expected to increase by 19% by 2020. This is faster than average for all occupations in the United States. This is a result of expectations in the rise in surgical procedures that will be performed as the population ages. Also, technological advances such as robotic, laser and fiber optic surgeries will increase the number of new surgical procedures being performed. Surgical technologists will be required for all of these advancements.
Scope of Practice for the Surgical Technologist
A surgical technologist is an allied health professional who works as part of an OR team providing surgical care to patients in a variety of settings. According to Job Description: Surgical Technologist, a statement approved by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA), and Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), “surgical technologists work under the supervision of a surgeon to facilitate the safe and effective conduct of invasive surgical procedures, ensuring that the operating room environment is safe, that equipment functions properly, and that the operative procedure is conducted under conditions that maximize patient safety.”
The majority of surgical technologists work in hospital surgical suites, emergency rooms, and outpatient surgical centers. Some surgical technologists are privately employed by physicians or work as self-employed technologists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for surgical technologists continues to grow as the population ages and the necessity of surgical procedures continues to rise. A high school diploma or equivalent is a prerequisite to becoming a surgical technologist. Students then must complete a surgical technologist training program. Accredited programs vary from nine to 15 months for a diploma or certificate to two years for an associate’s degree. After completing training, surgical technologists can take the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) national examination offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To be eligible for testing, individuals must be graduates of a surgical technology program accredited by the CAAHEP or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or a current or previous CST.