Training leads to careers to work in a surgical unit or behind the scenes
Schoolcraft College is offering two new rigorous, exciting health care programs. If your goal is to become an important member of a surgical team, there are two very different options. The first is to train to become a key behind-the-scenes worker. The second is the opportunity to work directly in the operating room.
Each program is set up so that students can start in one option and decide to go into the other option. With an aging population leading to an increase in surgeries, each position is in demand and will continue to be in the future.
Taught in the brand-new Health Sciences Center, Surgical Services offers the Sterile Processing Skills Certificate and the Surgical Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. The new facilities feature the Surgical Services Suite, which is used for training and has all the equipment found in a real-world working environment.
“There is a huge demand for these jobs. The need for trained surgical support professionals continues to grow,” said Mary Jo Nowicki, BHSA, CST, FAST* and subject matter expert, who helped develop the Surgical Services programs. “These new programs at Schoolcraft College are a great fit for students graduating from high school, other professionals seeking a second career, or anyone looking to enter the medical field.”
Behind the scenes or hands-on?
The Sterile Processing Skills Certificate prepares graduates for a career as a Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST), commonly referred to as a Sterile Processing Technician. In this role, they work with the Surgical Service department to inspect, process and distribute safe instruments and equipment to the surgical unit and the healthcare facility. Central Services is the department responsible for decontamination, disinfection, sterilization, packaging, storage and distribution of medical supplies and equipment.
“The sterile processing technician’s work is one of the most important pieces in preventing infection and there are not enough certified registered central service technicians to fill the open jobs,” Nowicki said. “The CRCST’s work means a much lower post-infection rate with best patient outcomes and is a vital role.”
Successful students are prepared to sit for the national Certified Registered Central Service Technicians (CRCST) exam. The CRCST is an integral part of a multidisciplinary health care environment that works as a division of Surgical Services.
The Surgical Technology AAS degree prepares graduates for a career as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), commonly referred to as a Scrub Tech. This person works under the surgeon to establish and maintain a sterile field while assisting with instruments and supplies during each surgical procedure. Surgical Technologists are responsible for preparing the operating room and surgical field as well as making sure all necessary items are available for surgical procedures. During the case, they pass instruments and supplies to the surgeon while working in the sterile role. They are the specialists of sterile technique.
“Becoming a surgical technologist is the fastest entry into operating room patient care. Surgical technologists scrub in, and it is the surgical technologists who are part of the sterile surgical team,” Nowicki said.
Students are prepared to sit for the national Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam to earn their credential. Students must demonstrate competency knowledge of perioperative case management prior to entering a clinical internship.
The clinical experience offers students hands-on surgical patient care through multiple surgical service specialties. Students will work under the auspice of the surgeon as well as the surgical team to gain the scrub experience required for eligibility to sit for the national Certified Surgical Technologist exam (CST) credentialing exam offered through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).
A closer look at the career outlook and programs
Sterile Processing Skills Certificate
- Typical employers include hospitals, surgery centers and medical offices. Further education and training can lead to a career as a Surgical Technologist, or work in health care management or materials management.
- The Sterile Processing Skills Certificate is 19-21 credits.
- Full-time students can complete this in two semesters following the curriculum guide.
- Not all courses are offered each semester. Students should work with an Academic Advisor to develop a schedule that will work for them.
Surgical Technology AAS degree
- Typical employers include hospitals, surgery centers and medical offices.
- Further education and training can lead to careers as a Surgical Assistant, Surgical PA, or work in health care management, materials management and teaching.
- The Sterile Technology AAS degree is 65.5-70.5 credits.
- Full-time students can complete in two and a half years (including Spring/Summer terms) following the curriculum guide.
- The educational and clinical learning experiences requires approximately 40 hours of participation per week in the second year of the program.
- Not all courses are offered each semester. Students should work with an Academic Advisor to develop a schedule that will work for them
- Students planning to transfer should check the transfer institution’s requirements/guides or discuss their options with an academic advisor. Number of credits may vary depending on the course selection.
“The new Health Sciences Center is exceptional, and I have never heard of a school supporting the training in Surgical Services as thoroughly as Schoolcraft College,” Nowicki said.
*BHSA stands for Bachelor of Health Service Administration. CST stands for Certified Surgical Technologist. FAST stands for Fellow of the Association of Surgical Technology.