To be a certified surgical technologist, you will have to graduate from a training program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs or the CAAHEP. The CAAHEP is in turn an organization that is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Certificate courses may last from nine months to fifteen months, whereas degree courses could be as long as two years. With basic vocational training, you can become scrub personnel in the surgical team. It is, however, possible to be promoted to the position of a surgical assistant with additional specialist training. After graduating from an accredited course, a multiple choice exam will have to be passed to become a certified surgical technologist.
Surgical technologist exam
Once you graduate as a surgical technologist, you will need to register with the National Boards of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting to be a certified technologist. Certification is widely seen as a mark of quality and efficiency and is therefore something that most employers look for in potential employees. The process of certification usually involves passing a multiple option exam after graduating with a graduate degree as a surgical technologist. Generally, the exam has two stages- one overseen by the National Board for Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or the NBSTSA and the subsequent stage is administered by the NCCT (National Center for Competency Testing).
Steps in the certification process
A good place to start preparation for the certification process and the exams is the NBSTSA website. There is plenty of material that is available on it including an overview of the examination pattern and most information from this website is downloadable. Information on how to proceed with the certification process is also available on the NBSTSA website. Once you are well prepared, you can evaluate yourself with the online practice certification test that is offered by the same website for $ 40. With this useful tool, it is possible to assess exactly what aspect of your preparation needs improvement. Results and comments regarding your performance in the practice tests will be sent to you via email. The practice test comprises of 175 questions and payments for registration will have to be made online by means of a credit card or debit card. Other resources such as online learning tools and review publications are available which may be purchased online.
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Failed certification attempts
Being a certified surgical technologist does come with a lot of benefits. Hence many applicants who are unsuccessful at their first attempt at certification apply again. Each applicant may apply for the certification exam up to thrice in any year with each attempt being at least six weeks after the previous failed attempt.
It is important for certified surgical technologists to note the date of expiry of their certification. Usually, each certification lasts for a period of four years. Renewal of certifications is done by the NBSTSA by one of two ways,
(i) Sitting the certifying exam again and passing it
(ii) By means of credits earned from Continuing Education.
In both cases the appropriate documentation will have to be verified and submitted to the NBSTSA.