Online Schools for Surgical Technicians: How to Choose

Jan 02, 2019

Due to the hands-on requirements, surgical technician certificate and degree programs that offer initial training in the field are not available in an exclusively online format, but partially online programs are offered at some schools; fully online degree completion and re-certification programs are available as well. This article will help you see what you should look for when choosing a school for surgical tech training, such as the level of study offered and if they meet certification and licensure requirements.

How to Select an Online Surgical Tech School

Surgical technology programs are offered by various colleges in a partially online format. Online surgical technology programs offer certificates as well as associate's and bachelor's degrees. Some programs require previous experience in the field prior to enrollment. Some states mandate licensing for the profession, and optional certification may increase job opportunities.

Certification & Licensure

Some states require surgical technicians to be licensed, registered or certified. Students should check with their state's regulation board, ensuring that an online educational program satisfies credentialing requirements. Professional certification, whether mandatory or optional, is often strongly recommended by medical employers.

Certification through both the National Center for Competency Testing and the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist requires completion of a program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). All CAAHEP-approved programs include a clinical internship.

Program Format

Surgical technology programs are normally offered in either a traditional on-campus format or, less commonly, in a hybrid format that allows students to take some classes online and attend campus only for the necessary clinical experience. Prospective surgical technology students should compare the residency requirements of the programs they consider to be sure they are comfortable with those requirements before beginning classes.

Online Education Options for Surgical Technicians

Surgical Technician Certificate

A surgical technician certificate program is typically designed for those who are recertifying as surgical technicians after certification has lapsed. This program may be offered fully online; however, only those who have completed an approved training program or possess the necessary experience as surgical technicians are typically permitted to enroll. Classes include:

  • Surgical instrumentation
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Surgical procedures
  • Intro to surgical technology

Associate's Degree for Surgical Technicians

A surgical technician associate degree program may be offered in either traditional or hybrid format. Students in a hybrid program will likely take courses via unified education software, using electronic methods of communication with professors. Coursework and training consists of:

  • Identification and handling of surgical instruments
  • Medical terminology
  • Surgical procedures and theory

Bachelor of Science for Surgical Technicians

Most online bachelor's programs allow students who have completed an associate's degree program and clinical experience requirements to earn a 4-year degree in health studies. Licensure is not often required to apply to a completion program, but schools typically expect students to obtain licensing, if it is required by the state. Courses build on previous studies and experience, enhancing a student's knowledge in:

  • Health and human services public policy
  • Community health issues
  • Medical ethics

Schools with Online Programs for Surgical Technicians

Northern Arizona University offers an online program in allied health that may prepare students for careers as surgical technicians. In this program students may earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Surgical Technology. Students in this program are required to complete a capstone course in allied health. To enter this program, students need to have or be pursuing an associate's degree in allied health, earn state certification or licensure after earning their associate's degree and possess a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Students who live within 400 miles of Lincoln, Nebraska, can enroll in an online Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology program at Southeast Community College. Courses are offered online, but students must travel to one of the school's campuses to complete labs and other in-person requirements. They are responsible for arranging for a clinical site in their area to complete the practical portion of their training.

While most programs for surgical technicians are on-campus or hybrid programs, a few are offered online. These programs typically require students to have already completed or be close to completing an associate's degree with a certification, license or registration as a health care provider.

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