Degree programs in surgical technology are not available fully online due to the clinical nature of this field of study, but hybrid 2-year programs that can be completed partially online are available. Students seeking fully online programs in the medical field may want to consider medical assistant programs. Both Associate of Occupational Studies in Medical Specialties and Medical Assistant Associate of Applied Science degrees are available in a fully online format which offer a broad foundation that can prepare for entry level positions in the medical field. Previous college education and practicums may be required for these types of programs.
For programs focused on surgical technology, introductory and theory-based courses are available in an online format, though hands-on lab and clinical work must be completed on-campus. A postsecondary certificate or associate's degree is required to work as a surgical technologist. A few states regulate surgical assisting, so check with state regulations before choosing an educational program.
Associate's Degrees in Surgical Technology
Online associate's degrees in surgical technology teach students to assist surgeons and other operating room personnel. Students learn how to set up and monitor the equipment used during surgery and how to provide technical support and patient care before, during, and after an operation. Classes blend online academic study with in-person labs and clinical experiences. Enrollment in an associate's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED, with preference given to applicants who performed well in math and science courses.
Information and Requirements
Online surgical technician associate's degree programs are offered in a hybrid format. Academic courses may be completed online, lab courses are completed at schools and clinical practicums are completed at participating medical facilities. For the online component, readings, lectures, and assignments are accessible through a school's website at the students' convenience. Each student must have a personal computer, Internet access, and basic word processing and presentation software to participate in an online program.
Common Surgical Technician Courses
Online associate's degree programs in surgical technology require courses in health sciences, safety procedures, and general education. Many of the online courses are paired with in-person lab courses that reinforce lecture-based material.
Surgical Technology Introductory
Students in this course receive a broad overview of the multiple roles surgical technicians perform as part of perioperative teams. Standard precautions, patient health histories, surgical positions and proper scrubbing, gowning, and gloving techniques are among the topics covered.
This course covers the classifications and uses of surgical instruments along with procedures for proper care and handling. Topics addressed include sterilization and preparation methods.
Students learn the elements of preoperative patient care and the specific duties of surgical technicians during abdominal, obstetric, cancer, and orthopedic surgery in this course. Biohazards, intra-operative complications, and care of specimens are also considered.
This course covers the therapeutic effects of drugs, the biological factors affecting drug response and the interactions between drugs. The pharmacopeia's implications for successful surgical outcomes receive particular emphasis.
An online surgical technology associate's degree qualifies graduates for positions as surgical technicians (also known as surgical technologists). Hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and surgeons all employ surgical technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of surgical technologists will increase 15%, faster than average for all occupations, from 2014-2024. Growth will be driven by the need for more surgical procedures as the baby boom generation exceeds retirement age. According to the BLS, as of May 2015, surgical technologists earned a median annual salary of $44,330.
Continuing Education Information
Surgical technician graduates have better prospects for employment if they are certified. Certification may be obtained from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or from the National Center for Competency Testing by passing a national certification exam. Certified surgical technicians either need to earn 60 credit hours of continuing education over a 4-year period or pass the exam at the end of four years to maintain their certification.
Postsecondary certificates and associate's degrees in surgical technology can be found partially online, using hands-on coursework and online study to teach students to assist surgeons in their duties before, during, and after an operation. Professional certification is available several organizations and can greatly improve employability.