Sterile Processing and Decontamination Course and Certification Info

Sterile processing technicians work in healthcare facilities, usually hospitals, where they sterilize, process and store surgical and laboratory instruments for later use. This job requires training and clinical experience that can be obtained through certificate and associate's degree programs at community and technical colleges. Technicians must also be certified.

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Essential Information

Schools often consolidate sterile processing curricula into two or three comprehensive courses, each taking one entire term. All programs offer clinical experience through school labs, and some provide the chance for additional clinical hours through co-op programs.

Sterilization technology students go over topics such as:

  • Inventories and records
  • Medical equipment
  • Sterilization chemicals
  • Heat-application sterilization systems
  • Health and safety standards

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List of Common Courses

Introduction to Sterile Processing Technology Course

Introductory courses lay the groundwork for the remainder of the program with a survey of the history and development of the sterilization and decontamination processes used in healthcare settings. The importance of controlling the spread of infection is presented through discussion of diseases and germs as they relate to human anatomy and physiology. Students also explore an array of medical and surgical instruments used in healthcare and demonstrate basic knowledge of sterilization and decontamination protocols for this equipment.

Advanced Sterile Processing Technology Course

Upper-level courses expand the scope of learning to include a look at hospital administration, including quality control, billing, accreditation, budgeting and management. Students become familiar with the hospital organizational structure and how it relates to sterile processing. For example, emergency services, inpatient and outpatient care, surgery and rehabilitation departments all use sterilized equipment. Quality assurance, ethics and legal topics are discussed through the analysis of case studies.

Sterile Processing Technology BIO Course

This segment of sterile processing programs delves further into specific methods of sterilizing healthcare equipment, and students must show an understanding of the principles involved. Special attention is paid to learning how to recognize when instruments need repair or maintenance. At this stage, students also begin learning how to monitor appropriate sterilization levels, package equipment and properly store equipment until distribution. Universal and standard precautions are reviewed. Most programs include a unit on writing reports and keeping accurate records.

Sterile Processing Lab Course

Students practice all phases of what they have learned, from simple cleaning to decontamination and sterilization. By the end of the course, they are expected to demonstrate competency in packaging, storage, record keeping, distribution and adherence to quality and infection control regulations.

Sterile Processing and Decontamination Certification Information

Sterile processing technicians must be certified. Certification requirements typically include completion of a training program, 400 hours of clinical practice and a passing score on the certification exam. Tests are administered by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution and the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management.

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