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Surgical Technologist Vs Respiratory Therapist

Surgical technologists and respiratory therapists work in healthcare to ensure the success of medical treatment. While each medical career is similar, there are a lot of ways they are different. Find out what they are.

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Comparing Surgical Technologists to Respiratory Therapists

Surgical technologists and respiratory therapists both work with patients in a healthcare setting, although their specific job tasks are different. For example, surgical technologists assist during surgeries, while respiratory therapists work with patients to help them breathe better. Read on for more information about how these two healthcare careers are similar and different.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Surgical Technologist Certificate or associate's degree $45,160 15%
Respiratory Therapist Associate's degree $58,670 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Surgical Technologists vs. Respiratory Therapists

Both surgical technologists and respiratory therapists work in the healthcare industry to help patients have a smooth experience. However, their roles are very different. For one thing, surgical technologists help surgeons perform operations, sterilizing and handing instruments to the surgeon. They must wear scrubs in the operating room. Respiratory therapists work directly with patients, often coaching them through using equipment to help them breathe better. Many respiratory therapists work in hospitals, but some may work in home health care, nursing homes, or doctors' offices.

Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists do a lot to help surgeries go smoothly. Besides preparing patients for surgery, they keep the operating rooms clean. They also keep up with how many supplies they have on hand. Surgical technologists work on a team with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses. Surgical technologists usually work in hospitals and might have to work long shifts.

Job responsibilities of a Surgical Technologist include:

  • Lifting heavy items, like patients or trays of equipment
  • Disinfecting areas of skin in preparation for incisions
  • Placing drapes over patients
  • Keeping organs in place during surgery
  • Making sure all equipment is working correctly

Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists talk to patients to establish what their respiratory needs are. Respiratory therapists discuss treatment options with the doctors and nurses who oversee their patient's care as well. After establishing what needs to be done, respiratory therapists administer different techniques to help patients breathe better, such as chest physiotherapy or medications delivered through aerosol. Respiratory therapists are on their feet for much of their work day. They might have to work at night and on weekends if they work in hospitals, which are usually open 24 hours a day.

Job responsibilities of a Respiratory Therapist include:

  • Monitoring the progress of their patients
  • Lifting patients who are injured or disabled
  • Monitoring equipment to make sure patients are receiving the correct amount of oxygen
  • Performing diagnostic tests like gauging lung capacity
  • Giving emergency treatment to patients suffering from acute issues like a heart attack or shock

Related Careers

Someone interested in becoming a surgical technologist might also consider becoming a certified nursing assistant because both help in healthcare settings. If you like what a respiratory therapist does, you might think about going to school a little longer to become a thoracic medicine specialist because both careers involve treating respiratory issues.

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