Surgical technologists serve as aides to surgeons and other healthcare professionals. This is a hands-on field, so fully online programs aren't available for initial training. While online degrees in surgical technology all have on-campus requirements, medical assistant degrees are available completely online.
Schools do offer hybrid options for surgical technologists, however. The in-person requirements for these programs typically involve on-campus attendance, internships and lab work. Most online programs in surgical technology lead to associate's degrees or certificates. Students can find these undergraduate programs at two-year community colleges or technical schools. Some four-year institutions also offer distance learning bachelor's programs that are designed for those who are already trained in the field and are seeking further knowledge. Majors typically fall under the fields of health sciences and surgical technology.
Surgical Technology Degrees
AAS - Surgical Technology
There are a number of institutions that offer an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology. Some offer all of the academic coursework online, whereas others require that the core courses be taken on campus. Some campus courses require labs. All programs require surgical rotations, which may also be called practicums or internships. Required courses include the following:
- Basics of surgical technology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Safe patient care
- Microbiology for surgical technologists
- Pharmacology in surgery
- Surgical assisting and procedures
Some schools that offer hybrid programs may also offer one-year certificate programs that contain similar coursework but without the extensive general education requirements.
BHS - Surgical Technology
Online bachelor's programs are health sciences degrees with a concentration in surgical technology. These programs require the student to have an associate's degree in surgical technology, or else be a current student in such a program. This generally assures that the lab and rotations are completed, and allows all of the remaining courses to be available online. However, some bachelor's programs still require further fieldwork experience with a local health care provider.
Some of the more common online courses for the bachelor's degree programs, not including those in the associate-level program, include:
- Promoting community health
- Healthcare ethics applied
- Health issues
- Theories of health behaviors
- Design and promotion of community health
- Delivery systems of health care
While on-site instruction and clinical internships or practicums are a common part of distance learning surgical technology programs, students do have some flexibility with the online coursework. Schools use course management systems to deliver lectures, assignments and other class materials - all of which is generally available for distance learners' retrieval anytime that fits their schedules. Communication methods, like class discussion boards and chat rooms, may be used for instructor and student interaction. Like those conducted on campus, online degree programs in surgical technology focus on training students to gain skills in the following:
- Setting up surgical equipment and tools for use
- Proper sanitation of surgical tools
- Ensuring equipment and tools are functioning properly
- Preparing patients for surgery
Graduates are eligible to sit for the voluntary national certification examination. This test and certification is offered through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Although the certification test is available online, it must be taken at an approved testing center. Exams are by appointment only.
Being a hands-on field, surgical technology training is not entirely available online. Most programs offer a mix of online coursework with in-person internships and lab work designed to prepare students for this type of work.