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Surgical Degree Program Options by Program Level

Aspiring surgeons must attend medical school and earn Doctor of Medicine degrees. The shortest path to a less specialized surgical career such as a surgical technologist is to earn an undergraduate degree in surgical technology.

Essential Information

Surgical technology degree program options may be found at the associate's and bachelor's levels. These programs typically include clinical requirements. Associate's degree programs in surgical technology train students to work with surgeons in the operating room. Students will learn to sterilize the operating room and surgical instruments and to care for patients both before and after surgery.

A bachelor's degree in health sciences with a concentration in surgical technology provides a more advanced education for students interested in becoming surgical assistants. Students enrolled in surgical technology bachelor's degree programs also learn management skills and the importance of funding and grant writing in the medical profession. Both undergraduate programs require a high school diploma or GED to enroll, and likely involve clinical work.

Students hoping to work as surgeons must go to medical school after earning a bachelor's degree and earn a doctorate. This includes a residency program, as well as an internship.


Associate's Degree in Surgical Technology

Graduates of surgical technology associate's degree programs can expect to find employment in hospitals, veterinary hospitals, dental offices, and clinics. Below are classes usually associated with an Associate in Applied Science in Surgical Technology:

  • Surgical technology procedures
  • Pharmacology for surgical technology students
  • Microbiology
  • Application of surgical skills
  • Disease processes
  • Surgical intervention procedures

Bachelor's Degree in Health Sciences with a Concentration in Surgical Technology

As with associate's degree programs, the bachelor's degree in health sciences with a concentration in surgical technology is science intensive, and colleges require students have a background in math and science. A typical bachelor's degree in health sciences with a concentration in surgical technology curriculum includes classes in the following areas:

  • Surgical health principles
  • Epidemiology for surgical technologists
  • Healthcare delivery procedures
  • Medical ethics for surgical professionals
  • Public policy development
  • Healthcare transitions

Doctor of Medicine

A Doctor of Medicine program trains students to be aware of the normal functions of the human body, understand molecular, cellular and biomedical mechanisms, recognize various diseases and how they affect the body, and be able to apply the basics of pharmacology in treating patients. Rotations, which are completed in the fourth and final year of medical school, include time in surgical units. Students enrolled in a Doctor of Medicine degree program typically take classes in the following subjects:

  • Central nervous system
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Cells and microorganisms
  • Systemic infections
  • Neurology

Possible Career Options

Students who successfully complete an associate's degree in surgical technology are qualified for the following careers:

  • Surgical technologist
  • Dental surgical technician
  • Medical equipment sales representative

Bachelor's degree in health sciences programs can prepare students for management and administration positions in medical offices.

  • Private physician's office manager
  • Non-profit health organization assistant
  • Senior surgical technologist

In addition to working as a general surgeon, graduates of medical school can work as:

  • Pediatric surgeons
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Cardiovascular surgeons

Continuing Education

After graduating from medical school, students must complete a 3-year residency and a surgical internship that can last four years. Although residents and interns are considered medical doctors, they work under the supervision of senior surgeons

Surgeons can find education in associate's, bachelor's, and doctoral degree programs specializing in the subject, typically as part of a broader medical degree. Though only those who have graduated with a doctorate and complete the residency and internship requirements afterwards are considered doctors, there are careers available for graduates of all programs.


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