Hospitals are some of the busiest places, with workers attending to numerous patients and using thousands of medical supplies daily. Due to constant exposure to possible contamination, departments always look for clean equipment they can use. This is where the indispensable role of a sterile processing technician (SPT) comes in.
The question is, why become a sterile processing tech? An SPT works in the background and does not directly attend to their patients. Not to mention obtaining sterile processing technician certification can be a hard work.
While it is true that other medical programs have such exorbitant fees and tedious study years, becoming a sterile processing technician is the quickest way to reward you with a well-paying healthcare job. Below, we’ll discuss what a sterile processing technician is and why you should consider becoming one.
What is a Sterile Processing Technician?
Sterile processing technicians are healthcare professionals with extensive skills and knowledge explicitly tailored for infection mitigation. They sterilize, clean, process, assemble, store, and distribute medical instruments and supplies used in clinical procedures such as surgical operations. Sterile processing technicians strictly follow proper sterilization processes to ensure equipment is safe to reuse on various patients daily.
You can find sterile processing technicians in hospitals, clinics, and many other settings that use medical equipment. Since they assist other healthcare professionals like surgeons, they often work in operating rooms or other units to clean supplies, though their primary hub is the Sterile Processing Department.
Reasons to become a Sterile Processing Technician
We are not kidding when we say being a sterile processing technician is a rewarding career when you want to work in the medical field but are not ready to commit years to med school.
Here are some of the prime reasons why it is a viable profession:
- You will be an Irreplaceable Member of the Healthcare Industry
Sterile processing technicians may operate behind the scenes, but their job is crucial in preventing infection across hospitals through unclean equipment. Hundreds of trays of instruments are used every day, and only SPTs can decontaminate them. They are also responsible for ordering, organizing, and distributing surgical tools and supplies.
While they do not interact with patients, SPTs indirectly provide care by safeguarding them from infection risks.
- Get a Sneak Peek of Normally Restricted Departments
Many do not know that some healthcare professionals cannot enter certain hospital areas. One of these places is the surgical bay, especially during an ongoing operation. Reasons for access limitation can range from safety concerns to preventive action.
As an individual assisting the surgeons, you can have moments where a visit to such areas is needed due to demands for sterile processing services. You might even witness an ongoing surgical operation and see how they are performed.
- You are Always on the Go
Sitting for eight hours or more doing nothing is just as tiring as juggling a handful of tasks. Idling away for too long is unproductive and may not help you advance your career. On one hand, there is never such a time when you are a sterile processing technician.
Because there is no shortage of needs for clean instruments, sterile processing technicians are always on the go, moving from one department to another as they perform their duties. You get the unique experience of witnessing what happens before, during, and after clinical procedures. Since the hospital setting is dynamic, you can learn new techniques and acquire more knowledge as the sterile processing profession evolves.
- Flexible Hours and Rewarding Compensation
Sterile processing technicians have duties performed around the clock, but that does not mean clinics will make them work from dusk until dawn. Employers offer SPTs morning, evening, or overnight shifts to better fit personal schedules. As a sterile processing technician, there is a high need to take the initiative due to limited oversight, though you can also receive guidance from senior staff.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sterile processing profession also has some of the most competitive salaries in the medical industry, earning an average of $40,000 to $70,000. Of course, this will depend on the location, experience, certification, and employer.
- Sterile Processing Technicians are Always On-Demand
Wherever there are medical supplies, there will be a need for sterile processing technicians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects a growth rate of 6% from 2019 to 2029 for sterile processing technicians. With excellent career potential and job outlook, becoming a sterile processing technician means plenty of opportunities in the medical field.
- Short-Term Training Programs
Most medical programs will take years to complete. One problem arising from such long studies is once students have finished, their attained knowledge may already be obsolete. To counter this fast-paced change, it is critical to land a job soon to obtain experience and learn in real time.
Meanwhile, sterile processing technicians only need to finish their training programs in less than a year. Besides the detailed lessons and discussions, you also receive hands-on training to better prepare you for your career.
- Sterile Processing Technician Programs are Inexpensive
Medical schools are known for their discouragingly high tuition fees, but not with a sterile processing technician program. Even if you choose to study in one of the most reputable SPT institutions in your area, you won’t have to bust your wallet to spend your entire life’s savings to finish.
Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician
Like any other healthcare job, the road to becoming a certified sterile processing technician requires undertaking studies, training, and a certification exam.
Certification is important if you wish to get hired faster or if you want to advance your career. There are two certifying organizations for sterile processing technicians:
- The Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. (CBSPD)
- The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA); formerly the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM)
Are you prepared to embark on your journey toward becoming a sterile processing technician?
Get in touch with Martinson College, an institution that offers high-quality accelerated classroom, virtual, and online programs producing graduates who can meet international certification standards. You can also contact them at (888) 625-0059 for inquiries or to schedule an appointment.