Globally, there have been labor shortages in the medical sector for a long time. It worsened when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the healthcare system and resulted in health worker shortages and exhaustion. In the post-pandemic era, one of the most needed medical workers is the Sterile Processing Technician (SPT). According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for sterile processing technicians is expected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031. Therefore, prospective employees are looking for the best online sterile processing course to prepare them for their careers.
What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do?
A sterile processing technician prepares, installs, assembles, cleans, and sterilizes healthcare equipment used in medical exams, surgeries, and other procedures. They strictly comply with the sterilization processes and ensure that the instruments are decontaminated and safe to use across patients every day. Aside from the things mentioned, a sterile processing tech performs several duties, including:
- Sterilizing, wrapping, organizing, and preparing surgical instruments into trays before; clinical procedures;
- Laying out surgical gloves and gowns before the medical process;
- Collecting and cleaning the contaminated medical equipment and supplies;
- Examining laboratory instruments meticulously to ascertain cleanliness;
- Checking and reporting any problems or issues in the sterilization process;
- Providing records of sterilization procedures and equipment maintenance; and
- Removing medical waste and disposing of them correctly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics in America reveals that a sterile processing tech can earn $16 to 18$ per hour and an average of $33,850 per year. In certain parts of the United States, like in California, technicians can start an average of $22 to $26 per hour. While this profession requires high qualifications, it offers professional opportunities, excellent upward mobility, and long-term benefits in the health industry.
In addition, SPTs have the opportunity to explore all fields of the hospital. They are often seen in laboratories, operating rooms, and other areas. Although they do not have much patient interaction, they still play a vital role in the healthcare community. With the adversities of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, STPs are becoming more in demand in many countries, especially in the United States.
How To Become a Sterile Processing Technician?
Medical facilities and practitioners are prone to infections and viruses. Consequently, proper sterilization procedures are imperative for a healthy and safe work environment. SPTs are responsible for ensuring that these procedures are done within the area.
To become a sterile processing tech, one must do the following:
- Enroll in a Training Course
Employers require potential SPTs to have at least a high school diploma or obtain training by an official sterile processing technician school. Current certifications require training of 120 didactic hours and some require an additional 400 hours hospital clinical training to receive full certification. Important subjects included on the training:
- Medical Equipment
- Sterilization Methods
- Infection Control
- Medical Terminology
- Storage and Distribution
- Quality Assurance
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Safety and Risk Control
- Medical and Surgical Equipment
2. Get Certified!
Once the training is complete, it is vital to acquire at least one certification before applying as a position as an SPT. In some states certification is now required. However, in order for hospitals and/or healthcare facilities keep their accreditation, it is now required that Sterile Processing Departments (SPD) only hire technicians with one of the following certifications:
- Certified in Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician (CSPDT)
- Certified Registered Central Services Technician (CRCST)
- Prepare Job Application Documents.
Preparing and organizing the needed documents, including certifications, resume, and other needed records for the application, is crucial. Some employers look for applicants’ attitudes and qualifications to avoid future problems. They prefer someone assertive and attentive in providing a comfortable and safe hospital environment.
Where Can Sterile Processing Techs Find Work?
Sterile Processing Technicians can work wherever there are patients and medical procedures performed. While most are employed in hospitals, they might also try working in outpatient surgery centers and other medical facilities. These include:
- Plastic surgery offices;
- Dental or eye clinics;
- Nursing homes;
- Birthing centers; and
- Rehabilitation facilities
These health establishments use instruments, tools, and other medical supplies to provide quality care and services. SPTs are needed in these areas to implement proper sterilization of these items.
Why Become a Sterile Process Technician?
Sterile Processing is a rewarding career that offers entry-level positions and opportunities for professional growth. The medical industry needs aspiring SPTs to help maintain the cleanliness and sterilization of healthcare equipment and services.
Here are some reasons why individuals become Sterile Processing Technicians:
Exciting and Challenging Work Environment
Sterile processing technicians are skilled in problem-solving, attention to detail, and physical coordination. They are constantly on their feet and move to collect, decontaminate, sterilize, and distribute medical tools and equipment. While they do not directly participate in surgeries and procedures, they are crucial to the whole surgical operations. It gives them a unique perspective on various medical care. Additionally, this career is evolving and will require continuous learning.
Flexibility in Work Hours
Sterile Processing provides a lot of work schedule flexibility. Hospitals and employers offer many shifts throughout the day and night so adjusting based on a personal schedule is manageable.
Not a Stationary Job
Boredom can result from sitting in the same place for a long time. A Sterile Processing Technician’s job involves several tasks and responsibilities. A technician may be assigned to do sterilization one day, handle robotic washers another day and perform distribution duties the next. There are many sub departments in SPD and the more a technician learns the more efficient and qualified he or she becomes. More qualifications or skills equates to higher pay.
You are an Essential Member of the Healthcare Field
Bacteria, viruses and prions are examples of harmful pathogens that can cause harm to staff and patients when transmitted through unsterilized items. People who visit hospitals expect that everything is clean and sterile. Sterile Processing Technicians ensure the safety of the patients and staff through careful equipment and instrument sanitation.
Short-Term Training with Long-Term Advantages
Many trainees hate the idea of studying for years before finding work. Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician takes only two to four months of training to become certified. Some hospitals or hiring managers hire new graduates after obtaining their certification. Some allow graduates to volunteer through externship programs to gain real-world experience and then offer permanent positions to those who perform well and/or meet their standards.
Where Can You Find the Best Sterile Processing Online Course?
All healthcare professionals should be aware of the severe consequences of hospital-associated infection. The health sector must hire more reliable and skillful sterile processing technicians. Individuals who want to pursue this field should find the best online and/or classroom program to train graduates to be become effective sterile processing professionals and meet the minimum educational requirement to participate in the certification exam.
Martinson College offers cost-effective classroom and online sterile processing courses. It provides training options within the United States and worldwide to deliver accessible and extensive Sterile Processing Technician training. Set a schedule or speak to a career counselor by calling or texting (888) 625-0059.
Read More: Essential Qualities of a Professional Sterile Processing Technician