When choosing a career in the medical field, one option you can consider is becoming a sterile processing technician. You may ask if you can become a sterile processing tech online, especially if you are interested in working in a hospital's surgical unit. These technicians have similar job titles, such as certified registered central service technician (CRCST), central sterile supply technician (CSST), or sterile preparation technician.
What Is a Sterile Processing Technician?
A sterile processing technician is a medical professional responsible for sterilizing and disinfecting tools and equipment in a surgical environment. Sterile processing technicians also prepare surgical units for scheduled and emergency surgeries in a hospital. They use special sterilization equipment like autoclaves to decontaminate reusable surgical tools.
Can You Become a Sterile Processing Technician?
You can become a sterile processing technician with an online program that was carefully designed for immersive learning with text, audio, video, and high-resolution images. An online certificate program can be comprehensive for students who want more time flexibility and self-paced learning suitable for working adults.
Read more: Is Sterile Processing Tech in Demand?
Tasks of a Sterile Processing Technician
The job description of a sterile processing technician includes identifying common pathogens in a medical environment and applying sterilization techniques to ensure that surgical equipment is free from contamination. Sterile processing technicians often study microbiology and infection control to maintain and update skills related to the appropriate cleaning of medical instruments.
Besides this, sterile processing technicians are also tasked to assess a hospital's hygiene resources and track the location of sterilization equipment. They also maintain professional medical equipment and may schedule repairs as needed.
Sterile processing technicians also assess contamination risks in surgical environments, which can provide surgical teams with information needed to overcome obstacles and keep patients safe. Besides this, these technicians are also responsible for storing and transporting sterilization and surgical equipment in a medical setting.
Different Skills That Are Needed for Sterile Processing Technicians
Besides knowing the job's details, sterile processing technicians also typically develop soft and technical skills to perform their jobs in a medical setting effectively.
One of the skills of sterile processing technicians is collaboration, as they need to be coordinated with surgical teams and other medical personnel. These technicians are responsible for processing and preparing medical equipment promptly, which helps ensure that surgeries run smoothly.
Sterile processing technicians must also have communication skills. Technicians maintain contact with different medical teams to provide status reports, schedule repairs for medical equipment, and prepare surgical units for operations in a medical environment.
Sterile processing technicians must also pay attention to detail since they prepare medical equipment for safe surgical use. They rely on the information to help ensure that they have done each step in the sterilization process.
How To Become a Sterile Processing Technician
Education requirements for sterile processing technicians require at least a high school diploma. To prepare for a target career, such as becoming a sterile processing technician, you can consider taking biology, chemistry, and medicine courses.
While you are pursuing your high school education, consider doing research for programs near you. Depending on the enrollment process for your target program, you can apply before you graduate from high school.
You can also choose a trusted sterile processing technician program at community colleges, training schools, and online courses. Some on-the-job training to learn the sterilization techniques and other relevant job duties for their position is also required to become a sterile processing technician.
Depending on the type of program you choose, completing sterile processing technician education can range from ten weeks to two years. You can inquire about observing a class in the institution to determine which program suits you. You can also ask professors and students for their opinions and insights on the course program.
There are also programs commonly available online that may award a career diploma as a sterile processing technician. Some courses require at least 42 hours of online and in-hospital training. Some programs can be completed in as little as four months, although some online course programs may allow students up to a year to achieve them.
Sterile processing technician's online programs are designed to help prepare students for a possible career and professional certification in the medical field. It may include course topics in medical areas such as:
- Sterile processing
- Infection prevention
- Quality assurance
- Different surgical instruments
- Storage and distribution
- Medical terminology
- Medical equipment
Aside from enrolling in a course program, one must also prepare to earn a Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification. Those who want to become sterile processing technicians can consider researching the guidelines in their state to ensure that they pursue credentials with their career goals.
Some sterile processing technician programs may give them opportunities to gain work experience in the field, such as through paid or volunteer work. One can consider documenting their time working in the area to ensure they can provide proof to an accreditation body before they take a certification exam.
Career Opportunities for Sterile Technicians
The job of a sterile processing technician is crucial since it demands caution, patience, precision, analytical understanding, and hands-on expertise in a medical environment. They can consider serving at surgery centers, hospitals, and third-party processors in the sterile processing department.
There is a range of career choices for a sterile processing technician. Some of the roles of a qualified sterile processing technician include:
- Sterile processing technologist
- Surgical technician
- Sterile processing supervisor
- Endoscopy technician
One can consider becoming a sterile processing technician, especially for those who are engrossed in a career within the medical community. The job of a sterile processing technician is crucial in a work environment, and there is also a rising demand for medical instrument preparers in the medical field.
If you aspire to pursue such a profession, you can consider enrolling at Martinson College. At Martinson College, you can learn and further develop your skills along your journey as a Certified Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician (CSPDT) certification in as little as eight weeks.
Learn more about the sterile processing technician profession: