Surgical Technology

  • Credits: 60
  • Degree Type: A.A.S.
  • Campus: East Grand Forks

Program Overview

The Surgical Technology program prepares students to assist the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and professional registered nurse as an integral member of the direct patient care team before, during, and after surgical intervention. The graduate practitioner will possess the knowledge base and technical skills to demonstrate the principles of sterile technique, demonstrate the invasive procedural steps necessary to correct anatomical pathology, prepare equipment, instruments, supplies, and sutures used for surgical procedures, assist the surgeon throughout the operative procedure, incorporate values and attitudes congruent with professional standards and ethics, and perform in the role of first scrub, second assistant, supervised circulator, and first assistant.

Graduates of the program are eligible to take the National Certifying Examination for Surgical Technologists to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). The exam is administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), the credentialing organization. The NBSTSA awards a certificate, after successful completion of the examination; the individual will be nationally certified.

Students will obtain clinical experience at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks ND, Sanford Hospital in Fargo ND and Fargo VA Healthcare System. Students are required to complete a minimum of 120 surgical cases during the clinical training for successful completion of the program, as approved by the ARC/STSA.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), employment for surgical technologists is expected to grow by 19% through 2020. The number of surgical procedures is expected to grow as the population ages.

Hospitals will continue as the primary employer of surgical technologists, although much faster employment growth is expected in offices and clinics of physicians, including ambulatory surgical centers.

Surgical technologists held about 71,000 jobs in 2000. Almost three-quarters are employed by hospitals. Others are employed in clinics and surgical centers, and in the offices of physicians and dentists who perform outpatient surgery. A few, known as private scrubs, are employed by surgeons who have special surgical teams, such as those for organ transplantation.

Technologists advance by specializing in a particular area of surgery, such as neurosurgery or open heart surgery. They also may work as circulating technologists, the "unsterile" members of the surgical team who prepare patients, assist with anesthesia, obtain and open packages for "sterile" persons to remove the contents during procedures. They may also interview patients before surgery, keep a written account of the surgical procedure, and answer the surgeon's questions about the patient during surgery.

With additional training, some technologists advance to first assistants, who help with retracting, sponging, suturing, cauterizing bleeders, and closing and treating wounds. Some surgical technologists manage central supply departments in hospitals, or take positions with insurance companies, sterile supply services, and surgical equipment firms.

The employment outlook for surgical technologists in the state of Minnesota from 2010 to 2020 is 21.1%, a very high growth career.

Potential Job Titles

Program Courses

View semester schedule by campus: East Grand Forks

Required Courses

Course # Course Name Credit(s)
HLTH 1106 Medical Terminology 2 credits
HLTH 2002 Pharmacology 2 credits
HLTH 2208 Pathophysiology 3 credits
SURT 1102 Intro to Surgical Tech 2 credits
SURT 2204 Operating Room Theory 4 credits
SURT 2206 Operating Room Practices 5 credits
SURT 2212 Operative Procedures 5 credits
SURT 2216 Clinical I 6 credits
SURT 2220 Clinical II 7 credits
BIOL 2221 Microbiology 3 credits
BIOL 2252 Anatomy & Phys I 3 credits
BIOL 2254 Anatomy & Phys II 3 credits
ENGL 1111 Composition I 3 credits
PSYC 1105 Intro to Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 2201 Developmental Psychology 3 credits
  G4: Math/Logical Elective ( *See Elective Options Listed Below ) 3 credits
  G9: Ethic/Civic Resp Elec ( *See Elective Options Listed Below ) 3 credits

Area of Interest Elective Course Options

For this particular pathway, NCTC recommends a student explore further coursework in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum areas listed below. Need help? Schedule an appointment with a Northland Academic Advisor for assistance in selecting courses.

Course # Course Name Credits
G4: Math/Logical Reasoning Electives
MATH 1102 Contemporary Math 3 credits
MATH 1110 College Algebra 3 credits
G9: Ethical/Civic Responsibility Electives
PHIL 1102 Intro to Ethics 3 credits
PHIL 2210 Morals and Medicine 3 credits

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