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Program Details

Program specifics about earning a Surgical Technology A.A.S. Degree at Northland.

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.

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.

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.

Program Accreditation

Northland Community & Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

The Surgical Technology program has been continuously accredited since April 20, 1978, by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in cooperation with the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA).

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education

9355 – 113th St. N #7709
Seminole, FL 33775

6 W. Dry Creek Circle, Suite 110
Littleton, CO 80120
Phone: 303-694-9262
Fax: 303-741-3655

Program Learner Outcomes

Program Goal: The Surgical Technology program will prepare entry-level Surgical Technologists who are competent in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains to enter the profession.

Outcomes: Upon completion of the Surgical Technology didactic and clinical components, the graduate will be able to:

  1. Perform skills necessary to safely fulfill the role of the Surgical Technologist, including the application of infection control practices and scrubbing into surgical procedures under direct supervision.
  2. Demonstrate professional behaviors consistent with the profession and employer expectations utilizing ethical and legal considerations relevant to the role of the surgical technologist.
  3. Evaluate information using problem-solving and critical thinking skills relevant to the surgical technologist position.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in the application of aseptic technique in all aspects of the surgical care of patients.
  5. Demonstrate basic competence in the use of surgical instruments, supplies, and equipment used to provide patient care.
  6. Integrate a comprehensive understanding of anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, and microbiology when assisting with surgical procedures.
  7. Communicate effectively with patients, physicians, and colleagues based upon respect for the dignity and worth of each person.
  8. Exhibit behaviors conducive to effective teamwork.

Employment Information

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.

Licensure & Certifications

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.

Additional Program Resources

Northland Surgical Technology Outcome Assessment Exam Pass Rate
2023 Graduating Class — 100%
2022 Graduating Class — 100%
2021 Graduating Class — 88%
2020 Graduating Class — 100%
2019 Graduating Class — 91%
2018 Graduating Class — 100%

Qualities of a Surgical Technologist
• Ability to work well under stressful and emergency situations
• Able to act quickly and accurately
• Work well with other people
• Exhibit manual dexterity
• Physical stamina
• Good communication skills
• Empathy

Work Environment
Surgical Technologist work in a well lighted, clean, and cool environment. They work in close proximity to other team members. Technologist’s must remain alert and stand for long periods of time. They may be exposed to communicable diseases, unpleasant sights and odors. Most surgical technologist work full time (40 hours per week), but part time employment is available at some institutions. Most work places require 24 hour coverage which may require being scheduled nights, weekends, and holidays.

Physical Requirements for Surgical Technology
• Able to stand, bend, stoop, and/or sit for long periods of time in one location with minimum/no breaks.
• Able to lift a minimum of 20 pounds.
• Able to refrain from nourishment or restroom breaks for periods up to 6 hours.
• Demonstrate sufficient visual ability enough to load a fine (10-0) suture onto needles and needle holders with/without corrective lenses and while wearing safety glasses.
• Demonstrate sufficient peripheral vision to anticipate and function while in the sterile surgical environment.
• Hear and understand muffled communication without visualization of the communicator’s mouth/lips and within 20 feet.
• Hear activation/warning signals on equipment.
• Able to detect odors sufficient to maintain environmental safety and patient needs.
• Manipulate instruments, supplies and equipment with speed, dexterity, and good eye-hand coordination.
• Ambulate/move around without assistive devices.
• Able to assist with and/or lift, move, position, and manipulate the patient who is unconscious with or without assistive devices.
• Communicate and understand fluent English both verbally and in writing.
• To be free of reportable communicable diseases and chemical abuse.
• Able to demonstrate immunity (natural or artificial) to Rubella, Rubeola, Tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B, or be vaccinated against these diseases, or willing to sign a waiver or release of liability regarding these diseases.
• Possess short- and long-term memory sufficient to perform tasks such as, but not limited to, mentally tracking surgical supplies and performing anticipation skills intraoperatively.
• Able to make appropriate judgment decisions.
• Demonstrate the use of positive coping skills under stress.
• Demonstrate calm and effective responses, especially in emergency situations.
• Exhibit positive interpersonal skills during patient, staff, and faculty interactions.

Policy Manual
Review the Surgical Technology Policy Manual for more program-specific information.

Field Description
Surgical technologists, also called scrubs, surgical technicians or operating room technicians, assist in surgeries under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses or other surgical personnel. Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams, which most commonly include surgeons, anesthesiologists and circulating nurses.

Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes and sterile solutions. They assemble both sterile and non-sterile equipment and ensure it’s working properly.

Technologists also prepare patients for surgery by washing, shaving and disinfecting incision sites. They transport patients to the operating room, help position them on the operating table and cover them with sterile surgical drapes. Technologists also observe patients’ vital signs, and assist the surgical team with putting on sterile gowns and gloves.

More About Surgical Technology
During surgery, technologists pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and surgical assistants. They may hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies and instruments. Surgical technologists help prepare, care for, and dispose of specimens taken for laboratory analysis and assist in applying dressings.

Some surgical technologists operate sterilizers, lights or suction machines, and assist with diagnostic equipment. Surgical technologists may help transfer patients to the recovery room following surgery and clean and restock the operating room.

Second-year students will access the Surgical Procedure database to enter daily procedures performed while participating in the clinical rotation.

To print a copy of the surgical procedures that have been completed, click here.

Professional Organizations
Visit the following Web sites to learn more about surgical technology:

• Association of Surgical Technologists
• National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting

Surgical technology is a rewarding and challenging career. Surgical technologists are mainly employed in operating rooms where they assume many different roles and responsibilities. They work closely with the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and registered nurse in providing patient care during surgical procedures.

Surgical technologists may assume the role of the scrub person, circulator, or first assistant. The responsibilities of the surgical technologist include preparing the operating room, instruments, equipment, and supplies for a surgical procedure. Surgical technologists pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and assistants during surgery. After surgery, they may transport patients to recovery room, clean, and restock the operating room. Surgical technologists are experts in sterile technique, and help maintain a safe and therapeutic environment for the patient.