New Legislation Sheds Light on Importance of Surg Techs in the Operating Room

A patient often trusts that when they are unconscious lying on an operating table all the hospital staff performing their surgery is credentialed, but for some hospitals, that’s not a requirement.

Currently, the only hospital staff position in the operating room that is not required to meet minimum education and certificationmocksurgeryfinal2 standards is a surgical technologist, or surg tech. Only about 70 percent of hospitals in Minnesota require surg techs to have certification, according to Alyssa Grindy, a Rasmussen College surg tech student.

It may come as a sort of shock that some hospitals have no requirement, considering surg techs are the surgeon’s copilot and are front and center in the operating room. Job duties also include assisting doctors and nurses with lifesaving procedures, as well as sterilizing tools needed during a surgery.  

“Today, in operating rooms throughout Minnesota, literally hundreds of surgeries are being performed,” said Sara Vodnick, Rasmussen College surgical technologist program coordinator and board member of the Minnesota Assembly of Surgical Technologists. “With the rise of surgical site infections and preventable adverse events, proper education is vital.”

To better protect patients and regulate the practice of surgical technology, certification legislation has been created. The legislation (House File 1735, Senate File 1566) would:

  • Reduce preventable adverse events by establishing minimum education and certification standards for surgical technologists.
  • Grandfather currently-practicing surgical technologists
  • Provide an exemption for licensed practitioners; and
  • Carry no fiscal impact to the State or Minnesota hospitals

mocksurgeryfinalTo demonstrate the importance of a surg tech to state lawmakers, a morning and afternoon mock knee surgery was held April 11, 2013 at the Minnesota State Capitol. The surgery included Minnesota Certified surg techs led by surgeon David Rust, who explained the step-by-step knee surgery procedure, as well as the role of the surg tech during the surgery.

“The experience was particularly unique,” said Minn. Sen. Sandy Pappas (D-St. Paul) and chief author of the senate file said. “I think this bill is important. When I was approached about it, and asked to be an author, I thought it sounded very interesting.”

The bill is in the beginning stages and was just introduced to lawmakers this year. Since the legislature is focused on the budget, the bill won’t be put before the Minnesota House or Senate until 2014.

Rasmussen College recognizes the significance of the surg tech position and the importance of certification. The field is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2010-2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rasmussen College offers students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree as a surgical technologist. The surg tech program provides students with hands-on experience and prepares students for the CST National certification exam to become a certified surg tech.

Dr. David Rust performed the mock surgery and spoke about the benefit of hands on learning for the students in the Rasmussen College surg tech program. To learn more about the mock knee surgery and what surg tech students and lawmakers learned watch the video below.

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Jennifer is a Content and Social Media Specialist at Rasmussen College. She researches, writes and edits blog posts designed to help and inspire current, past and future students through their entire educational process in an effort to encourage learning at a college level and beyond.

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