Can a Medical Assistant Become a Surgical Tech?

Considering a career in surgical technology? Discover if you have what it takes to make the switch from medical assisting.

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Introduction

Medical assistants often ask if they can become surgical technologists. The answer is yes, but it requires additional education and training.

Here we will discuss what steps a medical assistant would need to take in order to become a surgical technologist. We will also touch on some of the key differences between these two allied health professions.

medical assistants are unlicensed professionals who perform administrative and clinical tasks in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare settings. They typically have an associate degree from an accredited program or a certificate from a community college or technical school. Surgical technologists, on the other hand, are allied health professionals who work in the operating room alongside surgeons, nurses, and other members of the surgical team. They prepare the operating room for surgery and sterile instruments and supplies for use during surgery. Most surgical technologists have an associate degree from an accredited surgical technology program.

What is a Surgical Tech?

A surgical technologist, also called a scrub, surgical technician, operating room technician or scrub tech, is an allied health professional working as a part of the team delivering surgical care. Surgical technologists work under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. They are trained to maintain the sterile field, anticipate the needs of the surgeon and handle all instruments and supplies while maintaining aseptic techniques.

What is a Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant is a multi-skilled professional who supports the work of physicians and other health professionals, usually in an outpatient setting. Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of doctors, medical centers, and clinics running smoothly. The duties of a medical assistant vary from state to state and from office to office, but there are some common tasks that most medical assistants perform. These tasks include:

Answering phones
Scheduling patients
Updating and filing patient medical records
Filling out insurance forms
Taking and recording patient vital signs
Preparing patients for examination
Assisting the physician during the examination
Giving patients instructions for follow-up care
Drawing blood
administering medications as directed by a physician

The Similarities Between the Two Professions

While medical assistants and surgical techs both work closely with surgeons and patients, there are some key differences between the two professions. Medical assistants typically have more clinical duties, such as taking patient histories and measuring vital signs, while surgical techs are responsible for Sterilizing surgical instruments and setting up operating rooms.

medical assistant to surgical tech may be a good career move for someone who is already working as a medical assistant and is interested in pursuing a more technical role. Surgical techs typically need to complete a Certificate or Associate’s degree program in surgical technology, which can be completed in as little as one year.

The Differences Between the Two Professions

At a glance, medical assistants and surgical techs may appear to have similar job duties. After all, both occupations involve working closely with patients and medical staff in a hospital or clinical setting. However, there are key differences between the two professions that prospective students should be aware of before making a decision about which career path to pursue.

For starters, medical assistants typically have more generalist duties than surgical techs. In addition to performing administrative tasks and working with patients, medical assistants may also be responsible for taking vital signs, drawing blood, and administering basic first aid. Surgical techs, on the other hand, have a more specific focus: assisting surgeons during surgery. This includes tasks such as preparing the operating room for surgery, sterilizing equipment, passing instruments to the surgeon during procedures, and applying dressings to incisions after surgery.

Medical assistants typically need to complete an accredited certificate or diploma program to enter the field, while surgical techs must complete an accredited associate’s degree program. The length of time it takes to complete these programs also differs: Medical assistant programs can be completed in as little as nine months, while associate’s degree programs typically take two years to finish.

Due to the nature of their work, surgical techs are also more likely than medical assistants to be exposed to blood and other bodily fluids on a regular basis. As such, they must adhere to strict safety protocols and are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, and gowns when working with patients. Medical assistants may also be required to wear PPE depending on their job duties.

The bottom line? Both medical assisting and surgical technology are rewarding career paths that offer opportunities for growth and advancement. However, the day-to-day duties of each occupation are quite different. Prospective students should research both options carefully before making a decision about which field is right for them.

The Educational Requirements for Each Profession

Medical assistants and surgical technicians both work in the medical field, but they have different roles. Medical assistants typically perform administrative and clinical tasks, while surgical technicians are responsible for helping surgeons during operations. If you’re interested in becoming a surgical technician, you may be wondering if you can use your medical assistant training as a springboard into this career.

The educational requirements for each profession are different, but it is possible to use your medical assistant training to become a surgical technician. Surgical technicians typically need to complete an accredited surgical technology program, which takes about a year to complete. However, many surgical technology programs will give credit for prior medical assistant training, which can shorten the length of time it takes to complete the program.

Once you’ve completed a surgical technology program, you’ll need to pass a national certification exam to become a certified surgical technologist (CST). Once you’re certified, you’ll be eligible for entry-level positions in most hospitals and surgery centers. With experience, you may be able to advance to lead or supervisory roles.

The Certification Requirements for Each Profession

The main difference between a medical assistant and a surgical tech is that surgical techs are required to be certified. There are several certification programs available, but the most common one is the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To be eligible for certification, you must have completed an accredited surgical technology program and passed the NBSTSA exam.

The Employment Outlook for Each Profession

The employment outlook for both medical assistants and surgical technologists is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both occupations are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028. In fact, the BLS projects that employment of medical assistants will grow by 23 percent during that time period, while employment of surgical technologists is expected to grow by 12 percent.

The Salary Expectations for Each Profession

Medical assistants and surgical technicians are both important members of the healthcare team. They have different job duties and responsibilities, but they both play a vital role in patient care. Medical assistants typically work in outpatient settings, while surgical techs work in operating rooms.

The salary expectations for each profession are different. Medical assistants earn a median salary of $32,480 per year, while surgical techs earn a median salary of $44,330 per year. There is a significant difference in pay between these two professions.

The job outlook for medical assistants is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical assistants will grow 23 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for medical assistants is expected to increase due to the growth of the aging baby-boom population and the resulting increase in the demand for healthcare services.

The job outlook for surgical techs is also positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of surgical techs will grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The demand for surgical techs is expected to increase due to the growth of the aging baby-boom population and the resulting increase in demand for healthcare services.

Conclusion

There are many ways that a medical assistant can become a surgical tech. They can take classes, get certification, or even earn a degree in surgical technology. With the right education and training, a medical assistant can easily transition into a career as a surgical tech.

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