What is a Sterile Processing Technician
If you ever find yourself at a hospital in need of an operation, have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes before patients are wheeled into operating rooms? Understandably, most of us probably don’t. We may be worried about the procedure, or how we are feeling. The thoughts of the patient care we will receive afterwards. Little do we know, there are healthcare professionals working behind the scenes to help prepare the surgical team for procedures.
Today we are talking about Sterile Processing Technicians and the important role they play in our healthcare system. You may be wondering, “what is a sterile processing technician?” Well, we’re glad you asked! Simply put, Sterile Processing Technicians are healthcare professionals that are responsible for cleaning and sterilizing instruments and equipment in healthcare facilities.
Sterile Processing Technician work in the central service department of a hospital, surgical center, or other healthcare facility. Their primary role is to prepare surgical instruments and related equipment prior to procedures. This entails a thorough and rigorous cleaning and sterilization process. After all, we want to ensure the tools that are being used in operating rooms are sterilized and not going to cause any potential health concerns for patients, such as infections.
Continue reading below as we break down some more helpful information on Sterile Processing Technicians and the role they play in our healthcare system.
Differences between Central Service Technician vs Sterile Processing Technician
As we mentioned above, Sterile Processing Technicians are often found working in the Central Service Department of a healthcare facility. You may be wondering then, what are the differences between a Central Service Technician vs Sterile Processing Technician? Well, there aren’t any big differences. A Sterile Processing Technician may work under a variety of job titles. One of which is a Central Service Technician. Another potential job title they may have is a Medical Equipment Preparer. Generally, each of these professionals perform the same duties. There may be instances though where job duties or responsibilities could vary between healthcare facilities. It’s always best to review the job description in advance to make sure you understand the terms and conditions of how the role is set up and the duties associated with the position.
What does a sterile processing technician do?
You may also be wondering, what does a sterile processing technician do? Well, we have already mentioned that they are responsible for the cleaning and sterilization of instruments and equipment, but there is much more to their role. Some of the duties associated with a Sterile Processing Technician’s role may include:
- Decontaminating, cleaning, and preparing medical instruments for sterilization
- Operating and maintain autoclaves
- Keeping detailed and accurate records
- Assembling and organizing instrument trays and surgical supplies
- Managing inventory
- Stocking medical supplies and equipment
- …and more!
While these are the primary duties of a Sterile Processing Technician, they may perform other duties, as assigned. It goes without saying, their specialized skills are needed and play an important role in preparing surgical teams ahead of procedures.
Where does a sterile processing technician work?
We’ve talked about what a Sterile Processing Technician is and the work they do, but where does a Sterile Processing Technician work? As we already mentioned, Sterile Processing Technicians are often found working in the Central Service Department. Hospitals are healthcare facilities that have a Central Service Department. In addition to hospitals, Sterile Processing Technicians may be found working in surgical centers, outpatient facilities, or other healthcare practices that need to sterilize instruments regularly. While most Sterile Processing Technicians will work in a hospital setting, their specialized skills are certainly needed in other practices as well.
Up to this point, we’ve talked about what a Sterile Processing Technician is, what they do, and where they can work. Does this sound like a career that might be a good fit for you? Perhaps you’ve been looking for a career in healthcare but wanted something that wasn’t directly tied to patient care. If so, let’s talk about how to become a Sterile Processing Technician.
The first step is to obtain the necessary training. Sterile Processing Technician training programs typically take a year or less to complete. These programs are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue entry level opportunities as a Sterile Processing Technician. It’s a safe bet that these programs require students to also complete hands-on component or clinical training as part of their curriculum. This is to ensure students have the specialty skills a Sterile Processing Technician needs to be effective in their role.
At the conclusion of their training, students may also pursue certification. While certification may not be required to obtain an entry level position as a Sterile Processing Technician, it’s recommended. This is because certification can signal to a potential employer that you have invested the time and energy in your education and training. Pursuing certification may involve various requirements. One of these is challenging and passing a certification exam. Candidates may also be required to obtain a certain number of hours working in the field, prior to becoming certified.
It’s important to remember that it’s the sole responsibility of the student to fully understand the requirements associated with pursuing certification. While your school can (and should) help you pursue your certification, it’s ultimately up to the individual to make sure they are taking the appropriate steps to pursue their credential.
There you have it! We hope we have answered the question, “What is a Sterile Processing Technician” for you.
The Dorsey College Sterile Processing Technician program has been developed to provide students with an opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in this specialized area of the healthcare field. The Sterile Processing Technician program is offered at the following Dorsey College campus locations:
- Madison Heights, MI (Main campus)
- Roseville, MI (A branch campus of Madison Heights)
- Woodhaven, MI (A branch campus of Madison Heights)
The Sterile Processing Technician program is offered in hybrid format. That means some of the classes will be held online via distance education, and others will be held at a Dorsey College campus. There is a strong hands-on training component to the Sterile Processing Technician program as well. In addition to practicing in the labs on campus, students will also take part in clinical training during their capstone course.
Classes in the Sterile Processing Technician program at Dorsey College are starting soon and financial aid is available for those who qualify. Interested students can learn more by submitting this form at the top of the page, or they can visit the Sterile Processing Technician program page for more information.