Sterile processing technicians help to keep medical equipment safe and clean for surgical use. They work in the central service department of a hospital or healthcare facility, decontaminating, inspecting, assembling, packaging and sterilizing medical devices. Sterile processing technicians also identify common pathogens in a surgical environment and maintain an inventory of hospital hygiene resources. They collaborate with surgical teams to prepare equipment in a timely manner and may be responsible for tracking, shipping and storing sterilization materials.
Many healthcare professionals begin their careers as sterile processing technicians, then continue their education to advance in the field. A sterile processing technician training program can prepare students to pursue certification, which is required in many states. A sterile processing technician certificate can be completed in less than two years, and the skills learned can apply to careers in other areas of healthcare, such as nurse assisting.
In order to work in the sterile processing industry, prospective candidates must complete an application and undergo a criminal background check. Depending on the results of the criminal background checks, a conviction history may prevent an individual from becoming certified and able to work in the profession. Individuals with a record of felony or misdemeanor convictions are not eligible to pursue sterile processing technician salary as this would be inconsistent with the industry’s safety standards.
Sterile processing technician programs can be found at many community colleges, vocational schools and online. It’s important to consider your personal goals and budget before selecting a program. If possible, it’s recommended to attend an information session or visit a campus to get more detailed information about the specific courses of study. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and speak with an adviser about course details, scheduling and financial options.
After completing a sterile processing technician program, many individuals choose to participate in a clinical internship. This provides the opportunity to put classroom lessons into practice, and it’s often considered an essential part of a quality program. Individuals interested in pursuing an internship should talk with their program advisor to learn more about the requirements and application process.
Upon completion of a sterile processing program, an individual should seek certification from one of the main certifying bodies in the industry. The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management and the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution offer certification exams that can lead to career advancement. Those who earn their certifications can demonstrate their expertise in the sterile processing field, and they can prove that they have the necessary skills to be a valuable member of any Central Service department team. In addition to the skills listed above, a sterile processing technician should also have excellent communication and problem-solving skills to meet the needs of their employers. They must also be able to follow strict health and safety guidelines when handling dangerous medical supplies.