The healthcare system has grown by leaps and bounds. One of the main things that ensure its success today is good sanitation. Imagine a world without medical equipment preparers, and you’d fall back into the past when infections passed around the ward like flies. All because sanitation was poor and no one specialized in sterilizing and preparing medical equipment.
Of course, it’s your dream to contribute to this sanitation, which is why you are reading this in the first place. According to Beckershospitalreview.com, there are over 1,326 critical access and 4,999 community hospitals in the US. All of these are heavily reliant on medical equipment preparers. But how long does it take to become one?
Let’s walk you through the answer alongside elaborating on the main responsibilities of a medical equipment preparer.
How long does it take to become a medical equipment preparer?
The primary qualification required for this position is a high school diploma. You are likely to get a job as a preparer. Several healthcare facilities appreciate you take a course or getting a certification for a medical equipment preparer.
The states of Tennessee, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, in particular, require certification for medical equipment technicians as per the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM).
Hence, if you are located in any of these states, you can’t handle surgical instrument tech unless you are certified to do so. These certification programs normally require between 15 to 42 credit hours. The exact number varies according to the school offering the program. In most cases, a high school diploma is required for enrollment. Certain schools may also require proof of immunization or health clearance.
About six out of ten technicians only have a high school diploma. 35% have completed post-secondary courses. Typically, such courses last for six months and train you in topics like sterilization techniques, medical terminology, and equipment management.
Some certification programs that you can take are training related to:
- Infection control
- Sterilization processes
- Human physiology and anatomy
- Surgical instrumentation processing and distribution
What does medical equipment preparer do?
Before proceeding any further, it is essential that we dive into the role that a sterilization technician plays. A medical equipment preparer is responsible for sanitizing and preparing instruments and equipment.
In a typical workday, a sterilization technician prepares, cleans, and operates medical equipment. To elaborate, one of the primary duties is to maintain a record of loads completed, disinfect and sterilize medical tools such as diagnosis equipment, washers, and aerators to name a few, operate and manage steam autoclaves, and so on.
Additionally, you will have to start medical tools and observe them too. The observation is to detect malfunctions in medical equipment so that they work as per the set standards. Some preparers may also track results of the sterilizer tests.
Other responsibilities of an equipment technician include attending educational events to keep their medical knowledge updated. They also may be required to attend in-service programs at the hospital related to their work specialization. Lastly, they may also have to assist hospital staff with patient care duties like setting up traction.
Consequently, a technician certification program teaches students the procedure for stocking, preparing, sterilizing medical supplies, tools, and equipment within clinical facilities. A medical equipment professional also goes with numerous other names. These include:
- Bandage maker
- Clinical Laboratory Aide,
- Central Sterilization Technician
- Equipment Technician
- Central Sterile Supply Technician (CSS technician)
- Central Service Technician (CST)
- Central Processing Technician (CPT)
- Certified Registered Central Services Technician (CRCST)
- Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST)
In addition to the diploma and certification program, healthcare facilities look for two skills in an equipment technician. These are monitoring and critical thinking. Hence, if you note that you have these skills, you should polish and showcase them to the right authorities.
How much do sterilization technicians earn?
Another important aspect here is the salary. According to OwlGuru.com, the job satisfaction rate for these technicians stands at 68%. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights that medical equipment technicians hold about 50,330 positions in the country as of 2015.
The same source also reveals that their median annual salary stood at $33,330 in 2015. OwlGuru also presents a similar estimate of the average annual salary of $34,950. Medical equipment practitioners are expected to work 40 hours a week.
In a nutshell, you need a high school diploma to work as a medical equipment preparer. In some instances, you’ll need a technician certification too. In either case, you need to have sharp monitoring and critical thinking skills. Generally, it takes six months to a year to be able to work as a sterilization technician.