Frequently Asked Questions
About the Surgical Technology Profession
A Surgical Technologist (ST) assists the surgeon, registered nurse and anesthesia care provider with care of the surgical patient. The ST arranges the supplies and the instruments needed and hands these to the surgeon during the procedure. S/he may retract tissue, suction fluids, and assemble complex equipment. After the procedure, s/he and the nurse transfer the patient to the postoperative unit. Then, they clear away the used materials.
Knowledge of Surgical Anatomy and Physiology allows the ST to comprehend the surgical procedures. The fundamentals of Conceptual Physics help him/ her understand the workings of complex surgical equipment and ways to protect him/ her and others from harm. Infection Control practices such as Sterilization and Disinfection, and Aseptic Technique, are based on lessons in Microbiology. In order to ensure the safety of the patient, the student also studies O.R. Pharmacology so as to assist the surgeon with medication administration.
An ST can work in hospital operating rooms, free‐standing ambulatory surgery centers, clinics, and surgeons’ offices. With experience and further training, s/he can specialize in a particular service, become a Team Leader, or take the position of the Central Services Manager.
A typical day for an ST starts at 7 am. The ST and the nurse are assigned to a single operating room where a wide variety of surgical procedures may be scheduled. One day, for example, a patient may need their tonsils removed; another may arrive with a broken arm; later the Surgical Team may assist with the use of robots to remove a tumor from the lung.
Surgery is a complex activity where the surgeon relies on well‐trained personnel to ensure everything is ready for the patient. This is a satisfying, fun, interesting, and, at‐times stressful profession that offers job security and mobility.
About the program at Skyline College
One year beginning in the summer semester. Summer semester is from mid‐June to mid‐August. Fall semester is from the third week in August to third week in December. Spring semester is from the second week of January to end of May.
Summer: Monday through Thursday from 8 am to noon. Fall: Monday through Thursday, 8am to 2:30pm. Spring: Wednesdays from 8 am to 2 pm. The rest of the week is spent in the hospital; those hours vary, but are usually 7 am to 3:30 pm.
Summer and spring classes consist of lectures and demonstrations. In fall, classes are followed by lab sessions.
Labs teach such skills as:
- Scrubbing hands and arms, putting on sterile gown and gloves
- Passing instruments and equipment
- Handling supplies and medications…And much more.
Students can expect to study 2 to 3 hours every day.
- High School Diploma or GED
- Human Anatomy equivalent to BIOL 250
- Medical Terminology equivalent to HSCI 484
- Microbiology equivalent to BIOL 240
Applicants who have achieved all prerequisites are placed in the lottery pool. Applicants who are still working on the prerequisites by the deadline may be placed in the pool if there are spaces available. Only complete applications will be considered.
We take no more students than we have hospital sites for training, usually 25. Then, we add a Waiting List of 15 randomly‐selected students.
Fees are subject to change. Students can expect to pay approximately $3700 in tuition, fees, books and supplies.
Applications are accepted from January 15 to April 1 of every year. Acceptance letters are mailed at the end of April.
Starting pay varies from $36 to $40 per hour. Some Surgical Techs in the Bay Area can make up to $82,000 per year.
Per the Surgical Technology Program 2018 Annual Report, there was a 90% pass rate for Skyline College students on the national certification exam. This is the Outcomes Assessment Exam (OAE) pass rate approved by the accrediting body of ARC/STSA.