A surgical technologist first assistant may be called a surgical tech, surgical technician or an operating department practitioner, although most surgical technologist first assistants aren't nurses. Surgical technologists are unlicensed healthcare professionals who assist in the operating theatres of hospitals, outpatient clinics and GP surgeries. Surgical techs have varying degrees of education and experience, with surgical tech first assistants typically possessing more experience and education than a certified surgical technician. Salary levels are affected greatly by location and the size of the facility in which a surgical tech works.
Education and training
Most surgical tech first assistant receive additional training, usually obtaining a degree in surgical technology. Some are registered nurses who receive surgical training. A surgical tech first assistant must complete a surgical technology course After graduating from an accredited programme, a minimum amount of clinical work must be completed before a surgical tech is eligible to sit for the certification exam.
As of 2014, qualified operating department practitioners can start at salaries of £21,176 rising to £27,625 over time, according to the UK's National Careers Service. With several years' experience this can go up to £34,189. Additional cost of living allowances may be paid to those working in certain locations.
Salary by Employer Type
Hospitals are the largest employers of surgical technologists, followed by GP surgeries and then outpatient clinics. Dental offices employ surgical technologists, but are among the lowest-paying employers. The highest-paying industry is the offices of other health practitioners, such as ophthalmologists.
Surgical techs usually work 37.5 hours a week on a shift system covering evenings, nights and weekends. Overtime and on-call duty is also common in order to deal with emergencies. You would mainly work in sterile conditions in pre-operative areas, recovery rooms and the operating theatre itself. Surgical clothing and a mask is required for this job.
The job growth rate for surgical technologists is projected to be 25 per cent through 2018 --- much faster than the rate for all occupations. An ageing population ensures an increase in surgery, and ever-advancing technological improvements require surgical techs to keep abreast of the latest developments. Hospitals will continue to be the main employers of surgical techs.