How to Become a Sterile Services Technician: Essential Tips

How to become a sterile services technician, you ask? When you think of the healthcare profession, which characters come to your mind? Anyone other than doctors and nurses? Do you think these two professionals are the ones holding it all together? Well, not quite!

A sterile processing technician plays a significant role in saving lives. Central Service technician’s contribution is as noteworthy as doctors’ and nurses’. A sterile services technicians contribution did not get enough credit in the past. But the times are now changing! Now, you can play your part in the medical field. And you don’t need to juggle through excruciating academics for that to happen. You will not have to bear the financial constraints of a traditional medical school.

Consider this article your step-by-step instruction to get to the turning point of your career. Learn how to become a sterile services technician with this essential guide. Build your skills and join the team of a large and vital workforce.

Table of Contents

Who is a Sterile Service Technician?

A sterile service technician’s name and role don’t get mentioned quite often. So, you must be wondering who is a sterile service technician? What is their ballgame? How to become a sterile services technician?

The sterile processing technician is a highly trained professional. They work with infection control, operating rooms. They work hard to achieve the highest possible safety level for patients. Furthermore, they also fulfil their responsibility in emergency departments of the hospital.  An SPD technician assembles, packages, and sterilizes many surgical pieces of equipment. The Sterile Processing Department keeps the entire hospital operational. 

Sterile service technicians are the first line of defence against surgical site infections.

Why should you choose to become a Sterile Service Technician?

Sterile technician at work

Blooming Industry

Many hospitals’ Central Sterile Processing departments report high vacancy rates. It is due to a lack of workforce, skilled in medical instrument processing and management. By 2030, there will be a need for an additional 350,000 healthcare workers in the UK. The reason being, an alarming increase in patients with severe illnesses. So, if you want to join a sizable work-based community with secured employment, this is your chance to have it all!

Financially Efficient & Time Effective

A UK student, on average, spends around £12 thousand per year to go to medical school. Those opting for a degree in medicine, need to go to medical school for five years. You can skip all that and still be a part of the medical team in a hospital. You can make  your dream happen  by opting for a career in  Sterile Processing Department. And you can get on-job training from your employer in this field. The hospital may  encourage and endorse you to take more training. One such extensive training is  the Institute of Decontamination Sciences technical certificate. You can even get certified by taking online courses and add that “X factor” to your resume.

Extensive Growth Opportunities

Every designation in the healthcare industry is significant. Healthcare professionals are welcomed with open arms in every corner of the world. Being a sterile services technician could open up windows of opportunities for you even in foreign lands. With enough experience and training, you could quickly get promoted to managerial positions. Some supervising roles in the healthcare facilities are endoscope technician, a surgical technician. You could even become a certified trainer.  Open up your clinic for “Sterile Processing Technician” training and do research on the sideline.

Flexibility Paired with Good Salary

Healthcare facilities are stretched out across the country in the UK. So, you can easily get enlisted for a job. You might even get a job in your own chosen location. Some of these facilities even give you the freedom to decide your working hours. The average annual salary of a Sterile Services Technician caps at £26 thousand. However, it’s the policy of working 40 hours per week is a must in this field. It is pretty doable, if you’re at the starting point of your career in the healthcare industry. Besides, you can work different shifts according to your convenience. You can also pick up extra shifts and earn more for the overtime.

Do Your Part for the Society

If you find the thrill in life by helping people, then being a healthcare worker is something you were born to be! Some  might say the real “heart of the hospitals” are sterile processing technicians. Without the sterile processing team, departments in hospitals and clinics cannot operate effectively. You will be the lynchpin that holds it all together. You will play a cognitive role in a patient’s recovery. Though, you will not always have direct contact with the patient.

How to become a Sterile Services Technician?

So, how to become a sterile services technician? You do not need to go to a pre-professional university or obtain a degree in medicine to become a Sterile Processing Technician. But, you will still need a specific set of skills and knowledge in varied subjects.

Sterile technician

Educational Requirement

Before we begin, how to become a sterile services technician a high school degree is a primary prerequisite. After that, you can get into any vocational or skill-based training course. In the UK, students can sit for A-levels or the “National Vocational Qualification” test. It will help in taking the next step forward into becoming a Sterile Services Technician. You can further take online courses or go to college to take required courses. It will give you an advantage while applying for jobs. Taking courses such as A-level Biology or Chemistry will earn you extra points. Also, having a Level 3 diploma in Applied Science will give you an edge.

Apprenticeship

Entry-level apprenticeship or internship programs for healthcare science is widely available. Apprenticeships provide a blend of on job training along with theoretical learning. You might have the best  start in your career working with skilled professionals. To work as an apprentice, you’ll need level 2 vocational qualification. You can also get a job with an equivalent level of knowledge and expertise. Also, you must have GCSE English, Math, and Science at Grade C or higher or equal A-levels grades. Apprentice technicians after completing an in-house induction training program are qualified for progression. It requires IDSc (Institute of Decontamination Sciences) Technical Certificate and Foundation Degree Decontamination.

Volunteering

You can look up volunteering opportunities in healthcare facilities around your location. Besides, you can work at the NHS. It will help you to gain valuable experience that your future employer will consider. You can also volunteer in a private hospital or a dental clinic or pharmaceuticals, etc.

Direct Application to Jobs

Applying for a technician role right after finishing high school will be like trying out your luck! Even though it’s a long-shot and your chances of securing the job look pretty steep. Still, you must have a proper skill set and highlight your career profile in the resume in the best way. Your employer might even hire you and get you the necessary training to start right away.

Working in the sterile service industry precludes a working knowledge of medical terminology. You have to be wary of sterilization processes and infection management. Consequently, staying updated on various aspects of the industry is a must. 

Course Gate provides Certificate in Sterile Services Technician online. The curriculum is developed by industry experts. It contains  detailed technical issues and knowledge of a Sterile Processing department career. Also, the course is CPD accredited. It means you get transferable credits and skills to show for in your resume. With the training provided online, you can learn and work at your own pace, in the comfort of your home.

Why should you get certified?

The certification further adds to the value of your skills and work experience. Some facilities offer to pay- raise to workers who go the extra mile to become accredited. Certification entails your ongoing quest for knowledge to be the best in the field. The field of sterile processing is continually evolving in this ever-changing environment. Thus, it requires careful and continuous learning for both experienced and inexperienced workers.

In either case, there are more benefits than drawbacks when it comes to certification. Anybody looking at the specific credentials before your job title, will be impressed. Extra credentials and certifications speak volume about the particular employee’s ambitions and efforts.

To-do list on the job

Now, you know how to become a sterile services technician, let’s look at some job responsibilities. As a technician, you will work in the Central Sterile Processing Department. You will be concerned with the unit’s planning process. You will also be responsible for adequately selecting both material and human resources.  Furthermore, you will  be overseeing all the product reprocessing at establishment stages.

You will be required to operate at a fast speed in a demanding environment with challenges. You will be required to wear protective clothing all the time so as not to get exposed to chemicals. Furthermore, this will protect you from biological hazards during the sterilization process.

A detailed list of tasks you will be concerned with can be:

  • You will be delivering sterilized instruments and supplies for patient treatment.
  • Prepare the required surgical equipment for the procedures.
  • Pack and deliver supplies and carts on time, inside the healthcare facility.
  • You must have excellent upper body strength. The job requires a lot of physical exertion. For instance, putting together and carrying large surgical boxes, and working with autoclaves.
  • Check equipment for functionality and damage using a count sheet.
  • Have adequate knowledge of which decontamination method to follow.
  • You must be able to recognize hundreds of surgical instruments. 
  • Also, you must know the right tricks and techniques of steam sterilization. It is the most popular sterilization method for not using any harmful chemicals.
  • Furthermore, you will have to scrub away bioburden such as dried blood, sputum with utmost care and attention. The equipment may form rust if you are inattentive. 
  • Obey guidance of your place of employment, to ensure patient safety practices. 

Types of Sterile Services Technicians in the field

A female sterile technician

There are many other types of Technicians in Medicine and Dentistry. For instance, laboratory technicians, x-ray technicians, opticians, inhalation therapy technicians, and dental hygienists. Most of them differ from a traditional surgical sterile service technician. 

  • X-ray technicians assist radiologists in special procedures. Procedures such as femoral arteriogram, carotid arteriogram etc. are a technician’s speciality. X-ray technicians even tackle emergencies involving patients.
  • Inhalation therapy technicians may assist patients in learning self-treatment procedures. These procedures help with breathing.
  • A dental hygienist’s usual job includes preparing dental materials and sterilizing equipment. They also advise patients on dental health and suggest nutrition plans.

Areas you may need further knowledge of expertise

books

SPD is complicated. It is not only about washing toxic objects and placing them on instrument trays. A sterile processing technician is familiar with infection management, microbiology, instrumentation and asepsis. Yet, as an SPD Technician, you will be required to take further development courses. Because, you need to be posted with all the latest regulations in your area of work.

  • Adequate knowledge of Human Anatomy.
  • Be tech-savvy and have good computer skills.
  • Be a great communicator with excellent verbal skill.
  • Must be healthy and fit to work in a sensitive and humid environment if required.
  • You have to be a team player and bring their A-game every day to work.
  • And must maintain good personal hygiene practices.

In a managerial position, you may be in charge of personnel selection. You have to organize training and provide guidance to the newly recruited.

Certificate in Sterile Services Technician

Learn the methods of cleaning and sterilize the medical equipment. The course explains the process of cleaning and packaging, sterilizing, and quality management in sterilizing service.

Certificate in Sterile Services Technician

Learn the methods of cleaning and sterilize the medical equipment. The course explains the process of cleaning and packaging, sterilizing, and quality management in sterilizing service.

Conclusion

In essence, a sterile service technician is an important part of patient care. Career of a Sterile Services Technician is a growth-oriented career. Plenty of opportunities and promotions will be on your way, in this field. You will not be putting up with the financial and mental exertion of getting a university degree. The need for sterile services technicians is ever-increasing. So, it is now time for you to make a decision and act on it!

If you hate the idea of sitting at a desk inside a cubicle for 8 hours, then this profession will be a breather for you! You’ll constantly be on the edge of your seat, moving around the workplace. Static will be foreign to you, but you will definitely enjoy the thrill of it!

May 27, 2021

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