Scrub Nurse Training Program and Certification

If you'd like to work in the medical field helping people, one option is to become a scrub nurse. To learn more about the training needed and the responsibilities of this career, including licensing and certification, read on. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Programs Are Available?

While licensed nurses can perform the same 'scrub' duties as surgical technicians, programs in surgical technology are available at the diploma, certificate and associate's degree levels. These programs prepare you for the workforce, although it could also be preparation for a bachelor's degree program in a related field. Because this course of study usually requires you to complete a clinical requirement, these programs are rarely offered online. However, some required courses may be available online. Surgical techs don't require nursing education.

Degree Levels Diploma, certificate and associate's degrees
Scrub Nurse Duties Testing surgical equipment, disinfecting surgical sites, operating medical equipment and transporting patients
Possible Courses Microbiology, human anatomy, medical terminology, professional development and medical ethics
Licensing and Certification Licenses are not required, but employers prefer certified technologists

What Is a Scrub Nurse?

Depending on your level of education, the duties of a scrub nurse could be performed by a surgical technologist (surgical technician) or a perioperative nurse. The term 'scrub nurse' is the person who 'scrubs in' before and during a medical operation.

Your responsibilities could include assembling and testing surgical equipment, shaving and cleaning patients, disinfecting surgical sites, transporting patients to the operating room or preparing operating drapes. During surgery, it might be your job to pass instruments to the surgeon, sterilize surgical instruments, prepare specimens or to operate basic medical equipment, such as lights and suction machines.

What Classes Could I Take?

Coursework in a surgical technology program combines fundamental medical theory with practical training in instruments and operating room techniques. You could learn about nutrition, disease and healthcare business practices. You could also study professional communication, teamwork and basic surgical techniques. The following are examples of classes you might find in the curriculum:

  • Microbiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Medical ethics
  • Clinical methods
  • Human anatomy
  • Professional development
  • Medical terminology

Do I Need to Be Licensed or Certified?

Surgical technicians don't need to be licensed like traditional nurses, but employers often seek certified technologists. One organization granting certification is the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTA). The NBSTA administers the Certified Surgical Technologist examination ( There are several education and experience eligibility options. The exam content tests your knowledge of pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative procedures as well as administrative tasks.

If you'd like to work with surgeons and other medical staff in a nursing capacity, the completion of a formal nursing program and passing of the National Council Licensure Examination is necessary along with any state requirements.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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