What Is a Sterile Processing Technician?

Sterile processing technicians help to keep medical environments sanitary and safe. In this career, you are responsible for creating and maintaining sterile equipment and supplies within a healthcare facility. Continue reading to learn more about this career, including the job duties and required training. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Germs, bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants can easily be transported around a medical facility. When doctors are operating on or working with a patient, they will rely on the sterile processing technician to ensure that all supplies and equipment are completely sterile. 'Sterile' means that supplies are free from any type of contaminant that could pose a health risk to the patient. The technician is also be responsible for keeping sterilization equipment in proper working order.

Important Facts About Sterile Processing Technicians

Median Salary (2015) $33,804
Licensure and Certification Licensure is not strictly required; relevant degrees, training and certification greatly increase career opportunities
Key Skills Knowledge of the latest sterilization and aseptic techniques, experience with commonly-used disinfecting chemicals and equipment (ex: heat autoclaves)
Work Environment Must be prepared to work in hospital and clinical settings for which maintaining proper aseptic conditions is crucial

Source: Payscale.com

Duties and Responsibilities

Your job will involve collecting supplies and equipment and running them through the sterilization machine. After the items are sterilized, you'll wrap them in special material and distribute them to the proper departments. While cleaning items, you will need to determine the correct sanitizing method to use and wrap the proper equipment and supplies together in packages. You may have to follow procedures set by your employer and each department when packaging items after sterilization.

You also must manage inventory and ensure all items are accounted for before sending the sterile packages out for use. You'll keep a close inventory of your supplies and make orders when more supplies are needed. To maintain your sterilization equipment, you may run tests and keep records to ensure the equipment is working properly. Minor repairs to equipment may be part of your job, or you may have to arrange for maintenance to be done as needed.

Working Conditions

You can find employment opportunities in various medical settings. This may include work at hospitals, surgical centers, private practices, and other medical facilities. You may also work for an independent company that provides sterilization services to various medical locations.

Education

Through a sterile processing technician program, you may earn a certificate or degree that will certify you as a knowledgeable person within this field. In such a program, you will acquire the skills needed to perform your job duties, such as sterilization methods, equipment use, infection control procedures, supply management and hazardous material handling.

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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