How to Help a New Generation of Talent Get Started as Surgical Techs
The labor shortage in the US is legendarily widespread. In healthcare, it is critical. But for surgical tech jobs in particular, it is shutting down operating rooms, limiting the number of surgeries, and affecting the quality of patient care.
Today, there are thousands of openings for surgical techs across hospitals and surgery centers, and it is increasingly difficult to find people to fill this important entry-level healthcare position. According to the BLS, more than 120,000 people currently work as surgical technologists and the field is projected to grow by 6% over the next decade. Between new and replacement jobs created by churn, healthcare providers need to hire about 10,000 surgical techs per year. Not to mention, vacancies can take up to a year to fill. That’s a long time for a hospital to go without the critical personnel who gather all the necessary equipment ahead of time, hand instruments to the surgeon, and even hold organs in place during surgery.
To help solve this labor crisis, MedCerts has designed a best-in-class surgical technologist certificate to support colleges and healthcare providers looking for a more accessible, affordable, and reliable way to get qualified surgical techs into the workforce.
Developing a Best-in-Class Surgical Tech Program
According to Colleen Leard, a healthcare subject matter expert for MedCerts, COVID lockdowns were the catalyst that drove the need for their new program. When students could not enter the classroom or operating room for months on end, their studies were upended. Further, COVID disruptions caused many surgical techs to leave the labor market. The combination of students being forced out of class and low labor force participation spawned the intense, nationwide labor shortage we see now.
MedCerts’ programs are ideally suited to solve this shortage because they are offered online and are designed to fit into any existing curriculum or programs.
To develop the program, MedCerts had to think outside of the box because developing an online program for something that is as hands-on as surgical technology is clearly tricky. So Leard and Megan Ludwig, a surgical technology instructor, focused the online coursework on the core elements that students need before they get started in an actual operating room. The coursework can be taken at any time, from anywhere, and ensures that students have a solid foundation before they enter the clinical setting.
To do this, MedCerts took the existing surgical tech core curriculum, extracted the salient points, and created clear, concise material which they then structured into didactic training.
MedCerts’ talented creative team then produced engaging coursework that features interactive videos, animations, and demonstrations that familiarize students with the operating room.
The program prepares the student to work as a valuable member of the surgical team, which includes the surgeons, anesthesiologists, and circulating nurses. Students learn the theory of sterile techniques, human anatomy, and surgical procedures. More specifically, the course provides learners with the following skills and competencies:
How to create sterile operative fields
How to maintain medical supply inventory
How to sterilize medical equipment or instruments
The correct way to assist healthcare practitioners during surgery
The preparation of biological specimens for laboratory analysis
The soft skills of an allied healthcare professional
Through MedCerts’ Train-and-Hire employer partnership model, healthcare organizations can work with MedCerts to recruit surgical tech candidates, enroll them in MedCerts online curriculum, and use their in-house surgical tech staff to provide the clinical experience needed for the role. This collaborative effort ensures surgical tech candidates are trained to the exact needs of a healthcare organization or hospital and students earn the real-world, hands-on experience they need to become registered, certified surgical techs.
The MedCerts online program includes competency assessments and the exam fee for the national certification, which is provided by the National Center for Competency Testing. Students complete the program in as little as 18 weeks. Upon completing the program, passing the exam, and finishing all the clinical requirements, students walk away from the course with an NCCT TS-C certification.
In addition to providing the curriculum-based educational content, which saves colleges and healthcare providers large amounts of time, money and effort, MedCerts provides student success advisors, to ensure students are making their way through the program, and exam preparation, to ensure they are ready to take their clinicals.
The benefit that really makes MedCerts’ program unique is that now, instead of opening a new classroom and hiring new teachers, postsecondary institutions can simply offer the online program by partnering with MedCerts. Right away. No expensive production. Hospitals, too, can hire new workers and provide the training themselves.
Making it easier for students to get started as surgical techs
MedCerts’ surgical tech program launched in April of 2022 and has given hundreds of completers the solid foundation they need to jumpstart successful healthcare careers. With a foot in the door, surgical techs often go on to become RNs, instructors, surgeons, and more, all of which the US desperately needs.
A growing number of schools, hospitals, and surgery centers are partnering with MedCerts to develop talent to fill surgical tech openings. The MedCerts’ process makes it easy to train and develop new surgical techs because the coursework is up-to-date, concise, and allows students to go through it on their own. MedCerts’ surgical tech certificate is also low-cost, which means students can get started in a very “low-barrier to entry” way. For only $4,000 ($233/month) students can take the program and MedCerts offers schools and healthcare providers a rev-share model that they can use to create revenue.
The ideal way to create a new talent pool for surgical techs
Recruiting talent from other employers is expensive. Frequently, too expensive. This means that in order to fill dire surgical tech roles, hospitals and other healthcare providers must increasingly create their own talent pools by using programs like MedCerts. MedCerts’ certificate is the perfect way to train new workers efficiently and effectively —without costing a hefty sum.
A student interested in Medcerts’ training can enroll either under their current employer or on their own. Either way works. To qualify, all students must have a GED or high school diploma and non-employer sponsored students must have at least two years of working in an allied health job with hands-on patient experience, be currently enrolled in a college/university-level medical degree program, hold an associate's degree or current Sterile Processing certification.
A triple win for healthcare
The demand for surgical techs isn’t going to go away anytime soon. A partnership with MedCerts is the perfect remedy to the surgical tech shortage because it allows hospitals to focus on what they are good at, provides a trusted partner to take on the core training and coursework, allows students to get started in a cost-effective, flexible way, and can be used to constantly develop new talent, or to help current surgical techs brush up on their skills and learn updated techniques.
As MedCerts continues to develop this new program, it is on the cutting edge of fulfilling new requests from the Department of Labor to do more to create apprenticeship programs for surgical tech. MedCerts has been a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship intermediary provider since 2020 and is one of the few online intermediaries for healthcare programs. Apprenticeships can help employers reduce hiring costs, build scalable programs across regions and states and hire skilled talent 50% faster than typical college programs. MedCerts assists its employer partners in setting up DOL-approved apprenticeship programs, establishes the proper reporting, and can provide connections to workforce grants to offset the cost of training.
Colleen Leard is excited to see the program take off and says, “It is taking the best of both worlds - a great didactic curriculum, and the outstanding clinical experience that hospital preceptors can offer the students. The program gives the next generation the start they need and helps healthcare facilities fill the positions they so desperately need with certification-ready surgical technologists.”