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Hiring Hoosiers: Certified Surgical Techs in high-demand at IU Health

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Posted at 6:00 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 17:59:41-04

Hiring Hoosiers is a new initiative from RTV6 that works to connect Hoosiers to employment opportunities, career development resources, training programs and educational paths. In our Hiring Hoosiers reports we are taking a closer look at barriers to employment and things that get in the way of people getting the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. For more information, visit HiringHoosiers.com. See new stories weekdays at 6 a.m. on RTV6.

INDIANAPOLIS — There are still patients that need surgeries and a local hospital system says its looking to hire more people help.

IU Health is calling on those with a passion to help others to consider a career as a Certified Surgical Technologist, also known as "CST."

IU Health employs almost 100 surgical techs at its Methodist and University hospitals and currently has more than 50 job openings across its system.

As IU Health gradually re-opens for elective surgeries that had to be postponed due to the pandemic, surgery technicians will play a key role in allowing that to happen and to accommodate patient needs.

In January, WRTV was in the operating room at IU Health Methodist Hospital speaking with David Wiseman, a CST. It is a career path he took on less than a decade ago.

"Previous to this I was actually in retail for over a decade," Wiseman said. "Managed a small business, a couple of retail shops."

Now this 42-year-old father, is the ENT Team Lead at the hospital and is also teaching future CST's at where he got his associate degree, Ivy Tech.

"I wanted to do something more meaningful with what I did every day and something that my children could be proud of," Wiseman said.

Four days a week you can find Wiseman in the operating room at the hospital, scrubbed in next to a surgeon, assisting every step of the operation.

"On a daily basis a CST is responsible for preparing for surgeries and knowing what they are going to be doing ahead of time, we have instrumentation we are responsible for obtaining and supplies," Wiseman said. "And we take what we know of the procedure and what the patient is going to have done. It requires a lot of critical thinking skills to be able to anticipate those needs for each individual patient."

It is a job in high demand at IU Health. CST's are only recruited once a year and there are a limited number of programs available in the state to earn a surgical tech degree from.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11.7 percent employment growth, which is far above average, for surgical technologists between 2016 and 2026. In that period, an estimated 12,600 jobs should open nationwide.

Certified surgical technologists do multiple jobs in the operating room. They gather supplies and equipment needed for surgery, check medications needed for surgery, help nurses with tasks like prepping patient, assist doctor in the surgery, maintain sterility of surgical instruments, and clean up the operating room after surgery.

At the moment, the demand for surgical techs is outpacing the production of them.

It has remained a stable position at IU Health despite changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Surgical techs are just such an integral part in the operations of the OR and we need them," said Aaron Wilson, Director of Clinical Operations/Perioperative Services at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

"We are getting back to running parallel business to having Covid patients as well as trying to take care of the folks out there who still need surgeries, we are looking at bringing those learners back to the environment so we can get the proper training that they need," Wilson said. "So yes, we still have that need out there for surgical techs throughout our system."

It is described as a challenging yet rewarding job, that for Wiseman, even working through the pandemic has not changed his mindset about his career path choice.

"If nothing else, it has reinforced my love for what I do," Wiseman said. "Healthcare has really come into the forefront of everything, everybody is aware of because of this and just hearing everyone talk about it all the time and knowing that every day I am going to work and I am driving to work and nobody else is on the road, and I am going to work to take care of people. It just makes me feel so much better about what I do."

Ivy Tech offers a two-year associates degree program. CSTs must do significant continuing education, since surgery techniques are constantly changing.

To remain certified, they need to earn 60 continuing education units every four years. Due to the complexity of many of the surgeries IU Health does, it requires it's surgery techs to be certified.

Within the next couple years it will be a requirement that all graduates of a surgical technology program have an associates degree. Also, CSTs will be put on a two-year certification cycle starting in January 2020 that will require CSTs to recertify every two years as opposed to every four years. At the moment the demand for surgical technologists is outpacing the production of them.

Starting salary for CST’s at IU Health is $19.15 an hour with opportunities for career growth.

To apply click here.

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