Surgical technologist

Surgical technologist demonstrating proper precautionary raised idle hand position

A surgical technologist, also called a scrub, scrub tech, surgical technician, or operating room technician, is an allied health professional working as a part of the team delivering surgical care. Surgical technologists are members of the surgical team.[1] The members of the team include the surgeon, surgeon's assistant, circulator nurse and anesthesia provider (anesthesiologist). They possess knowledge and skills in sterile and aseptic techniques. There are few mandatory professional requirements for surgical technologists, and the scope of practice varies widely across countries and jurisdictions. Surgical technologists attend junior colleges and technical schools, and many are trained in military schools. In the military they perform the duties of both the circulator and the scrub. The goal is for surgical technologists to be able to anticipate the next move the surgeon is going to make in order to make the procedure as smooth and efficient as possible.They do this by having knowledge of hundreds of surgical procedures and the steps the surgeon needs to take in order to complete the procedure, including the very wide range of surgical instruments they may need. Specialties can include, but are not limited to, the following: genitourinary, obstetrics and gynaecology, urology, ENT, plastics, general, orthopedics, neurology, and cardiovascular. They only work in surgical or perioperative areas and are highly specialized.

Common tasks

United States

In the U.S., surgical technologists are certified and work under the supervision of a surgeon, registered nurse (RN), surgeon's assistant or other surgical personnel (such as a more senior technologist), to help ensure that the operating room environment is safe, that equipment functions properly, and that the operative procedure is conducted under conditions that maximize patient safety. They handle the instruments, scrubs, sutures, various surgical sponges, from extremely small, under 0.25 in (6.4 mm) square for neurosurgical procedures, to much larger lap sponges which are used during surgical procedures in or on larger areas of the body; irrigation fluids and medication.[2] They also perform basic tasks such as checking patients' medical charts and consent forms, and preparing sterile dressings. Surgical technologists also train other operating room personnel as a vital part of the surgical team.[3]


In Mozambique, they provide advanced surgical services, often working autonomously in the absence of a physician.[4] In other countries, professions with similar titles include clinical officers, clinical associates, or assistant medical officers, which can mean different things subject to local circumstances.