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. 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.
In Mozambique, they provide advanced surgical services, often working autonomously in the absence of a physician. 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.