I am a surgical tech and I love my job. I am not an LPN so I cannot compare the two. I do know quite a few LPNs who are scrubs and exclusively perfom this duty in their hopsitals (VA hospitals). I have worked in hospitals, surgical centers and derm clinics. I have worked for quite a few plastic surgeons here in the US and abroad. I have also worked as a dental (surgical) assistant for six dentists that had an EXTENSIVE OMS, endodontic, and peridontic practice. I have also been employed as a traveller, by some of the same companies many of the great RNs on this board use.
In many parts of the countries, surgical techs do not circulate. In some states they can. Most hospitals prefer that you function in the scrub role assiting the surgeon in the sterile field.
Surgical technologists are certified. We do not have a license like the LPN or the RN. We function and act under the license of the surgeon and the circulating nurse (which one may depend on who you ask and usually the strongest of the two wills in that OR
If you work in a hospital your "normal" hours will be 630 -7am to 3-330pm. Of course cases, run over and you may have to stay late. There is also a 3-3:30pm-11pm shift and often an overnight crew. Then there is the matter of "on call". You can be at your home or about you own business, but carry a pager or cellphone where the OR manager can reach you and call you to work in case of an emergency. How frequently you take call will depend on you facility. Most failities won't schedule surgery for a weekend or holiday, but if you work in a very busy hopsital or trauma center somebody has to be there those days. Someone has to be there those days in the small hospitals to.
The pay? Just like with RN pay, that depnds on where you live in the country.
A surgical Tech (who is not an LPN) cannot give injections. We cannot perfom the nursing tasks that are defined by the LPN/ RN license. Our education precludes that.
Being a tech is the best Anatomy and Pathophysiology lesson you could ever have. There is nothing like seeing a tumor close up, seeing a beating heart, or peering inside the human body. You will see more if the internal working of the human body than 90% of the human population.
If you have the time and money it is not a terrible idea. Many surgical techs use it as a "stepping stone". If you are going to be on that waiting list a LONG time, then perhaps you might want to consider it. How long is your Surgical Tech program? I don't believe education is ever wasted, but if you are going to do a 1-2yr long ST program and then enter an LPN program immediately after graduation, you might not have a chance to work much. Still sterile technique is something nurses use and you would make yourself an attractive candidate for an OR intership after getting you RN.
Check out www.ast.org
for more info on what we do, pay, certification, scope of practice, etc.