Surg tech vs. LPN

  1. If anyone has ever been a surg tech your input is greatly appriciated! I applied to the LPN program and got put on the waitlist. There is also a surgery tech. program that is by selection only. Its based on your NET scores, resume, refernces, etc. Today I got a call and the director of the program offered me a position in the program. I'm just wondering if there is any advancement opps in this field, what types of settings and hours you would normally work, and if the pay is comparable or better than LPN. And also, how the duties compare to those of an LPN Any info you can share with me will help make this decision easier for me. Thanks!
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    About valifay

    Joined: May '06; Posts: 140; Likes: 5


  3. by   Daytonite
    here is information about surgical techs:
    at the bottom of this webpage is a link to the association of surgical technologists which is the national professional organization of surgical techs and to the council on certification for surgical technologists which offers the option of becoming certified in this profession.

    here is information about lpn nursing:
  4. by   valifay
  5. by   sunnyjohn
    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 for more info on what we do, pay, certification, scope of practice, etc.

    Good luck.
    Last edit by sunnyjohn on Jul 1, '06
  6. by   valifay
    I've actually read up on the field alot the past couple days and it really strikes my inerest. My husband thinks it will be the perfect job for me since I love the medical field. He thinks I'm nuts, but surgeries and such facsinate me. When I had my last surgery I had them keep me aware so I could watch it on the screen the doctor was looking at. It was pretty cool. So, my husband seems to think this would be a great opportunity for me and I would get more enjoyment out of it than nursing. So, I guess I'm going to give it a shot, and if it doesn't work out, then I can always go back to the LPN program with a couple years experience as a surg tech under my belt. Thanks for all you help guys!
  7. by   ewattsjt
    i know this may be a little or a lot late, but in case it isn't, let me give my 2 cents. this would also be relevant to anyone else who is thinking about the difference.

    my facility uses the cst and lpn job descriptions the same in surgery. while a lpn can give meds, they usually do not in surgery. the lpn will allow you to earn more than a cst outside a hospital like in a nursing home.

    there are programs that allow you to transition from a lpn to rn while there isn't many, if any at all that allow a transition from st/cst to rn.

    many techs will say the st program can be used as a stepping stone but unless it is an associate degree st program and the prerequisites are the same as nursing, it really can not. lpn and st are really two different fields. surgical technologists are specialized in surgery while a lpn is a nurse of lesser status than rn. sts are confined to surgery, endoscopies, decontamination/sterile supply and physician offices. lpns can work surgery, endoscopies, floor, most specialties, physician offices, nursing homes, etc...

    having said all that... cst will make your specialty surgery. you may not make as much but being involved in the actual surgery is a blast. seeing the anatomy and how it can work is sometimes unbelievable. you can usually hire straight out of school into a st job. my facility requires a lpn to have one year experience in surgery to hire in. they also prefer to hire csts over lpns and sts. so one really needs to check on what their area requires or accepts.

    btw i am a cst with an associate that is going back for rn (maybe). my facility doesn't use rns for scrubs unless they are hard up. if i finish the rn, i would be taken out of the scrub role unless i left my current employer.
  8. by   leashmarie
    Thanks so much for your great info!