A central sterile processing technician is a medical professional who specializes in stocking, sterilizing, packaging, and preparing the tools and equipment that are used in surgical procedures. This technician frequently takes inventory of surgical tools and accessories and obtains additional supplies when necessary. He or she is often held responsible for ensuring the cleanliness and safety of operating rooms, tables, and equipment. These individuals may work in a number of different medical settings, including general hospitals, public health clinics, private doctors' offices, and specialized surgical centers.
A proficient technician can greatly ease the burdens and stresses on surgeons and physicians performing difficult emergency procedures. Surgeons can be confident that their instruments are sterilized and supplies are well stocked at all times. A central sterile processing technician usually refers to a checklist to make sure that sufficient quantities of gloves, masks, scalpels, needles, and other surgical accessories are present in an operating room. When supplies run low, a technician retrieves them from storage or places orders from distributing warehouses.
Many technicians work in highly specialized operating rooms, where they take great care to sterilize surfaces and equipment. Professionals are essential in preventing infections and the spread of disease from dirty instruments. They might inspect tools and equipment for signs of dirt or wear, and use alcohol pads or other chemical cleaning agents to sterilize them. Some technicians clean and maintain very delicate computerized and robotic equipment, taking extra care to avoid damaging machines.
An individual who wants to become a central sterile processing technician usually needs to obtain a high school diploma and complete a one- to two-year training program at a community college or specialized vocational school. Some states and countries require technicians to pass written and practical certifying exams administered by an accredited national organization, such as the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution in the United States. Many new technicians work under the supervision of experienced professionals for a certain period of time to learn more about the details of the job.
There is a strong demand for qualified technicians in hospitals, medical clinics, doctors' offices, and nursing homes worldwide. Professionals are especially valued in locations where healthcare is historically insufficient or difficult to obtain. Skilled international technicians can help to prevent pandemics and ensure that quality, safe medical attention is provided to people in need.