Pathways to Success: Your Guide to Surgical Technician Training in Arkansas

Embarking on surgical technician training in Arkansas opens doors to a rewarding career in healthcare. This article lays out the necessary steps, from selecting an accredited program and obtaining certification to understanding the job market and salary expectations in Arkansas. Ready to take the plunge? Let’s explore how to navigate the path to becoming a skilled surgical technician in this state.

Key Takeaways

  • Arkansas provides a range of accredited surgical technician training programs that combine classroom learning with surgical suite experience, and candidates typically need prerequisite courses and a high school diploma to enroll.
  • Certification as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) is highly valued, while ongoing education is required to maintain CST status.
  • Hands-on clinical experience is integral to surgical technologist training in Arkansas, with internships and clinical rotations providing practical skills and professional networking opportunities.

Exploring Surgical Technician Programs in Arkansas

Surgical technology program in Arkansas

Arkansas offers a rich variety of surgical technician training programs, ranging from 12-month certificate programs to two-year associate degree programs. These programs meticulously blend classroom theory with actual surgical suite experience, a critical component in the training of a competent surgical technologist. Aspiring candidates need to have a high school diploma and should have completed prerequisite courses such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and microbiology.

The vast array of programs cater to different career goals, offering flexibility for students. Regardless of the program you choose, make sure it’s accredited. For instance, the Surgical Technology program at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith is accredited by the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for their roles in operating rooms.

North Arkansas College

North Arkansas College holds a prominent position among the distinguished institutions that offer surgical technology programs in Arkansas. It offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science Surgical Technology Degree, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This accreditation is a testament to the quality of education offered, enabling students to emerge as competent surgical technologists.

North Arkansas College’s program prepares graduates to function effectively as members of the surgical team, handling appropriate responsibilities before, during, and after surgery. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates can write the National Certification Examination to become Certified Surgical Technologists (CSTs), an esteemed credential in the surgical technology field.

University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS)

Another institution of note is the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS), known for its comprehensive Surgical Technology program. The program includes coursework in medical terminology, human anatomy, and general microbiology, combining these academic studies with actual surgical suite experience.

The UAFS program prepares students for a variety of surgical technologist duties. These include preparing operating rooms and patients for surgery and assisting during and after the operation. This balanced approach of theory and practical application is designed to equip students with the necessary skills to excel in the surgical technology field.

Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK)

For individuals aiming to become surgical technicians, Southeast Arkansas College (SEARK) emerges as an excellent selection. SEARK offers a comprehensive Surgical Technology program, with the following features:

  • Application deadlines typically falling on the 2nd Friday in April
  • The program is competitive due to limited class sizes
  • Preference is given to applicants who have completed, or are currently pursuing, all prerequisite coursework.

SEARK’s program is accredited by the CAAHEP, ensuring students receive a high standard of education. The college’s Surgical Technology program provides two educational paths: a one-year Technical Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). This allows students to choose the option that best fits their career goals and schedule. Degree. This flexibility allows students to choose a path that best aligns with their career goals.

Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Certification

Preparation for CST examination

Certification is a significant stepping stone in the career of a surgical technologist. The Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential is provided by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). While certification is not a legal requirement, it is strongly recommended and preferred by most employers.

A CST certification offers several benefits, including:

  • Indicating a professional’s commitment to maintaining high standards in patient care
  • Enhancing career opportunities
  • Opening doors to higher salary brackets
  • Providing access to more prestigious positions.

We will now explore the process of preparing for the CST examination and how to maintain the certification.

Exam Preparation

To prepare for the CST examination, a broad understanding of various knowledge areas is essential, without an excessive focus on any single subject area or surgical specialty. To pass, candidates must correctly answer 98 out of 175 questions, of which only 150 questions are scored. A thorough review of the CST exam content outline is an essential part of the preparation process, providing details on all the topics that will be included in the test.

Study strategies should include identifying and concentrating on unfamiliar areas outlined in the exam content. Utilizing resources like practice exams and a test preparation app offered by the NBSTSA can also aid candidates in becoming comfortable with the examination’s format and question styles.

Pre-exam planning should include confirming the test center’s location and preparing the necessary identification to prevent any complications on the day of the exam.

Maintaining Certification

Just as crucial as acquiring the CST certification is maintaining it. Certified Surgical Technologists must earn a total of 30 continuing education (CE) credits before their two-year certification cycle expires to renew their credential, with at least 4 of these credits being live. Submitting these credits to the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) via mail or email is a straightforward process.

Credits can be earned through various AST-approved methods such as:

  • distance CE
  • hospital in-services
  • live lectures at conferences
  • in-person programs approved by AST

This continuous learning process keeps surgical technologists updated with the latest industry advancements and best practices, contributing to their professional development and career growth.

Gaining Hands-On Experience: Clinical Rotations and Internships

Clinical rotations and internships for surgical technician training

While classroom knowledge is fundamental, hands-on experience is irreplaceable in surgical technology training. Clinical rotations immerse students in real-world surgical environments, allowing them to apply classroom theory and develop practical skills under professional guidance.

During these rotations, students gain hands-on experience in a variety of surgical procedures, honing their skills in maintaining sterile conditions and assisting with surgeries involving major body organs, all while delivering patient care and working to maximize patient safety under the guidance of medical practitioners.

Clinical Rotation Process

Far from being just an add-on to the curriculum, clinical rotations form a crucial part of surgical technician training. These rotations typically consist of eight-hour days, multiple days a week, providing students with consistent, structured time in the surgical environment.

This real-world exposure allows students to apply the knowledge garnered from their academic studies, including classroom and laboratory instruction, in practical scenarios, enhancing their learning experience.

Finding Internship Opportunities

Adding to the key components of surgical technology training are internships, which provide valuable practical experience in a clinical environment. Many training programs provide assistance with securing internships, often partnering with local hospitals and clinics to facilitate placements for their students.

Networking can significantly enhance a student’s ability to find internships. This includes:

  • Participating in conferences
  • Joining professional organizations like the Association of Surgical Technologists
  • Connecting with practicing surgical technologists

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Surgical Technician Students

Financial aid options for surgical technician students

Your career aspirations should not be hindered by the cost of education. Thankfully, numerous financial aid options are available for surgical technician students in Arkansas, including federal and state aid, scholarships, and grants. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step towards accessing federal financial aid.

Additionally, various scholarships are available specifically for surgical technician students in Arkansas.

Federal and State Aid

Eligibility for federal financial aid requires surgical tech students to enroll in courses that count towards their major or minor as dictated by the Course Program of Study (CPOS) regulation. Prospective surgical tech students at Arkansas State are encouraged to complete the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA to access institutional financial aid.

Qualified students may receive financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and Veteran’s benefits.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are excellent sources of financial aid as they do not require repayment. Many such opportunities are available specifically for surgical technician students in Arkansas. These may require separate applications and adherence to specific eligibility requirements.

It’s worth investing the time to research and apply for these scholarships, as they can significantly reduce the financial burden of your education.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations for Surgical Technologists in Arkansas

Job outlook for surgical technologists in Arkansas

Choosing a career involves more than just following your passion; it also encompasses job prospects and financial stability. The employment of surgical technologists in Arkansas is expected to grow due to scientific advancements in medical technology and an increase in surgeries for various conditions.

As of May 2022, Arkansas employs approximately 1,410 surgical technologists, indicating a healthy demand in this profession.

Employment Opportunities

Surgical technologists in Arkansas have access to a diverse range of career opportunities. Graduates can find employment in:

  • Private surgeons’ offices
  • Acute care hospitals
  • Ambulatory surgery suites
  • Traveling surgical technologists

Moreover, surgical technologists can pursue specialization in specific surgical areas, manage central supply departments in hospitals, or find opportunities in non-clinical settings such as insurance companies and surgical equipment firms.

Salary Trends

As of May 2022, surgical technologists in Arkansas can anticipate a mean annual wage of $46,740. The mean hourly wage stands at $22.47.

Certified Surgical Technologists typically earn between $44,577 and $54,559, a rewarding compensation for the skills and expertise they bring to the healthcare system.

Tips for Success in the Surgical Technology Field

Achieving a rewarding career in surgical technology goes beyond academic qualifications and practical skills. It also demands ongoing learning, networking, and professional development. Developing a strong professional network in the surgical technology field can offer access to mentorship opportunities and facilitate the sharing of best practices.

Furthermore, joining professional associations provides surgical technologists with resources for continuing education, industry updates, and further networking opportunities.

Professional Associations and Networking

Members of professional associations like the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) can leverage the platform for continuing education, accessing current research, and fostering professional relationships. Networking with professionals during clinical rotations can lead to internship opportunities and potential job offers post-graduation.

Surgical technologists, as health professionals, can enhance their industry connections and knowledge by attending conferences, workshops, and seminars.

Continuing Education and Skill Development

To advance in the surgical technology field, lifelong learning and consistent skill development are indispensable. Surgical technologists can progress to higher-level roles such as first surgical assistants or registered nurses by gaining additional experience and education.

Pursuing further education and training allows surgical technologists to develop specialized skills, increasing their value within the healthcare marketplace.


In summary, a career as a surgical technologist in Arkansas is a rewarding and fulfilling choice. With quality training programs, opportunities for hands-on experience, financial aid options, and promising job prospects, there’s no better time to embark on this career path. So, why wait? Start your journey today towards becoming a vital part of the healthcare system.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get Nbstsa certification?

It takes approximately 6 weeks to get NBSTSA certification, with the option to add rush processing for an additional fee.

How much does a CST make in Arkansas?

A Certified Surgical Technologist in Arkansas can expect to make an average salary of around $49,595, with a typical range between $44,577 and $54,559.

How long does it take to become a surgical tech in Arkansas?

It takes two years to become a surgical tech in Arkansas through the program at North Arkansas College, which offers an Associate of Applied Science Surgical Technology Degree. This program provides the necessary education for individuals committed to delivering high-quality and cost-effective healthcare (Source: Wikipedia).

What are the entry requirements for surgical technician programs in Arkansas?

To enter surgical technician programs in Arkansas, you will need a high school diploma and completion of prerequisite courses like anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and microbiology. This information is essential for securing admission.

What are some institutions offering surgical technician programs in Arkansas?

Some institutions in Arkansas offering surgical technician programs include North Arkansas College, the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, and Southeast Arkansas College. You can explore these options to pursue your education in this field.