Top Accredited Surgical Technician Programs in Montana

Are you exploring a career in surgical technology and need to know your options in Montana? This concise guide dives into each accredited surgical technician program in Montana, focusing on “surgical technician programs in Montana.” It outlines what you can expect in terms of curriculum, skills, and experience, preparing you for a dynamic career in this essential healthcare role.

Key Takeaways

  • Montana offers comprehensive surgical technologist programs at institutions like Great Falls College MSU, Missoula College, and Flathead Valley Community College, each with different curricula and admission requirements to cater to the diverse needs and career objectives of students.
  • Surgical technologists must master a variety of skills, including sterile and aseptic techniques, effective communication, technical proficiency with surgical equipment, and adaptability to new technologies and unforeseen circumstances in the operating room.
  • Accredited surgical technologist programs in Montana prepare students for successful careers, with positive job placement rates and graduates equipped to take national certification exams, and there are financial aid and scholarships available to assist with the educational expenses.

Overview of Surgical Technician Programs in Montana

Surgical technician program at Missoula College campus

Montana is home to several surgical technologist programs that provide students with a robust education in surgical technology. These programs encompass two main categories: general medical theory and applied medicine within the operating room setting. They are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to perform their roles effectively as surgical technologists.

These programs are offered at institutions like Great Falls College MSU, Missoula College, and Flathead Valley Community College. Each program has its unique curriculum and admission requirements, offering students a variety of choices to suit their individual needs and career goals.

Now, let’s examine each of these programs in detail to understand what they offer.

Great Falls College MSU

Great Falls College MSU offers a detailed and comprehensive Surgical Technology program designed to prepare students for a rewarding career in the healthcare field. This program equips students with the essential skills and knowledge needed to function effectively as surgical technologists.

  • Program Overview:
    • The program provides a combination of lab, classroom, online instruction, and surgical clinicals.
    • It prepares students to work closely with surgeons and other healthcare professionals in the operating room.
    • The program is designed as a hybrid course to provide theoretical and practical knowledge.
  • Curriculum:
    • The curriculum includes competency-based clinical labs and hands-on training in clinical facilities.
    • Students learn to prepare operating rooms, handle instruments, equipment, supplies, and medications.
    • The program includes clinical rotations, some of which may be outside the Great Falls area, requiring students to cover transportation and housing costs.
    • Students advance to a high level of independence during their internship.
  • Key Features:
    • Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
    • Prepares students to sit for the national examination to become Certified Surgical Technologists (CST).
    • Meets or exceeds benchmark standards on student retention, CST exam results, graduate job placement, employer satisfaction, and graduate satisfaction.
  • Student Support:
    • Program Director and faculty available for guidance.
    • The limited number of students are accepted per year due to clinical space and other factors.
    • The application requires one semester prior to the start of the program, which begins in the spring semester.

The Surgical Technology program at Great Falls College MSU offers a rigorous and thorough educational pathway, combining theoretical and practical training to prepare students for a successful career as surgical technologists. The program is nationally accredited and ensures students meet the highest standards in the field.

Missoula College

The University of Montana Missoula College offers a comprehensive Surgical Technology program designed to prepare students for a career as surgical technologists. This program equips students with the necessary skills and knowledge to support surgical teams and ensure safe and effective surgical procedures.

  • Program Overview:
    • The program prepares students for employment as surgical technologists, integral members of the surgical team.
    • Surgical technologists work under the supervision of surgeons to facilitate safe and effective surgical procedures.
    • The program covers the theory and application of sterile and aseptic techniques, human anatomy, surgical procedures, and the implementation of instrumentation and technologies.
  • Accreditation:
    • Accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC-STSA).
  • Curriculum:
    • The curriculum includes degree-specific credits and course requirements detailed in the University of Montana catalog.
    • Students learn to ensure that the operating room environment is safe, equipment functions properly, and surgical procedures are conducted under conditions that maximize patient safety.
  • Key Features:
    • Students develop expertise in sterile techniques and surgical procedures.
    • Training includes both theoretical knowledge and practical application in real-world settings.
    • The program aims to produce graduates who are well-prepared for certification and employment in the field.
  • Admission Requirements:
    • Specific admission requirements and skills/standards required for the program are detailed on the program’s website.
    • The program begins a rigorous selection process to ensure that students meet the necessary criteria for success.

The Surgical Technology program at the University of Montana Missoula College provides a robust educational foundation for aspiring surgical technologists. Accredited and comprehensive, the program ensures that graduates are well-prepared for certification and successful careers in the healthcare industry.

Flathead Valley Community College

Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Surgical Technology. This program is designed to prepare students for a rewarding career as surgical technologists, providing the necessary training and education to assist in surgical procedures and maintain a sterile environment.

  • Program Overview:
    • The Surgical Technology program at FVCC prepares students to work as integral members of the surgical team, assisting in invasive surgical procedures under medical supervision.
    • The program focuses on the theory and application of sterile and aseptic techniques, human anatomy, surgical procedures, and the use of surgical instruments and technologies.
  • Curriculum:
    • The program includes both classroom (didactic) and hands-on (laboratory and clinical) training.
    • Students must complete prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” (74%) or higher before enrolling in the Surgical Technology core curriculum.
    • Core courses cover various aspects of surgical technology, including instrument setup, assisting surgeons, and post-operative care.
    • The program lasts three semesters and must be completed in the order listed.
  • Key Features:
    • Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
    • Students are prepared to take the national certification exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).
    • High pass rates on the certification exam, with a five-year trend showing pass rates of 91-100%.
  • Admission Guidelines:
    • Applications are accepted once a year, with a deadline of November 1.
    • Students must complete or be enrolled in required prerequisite courses and achieve a minimum grade of “C” (74%).
    • Admission is contingent upon completing prerequisites with satisfactory grades and passing a criminal background check.

The Surgical Technology AAS program at Flathead Valley Community College offers a comprehensive educational pathway, combining theoretical knowledge and practical skills to prepare students for a successful career as surgical technologists. The program’s high certification exam pass rates and national accreditation ensure that graduates are well-equipped to enter the healthcare field.

Essential Skills for Surgical Technologists

Sterile and aseptic techniques in surgical procedures

Being a surgical technologist calls for a unique blend of skills. Apart from technical knowledge, surgical technologists must demonstrate critical thinking, adaptability, effective communication, and excellent interpersonal skills. They should also have meticulous attention to detail and manual dexterity to handle delicate instruments and equipment with precision.

Moreover, surgical technologists should be:

  • adaptable to new techniques and technologies
  • capable of solving unforeseen operating room issues
  • proficient at stress management
  • able to maintain emotional composure in high-pressure situations
  • skilled in efficient time management and preparation before and during surgical procedures.

Sterile and Aseptic Techniques

One of the most critical skills for a surgical technologist is mastering sterile and aseptic techniques. Surgical technologists play a vital role in creating and maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room to prevent infection. They are responsible for the proper placement of sterile drapes and covers to maintain a sterile surgical field.

Surgical technologists receive specialized training in strict sterilization and infection control protocols to maximize patient safety. Their adherence to sterile procedures and maintenance of sterile fields is pivotal in infection prevention and patient safety protection.

Equipment Management

Specialized surgical equipment in the operating room

Surgical technologists frequently handle tasks like:

  • Setting up and operating specialized equipment, including surgical lights, suction machines, and cautery devices, in the operating room
  • Familiarity with a broad spectrum of medical equipment is essential, especially for invasive surgical procedures and the operative procedure
  • They must account for all instruments and materials pre and post-surgery to prevent retained surgical items.

This role demands:

  • a high level of technical proficiency
  • meticulous attention to detail
  • adeptness at troubleshooting technical issues with surgical equipment
  • ensuring that operations run smoothly and without interruptions.

Job Opportunities for Surgical Technologists

Surgical technologist in an operating room

The demand for surgical technologists is on the rise, with a growth of 6% from 2021 to 2031 projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the majority of surgical technologists secure positions in:

  • state, local, and private hospitals
  • outpatient care centers
  • physicians’ offices
  • ambulatory surgical centers

Others opt for roles in these settings.

A career as a surgical technologist offers:

  • Professional growth
  • Financial stability (with a median salary of $48,510 in 2021)
  • Diverse career paths, allow specialization in a variety of surgical fields and work in different settings.

Operating Room Roles

In the operating room, surgical technologists play several crucial roles. Their duties include:

  • preparing operating rooms
  • arranging equipment
  • aiding surgeons with specific tasks during procedures
  • preparing and handling instruments, equipment, supplies, and medications, ensuring that everything is for the surgical procedure.

Apart from these technical roles, surgical technologists also play a vital part in patient care. Empathy and providing emotional support to patients are key aspects of a surgical technologist’s patient care role, making them a crucial member of the healthcare team.

Specialization Options

Various surgical fields offer specialization opportunities to surgical technologists, each demanding particular skills and knowledge. Some of these specializations include:

  • Cardiovascular surgeries
  • Neurosurgical procedures
  • Orthopedic operations
  • Ophthalmic surgeries

These specializations allow surgical technologists to deepen their expertise and cater to specific medical needs, utilizing advanced medical technology and surgical techniques.

Furthermore, surgical technologists can emphasize women’s health by serving in obstetric and gynecological settings. In the realms of emergency departments and trauma centers, surgical technologists often take on the critical role of first responders and assist in urgent surgical care.

Preparing for a Career in Surgical Technology

Surgical technology students in a lab setting

Certain prerequisites are essential for those aspiring to a career in surgical technology. Surgical technology programs typically require a high school diploma or GED along with prerequisite courses in subjects like math, science, and English. A strong foundation in science and math is emphasized as being important for students interested in pursuing a career in surgical technology.

In addition to academic prerequisites, admission into surgical technology programs may also necessitate a clean background check and a negative drug test. Furthermore, surgical technologist training often includes hands-on patient experience through practicums or internships in hospital environments, providing students with invaluable real-world experience.

Prerequisite Courses

Before entering a surgical technology program, students must fulfill certain prerequisite courses. These typically include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology

These courses, overseen by the surgical technology program director, provide a solid foundation of knowledge that will be built upon in the surgical technology program.

In addition to these, CPR certification is commonly a requirement before students can commence a surgical technologist program. These prerequisites ensure that students have the necessary background knowledge and skills to succeed in the program and eventually in their careers as surgical technologists.

National Certification Exam

Upon completion of accredited Surgical Technology Programs in Montana, graduates are prepared to sit for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam. This national certification exam, a key step for surgical technologists, signifies their competence and dedication to the profession.

The pass rates for the CST exam have been consistently high in Montana, with 100% in 2017, 83% in 2016, and 95% in 2015. These figures reflect the effectiveness of the accredited training programs in Montana and their commitment to preparing students for success in their careers.

Program Accreditation and Outcomes

Program accreditation in surgical technology is fundamental in verifying that educational programs align with industry standards and effectively equip students for the surgical environment. Accreditation organizations play a critical role in the oversight of educational standards, curriculum relevance, and the overall quality of surgical technologist programs.

In Montana, several surgical technology programs are accredited by leading organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC-STSA). These accreditations assure students of the quality and rigor of the program they are enrolling in.

Accreditation Organizations

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC-STSA) are two leading accrediting bodies for surgical technology programs. While CAAHEP ensures that programs conform to the stringent standards of the healthcare sector, ARC-STSA evaluates and endorses programs for accreditation, with a specific focus on surgical technology and surgical assisting.

For example, the Surgical Technology program at Flathead Valley Community College, accredited by CAAHEP, demonstrates the application of CAAHEP’s standards in an educational context. These accreditations assure students of the quality and rigor of the programs, giving them confidence in their choice of institution.

Program Outcomes and Trends

Positive trends are evident in the graduation rates, job placement rates, and certification exam participation rates for surgical technology programs in Montana. These indicators reflect the effectiveness and success of these accredited programs in preparing students for their careers.

Graduation rates for surgical technology programs in Montana have varied over the years, notably standing at 71% in 2017, 64% in 2016, and 70% in 2015. Job placement rates show even more promising trends, with 89% in 2017, 95% in 2016, and 94% in 2015. These figures demonstrate the high employment success of graduates from these programs.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid and scholarships can provide substantial assistance to students enrolled in surgical technology programs. In Montana, there are several scholarship opportunities available, such as the Health Care Scholarship, Daniel Gilstrap Scholarship, and Geoffrey T. Corbin EMS Scholarship. These scholarships provide financial support to students, helping them focus on their studies without the burden of financial stress.

However, these scholarships are competitive and based on a thorough application process. Consequently, it’s recommended that students pay close attention to the application procedures and deadlines. Despite the competition, these scholarships are a valuable resource for students and can significantly ease the financial strain of pursuing a surgical technology program.


The journey to becoming a surgical technologist involves a blend of academic learning and practical training. Accredited programs in Montana such as those offered by Great Falls College MSU, Missoula College, and Flathead Valley Community College provide a comprehensive education, preparing students for a rewarding career in surgical technology.

These programs equip students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and hands-on experience needed to excel in the operating room. With a promising job outlook and diverse career paths, a career as a surgical technologist offers both professional fulfillment and financial stability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does MSU have a surgical tech program?

No, MSU offers the Surgical Technology program through Great Falls College and City College in Billings. Therefore, the program is not directly offered by MSU.

What is the highest-paid surgical tech?

The highest-paid surgical techs usually live in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Nevada, or Washington and earn between $66,590 and $73,960 per year. This is the highest-paying surgical technology specialty.

What is the best major for a surgical tech?

The best major for a surgical tech is a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, exercise science, nursing, pre-health, or a health-related field. The medical technician is also a common major for this career path.

What skills are required to become a surgical technologist?

To become a surgical technologist, you need a blend of technical knowledge, critical thinking, adaptability, effective communication, excellent interpersonal skills, and meticulous attention to detail. These skills are essential for success in this role.

What are some of the job opportunities for surgical technologists?

Surgical technologists can find job opportunities in various settings such as hospitals, outpatient care centers, physicians’ offices, and ambulatory surgical centers, and they can also specialize in different surgical fields. Consider exploring these options to pursue a career in surgical technology.