Central Sterile Processing Technology Diploma Program
The Central Sterile Processing Technology program is designed to prepare individuals to work in the central service department of a healthcare facility. Also called medical equipment preparers, central processing technicians and instrument technicians, these professionals are key to the successful and safe operation of a healthcare facility.
Students sometime ask the difference between this and a Medical Assistant. Medical Assistants learn basic sterile techniques which are vastly different from a Central Sterile Processing Technician. The sterilization process and the volume of instruments is far less for Medical Assistant than a Central Sterile Processing Technician. A Medical Assistant sterilizes instruments used for minor office surgical procedures . The vast knowledge of instruments and their use is far greater for a Central Sterile Processor.
Central Sterile Processing is an actual job. Sterile Processing jobs are located in Surgery Centers and Hospitals. There are three different phases within a Central Sterile Processing department. Phase I is decontamination. This is where instruments are cleaned and disassembled. They then go through an automatic washer. Phase II is preparation and packing. This is where the instruments are inspected, tested, reassembled and prepared for sterilization based upon manufacturers recommendations. Phase III is the sterilization stage whereas the instrument sets are sterilized via steam, hydrogen peroxide, and ethylene oxide. Hospitals may vary as to which sterilizers they may have. The job of the Central Sterile Processor Technician is to ensure an instrument/set has successfully gone through all three phases ensuring safety of the patient undergoing surgery.
Program length – 10 months
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Students could learn to operate sterilizing units and monitor effectiveness of the sterilization process. Classes include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, surgical instrumentation, medical terminology, and inventory management.
Central sterile processing technicians disinfect, prepare, process, store, and issue both sterile and non-sterile supplies and equipment for patient care in healthcare settings.
Demand for medical equipment preparers is expected to grow by 14% through 2024 with 18,100 projected job openings.1
1U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-2017 Edition, Job Outlook, retrieved 4/26/16
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