Sterilization is perhaps the greatest unsung hero of modern medicine. Without this process, thousands would die across the globe regularly. This is why all healthcare setups have arrangements for it and hire sterile processing technicians for the job.
Sterilization Tech is an excellent career for those looking to pursue it. However, as with all desirable career paths, there is stiff competition to be faced and one entering this field should come armed with all the information necessary.
If you are looking into a career in sterilization tech, you may have come across the word CRCST. So, what is it, and how does one get it? Here are the details.
What is CRCST and Why is it Important?
People are rapidly figuring out the bright prospects of career is sterile tech, and many talented individuals have started to enter this field. In such an environment, a candidate must stand out if he wants to make a successful career out of it. One of the ways to do this is by getting a board certification such as a CRCST.
CRCST or Certified Registered Central Service Technician is a universally recognized certification which proves that a sterile processing technician has a particular level of expertise in his job. Having a CRCST or equivalent qualification such as the CBSPD (Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution) makes a candidate more desirable for positions.
The pay scale for certified technicians is much more than for those who aren’t. Furthermore, having a CRCST or CBSPD also helps improves one’s long term career outlook and makes him more likely to get promoted to managerial positions as well.
Qualifying Requirements for a CRCST:
One of the best aspects of a career in sterile tech is the lack of investment required. One doesn’t have to spend years in time and tens of thousands of dollars in money on school. This means that you could enter into the job market almost immediately and start to earn money- that too, without the burden of crippling student loans.
Many medical instrument sterilization technician schools offer diplomas for sterile tech. These are short courses which last for between 30 to 200 hours over a few weeks or months respectively. They include a combination of theoretical knowledge about infection control, microbiology, and other relevant subjects followed by practical skill sessions based in a lab setup.
To be applicable for CRCST, the technician must complete 400 hours of work experience in an SPD or sterile processing department. This must be completed after receiving the diploma, either before or within six months of giving the certifying exam.
How to Ace the CRCST Exam?
To study for the CRCST exam, you will need the relevant textbooks along with the latest version of the exam manual. Skim through all the studying material and once you are clear on all you have to cover, prepare a working schedule. This is particularly important for those who intend to study for the exam and juggle work at the same time.
While work experience is a plus, it in no way is enough to prepare you for your CRCST. Reading books is a must. However, keep in mind that the most important thing to cover for your exam is the exam manual. This has 24 chapters which include all the exam essentials such are medical terminology, decontamination, packaging, forms and standard procedures of sterilization, etc.
On the day of the exam, sleep well, and show up on time. Have a good meal before coming in to make sure your brain has enough glucose to work with. The exam will be 3 hours long, but if you have been vigilant in your preparation, it’ll be more comfortable than a walk through the garden.
What does a Career in Sterile Tech Look Like?
Once you have done your due diligence and completed your education process, you are ready to start a career in sterile tech. Sterile technicians work in SPDs which are present in healthcare setups such as hospitals or clinics. Here, their job involves cleaning and disinfection of surgical instruments and other such tools. They are also called upon to disinfect surgical tables if needed.
Sterile Processing isn’t a dead-end job. One could expect pay to increase with the level of experience and could even hope to progress to SPD managerial roles with enough hard work and motivation. These things are especially true for those with a CRCST.
Note that passing that exam is only half the work for getting a CRCST. Perhaps the harder part is completing the necessary work experience of 400 hours. Without it, you can only get a provisional certificate which is practically useless until all the requirements are fulfilled.
CRCST can be a valuable addition to your CV if you are looking to land a high paying job in sterile tech. As the sterilization industry gets more and more regulated, many places are now actively asking for only those applicants with board certifications, making it more necessary now than ever.