What is a Sterile Processing Technician?

HealthcareMay 05, 2020

COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on the urgent need for contaminant-free equipment and tools for hospital and medical workers, but you may not know who is actually responsible for helping ensure that instruments and tools are safe for use by medical staff and patients. That job is the role of the Sterile Processing Technician, an important position in the healthcare field. 

Sterile Processing Technicians clean and sterilize medical instruments as well as safely transfer and store them. They also examine, test and monitor instruments and tools to make sure they work properly. Often, Sterile Processing Technicians are responsible for a hospital’s inventory of all sterile items, including surgical gowns, masks and gloves. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to limited availability of new equipment, healthcare workers have sometimes been forced to reuse personal protective equipment, relying on the Sterile Processing Technician to sterilize items as necessary. 

Is this Job Right for You? 

To be a Sterile Processing Technician, you need to have a high degree of concentration, focus and be detail oriented. You must also be prepared to comply with all hospital policies and adhere to strict sterilization procedures. At the root of the job is an understanding of microbiology as well as infection and disease control. 

Unlike Surgical Technicians, Sterile Processing Technicians typically work outside the operating room itself, but in support of hospital operations.  They serve an integral, supporting role in patient care and safety. Since this role does not interact directly with patients, it is best suited for someone who likes to work behind the scenes. 

Sterile Processing Technicians are employed by hospitals, physicians’ offices, inpatient and outpatient clinics and diagnostic centers. As the number of surgeries and other procedures grows each year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this field will increase approximately 10 percent by 2026 with over 7,000 new positions created. 

Getting Started 

If the idea of keeping people safe by ensuring that hospital equipment is clean and contaminant-free sounds rewarding to you, Fortis offers a sterile processing training program at select Fortis campuses, preparing students for entry-level positions in the field. To learn more about this important career, please visit the Sterile Processing Technician page on the Fortis website, or call (855) 436-7847 for more information.