Sterile processing technicians or central supply technicians serve a vital role in the healthcare industry. Sterile processing technicians decontaminate, inspect, package and sterilize equipment and devices used in the healthcare environment. These items range from complex devices to simple handheld surgical instruments.
A person cannot function as a sterile processing technician or central supply technician (CST) in a healthcare facility and a healthcare facility cannot employ or otherwise contract for the services of a CST unless the person:
- has successfully passed a nationally accredited central service exam and holds and maintains the following credential administered by a nationally accredited central service technician credentialing organization (e.g., certified registered central service technician)
- is a student or intern performing the functions of a sterile processing technician or CST if the student or intern is under the direct supervision of an appropriately licensed or certified healthcare professional and is functioning within the scope of the student's or intern's training
- works in accordance with Public Health Law (Rules, Requirements, and Use of Central Service Technicians)
Sterile Processing Technician Program of Study
Sterile processing technician programs of study deliver a curriculum which provides students with knowledge and skills related to the procurement, handling, storage, and distribution of sterile goods and equipment. Program components include quality assurance, infection control and isolation techniques, medical terminology and processes, decontamination and sterilization, and principles of microbiology and chemistry. The didactic learning combined with supervised clinical experience (see below) comprises a program of study.
Students successfully completing program of study components are eligible to sit for certification by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) for the certified registered central service technician certification.
Supervised Clinical Experience
- Affiliation agreement(s) must be established (a written contract with partnering healthcare facilities).
- Students may enter a clinical setting only after receiving prior program instruction, demonstrating related skill and knowledge, all under supervision by the school’s program instructor.
- Approximately 2/3 or 72 hours of the required 108 hours (1 unit) of clinical experience must be conducted in a work setting as defined by the program of study.
- Scopes of practice under various state licensures must be considered when developing hands on activities in implementation of health sciences programs.