Surgical First Assistant program equips you for an exhilarating profession as a Surgical First Assistant within the rapidly expanding healthcare industry.
The Surgical Technology program at College of Western Idaho (CWI) prepares you for an exciting career as a surgical technologist in the growing healthcare industry. Working under the direction of surgeons, you’ll facilitate the safe operation of invasive procedures maximizing patient safety and care.
In the Surgical Technology program, you will learn to set up surgical instruments, prepare and pass medications, provide direct patient care, maintain sterility, and set up surgical equipment in an operating room environment. In addition to those skills, you will also gain great understanding of the application of sterile and aseptic techniques, human anatomy, surgical procedures, and more.
Upon completion of the Surgical Technology program at CWI, you are eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Earning the CST credential makes you employable as a Surgical Technologist, locally and nationally.
The Surgical Technology program at CWI is a competitive entry program, accepting 18 students per year. It is recommended you work with your advisor in preparation for entry into this program.
- Typical annual earning in Idaho for a Certified Surgical Technologist - $51,131 - Idaho Department of Labor
- The Certified Surgical Technologist Field is expected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031 – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
CWI is excited to partner with Saint Alphonsus to provide opportunities for individuals to expand their education and grow in their careers. Learn more about this partnership.
Want to learn more about this program and other healthcare programs at CWI? Join a Healthcare Information Session to learn about the programs, what you can do to prepare for the programs, meet advisors and instructors, and ask questions.
The application period for the 2023 start has concluded. Applications for the 2024 start will open on Nov. 1, 2023.
PLEASE NOTE: Applicants will be notified of the status of their application via their CWI student email.
- Complete CWI Associate Degree or Technical Certificate application and be accepted to CWI.
- If you have completed a bachelor's or master's degree, submit a Bachelor's Degree Transfer Credit Request form.
- Verify your prerequisite coursework by:
- Complete the Surgical Technology Program Application and submit by the due date.
For help or questions regarding the Surgical Technology Program Application, please contact:
Statement of Accreditation
The Surgical Technology Associate of Applied Science Degree at College of Western Idaho is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
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The following is the CST exam pass rate on first time attempts from the NBSTA for eligible CWI students who completed the Surgical Technology AAS program.
- 2023 - 94% pass rate
- 2022 - 94% pass rate
- 2021 - 100% pass rate
- 2020 - 100% pass rate
- 2019 - 100% pass rate
- 2018 - 94% pass rate
- 2017 - 100% pass rate
- 2016 - 100% pass rate
- 2015 - 100% pass rate
- 2014 - 94% pass rate
- 2013 - 94% pass rate
- 2012 - 100% pass rate
- 2011 - 100% pass rate
- 2010 - 100% pass rate
- 2009 - 100% pass rate
The program is designed to prepare competent, entry level surgical technologists in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains. The curriculum prepares students to assist in the care of the surgical patient in the operating room and to function as a member of the surgical team. Students apply theoretical knowledge to the care of surgical patients and develop the skills necessary to prepare patients for surgery; prepare supplies, equipment, and instruments; maintain aseptic conditions; and assist surgeons during operations. Employment opportunities include large hospitals, labor/delivery/emergency departments, inpatient/outpatient surgery centers, dialysis units/facilities, physicians' offices, and central supply processing units.
Why This Program
A Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) assists in the operating room preparing instruments and supplies, passing them to the surgeon, anticipating and meeting the surgeon’s needs, and ensuring patient safety throughout the procedure. The stakes are always high in the operating room and the job can involve stressful, pressure-filled situations. The rewards of a job well done are worth the effort. The CST enables lives to be saved and witnesses momentous changes in patients’ health every day.
What You Will Learn to Do
- Sterilize, disinfect, and pass surgical instruments
- Understand surgical procedures and anticipate the needs of the surgeon
- Ensure quality patient care during the operative procedure
- Set up sterile table with instruments, supplies, equipment, and medications/solutions prior to operation
- Gown and glove surgeon and assistants
- Prepare sterile dressings and help drape a sterile field
- Vigilantly maintain a sterile field during surgery
- Count supplies prior to surgery and before incision is closed
- Assist other team members with terminal cleaning of room
- Help prepare surgical room for next patient
- Participate in a minimum of 120 Surgeries; including a minimum of 30 General Surgeries and a minimum of 90 Specialty Surgeries
Requirements and Costs
Skills, Traits, and Prep Classes
- A desire to serve others
- Ability to stand for extended periods of time
- Excellent hearing and sight
- Fluency in the English language - write, speak and understand
- Ability to function safely, effectively, and calmly in stressful situations
- Completion of pre-requisite Anatomy and Physiology, and Medical Terminology, as well as core math, Psychology, and Communications
- Computer Literacy Skills
- Competency in Microsoft Office Suite
Navigating your way through college can be confusing, especially if you try to go it alone. CWI offers advising assistance to help in deciding which courses you need to take to reach your education and career goals. Visit Advising or contact One Stop Student Services for more information.
Prospective students should be able to stand for long periods of time and have strong attention-to-detail skills. They must be able to lift heavy instrument trays, move quickly in emergency situations while maintaining a calm demeanor.
Instruction is provided in a classroom and lab setting, as well as clinical rotations at area hospitals and surgery centers. Due to the requirements of the clinical component of the program, and our clinical affiliations, enrollment is limited to 16 students each year.
Assemble the following materials in this order:
- 2 professional references using the Professional Reference form only. No letters of recommendation will be accepted. A professional reference includes employers and past employers, co-workers, supervisors in volunteer or non-volunteer positions, instructors or professors. Please do not include reference from family members, no points will be awarded for these. Clergy or physicians may be included only if they are past employers. The forms are to be filled out, signed, and placed in a sealed envelope by your reference person. The reference person should sign their name over the seal and return the sealed envelope to you. You will include the sealed envelopes in your application packet. No references will be accepted if mailed or faxed directly to CWI. Check the reference box on the application form when you have included the two references.
- If applicable: Include copies of CURRENT certifications/licensures (examples, C.N.A., C.M.A., E.M.T.).
- If applicable: Submit a completed Health Care Employment Verification Form for each place of health care employment or volunteer work. No other verification will be accepted. If you have other health care experience or volunteer work which you believe will qualify for health care experience, submit the form with detailed information of the type of health care experience. Check the box on the application if this is included or write “N/A.” If you have questions on what type of health care experience is accepted, please contact One Stop Student Services at 208.562.3000.
- If applicable: List any previous academic degrees you have been awarded, the date and school or college. Examples of an academic degree are: AA, AS, AAS, BA, BS, BAS, MS, and MA as well as Technical Certificates. This must be verifiable on your official transcripts. Check the box on the application if this applies or write “N/A”.
Connecting With Ideas
Connecting With Ideas (CWI 101) is designed to prepare students with the skills to succeed in college, a career, and life. Completion of CWI 101 is a general education requirement of students seeking to earn an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree from CWI. Students are encouraged to take CWI 101 during their first semester.Explore CWI 101 Pathways
Individuals admitted to CWI as a degree-seeking student who have earned college credit from another institution may transfer their credits to CWI. Visit Transferring to CWI to learn more.
Plan ahead for your transition to a four-year college or university. Students are encouraged to work closely with their advisor and representatives from the intended transfer school to ensure a smooth transition beyond CWI. Visit Transferring From CWI to explore our transfer partnerships.
College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs (CAAHEP). After completing the program, students are eligible to take the National Certification Exam for Surgical Technologists (CST). The CST credential is a requirement for employment in the hospitals of the Treasure Valley.
Cost & Aid
As a student in this program, you may be eligible for financial aid and scholarships. Visit Cost & Aid to view tuition and fees, explore types of aid, apply for federal financial aid, and more.
Are you a 2024 Idaho high school graduate? Learn how to get up to $8,000 of your tuition and fees covered at CWI through Idaho LAUNCH.
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