For many, an immediate shift into an online sterile processing technician training program from the traditional high school classroom can be overwhelming.
Students are taught to learn a certain way throughout their primary school years, so switching to an online program can be surprising.
However, there are many benefits with some drawbacks that students should consider before enrolling in a traditional program.
Also, plenty of tips and tricks exist to be successful in an online sterile processing technician program.
Keep reading this guide to have all your questions answered about online sterile processing technician training programs!
- Benefits of Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Programs
- Drawbacks of Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Programs
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Sterile Processing Technician Programs – Summary Table
- What Courses are in an Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Program?
- Can You Earn a Sterile Processing Technician Certification Completely Online?
- How Long Does it Take to Earn a Sterile Processing Technician Certification Online?
- How Much Does an Online Sterile Processing Technician Certification Cost?
- Types of Sterile Processing Technician Certifications
- 4 Self-Study Tips for Sterile Processing Technician Online Students
- Frequently Asked Questions
Benefits of Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Programs
Multiple benefits exist to taking an online sterile processing technician training program, including the following:
Additional Free Time
Since your free time isn’t spent sitting in a classroom or commuting to and from school, you have extra time with friends and family.
This is critical to maintaining a positive balance between school and leisure time.
Also, online classes make it significantly easier to work while going to school, which can help pay off debt or pay for the sterile processing technician program.
Advanced Education Options
Many online sterile processing technician graduates proceed to advanced degrees in nursing, hospital administration, surgical technology, and many other roles within the medical community.
Some continue schooling immediately after graduating from the online sterile processing technician program, while others enter the workforce and pursue additional education at night or with online classes.
In addition to enjoying free time with friends and family, taking an online sterile processing technician training program gives a vast amount of flexibility.
Classes a structured so you can learn at your pace while working and access the materials on-demand throughout the program.
Therefore, if you need to review a confusing area, the information is readily available in digital format.
This also helps if you are a morning person or night owl, whatever is your most productive time of day.
Most online sterile processing technician programs provide immediate feedback on quizzes and tests.
Since the test questions are loaded into the online learning platform, the system calculates a grade instantly.
As a result, there’s no need to wait weeks for an instructor to grade and post each test manually.
Improved Time Management
Time management is one of the best skills learned in an online sterile processing technician program.
Since students primarily work independently from home, time management is critical to success.
In addition, this helps graduates since time management is required in the field to ensure all equipment is maintained and sterilized within tight timeframes before the next surgical team needs the tools.
Since you aren’t learning in a brick-and-mortar location that consumes electricity, maintenance, and other overhead, many online sterile processing technician programs are considerably cheaper than a traditional in-classroom experience.
This allows you to make lower monthly payments or pay the program off more easily from work while taking the courses.
It also helps lower debt upon graduation.
On-Demand Coursework Access
When taking a traditional sterile processing technician program, your learning is at the mercy of your note-taking.
Some instructors offer video presentations on the course material, which you must rewatch to find the proper information.
In an online sterile processing technician class, students have on-demand access to all course materials.
In addition, since they are digital, they can quickly search for specific topics, thus saving time and increasing information retention.
Drawbacks of Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Programs
Like with any program, there are several drawbacks to online sterile processing technician training, including the following:
This ties in with the next point, online classes cause students to fall into social isolation without a professor or peer interaction.
Students who spend a significant amount of time online can experience social isolation because of no or little human interaction.
This can lead to mental health issues like negative thoughts, anxiety, and heightened stress.
Lack of Face-to-Face Communication
The biggest downside to online learning is the need for face-to-face communication.
Taking an online sterile processing technician program may be a major challenge if you are more of a social individual.
Many learn better in group settings with the instructor immediately available to answer questions.
This could cause some students to feel tremendous pressure and abandon their studies more easily.
Limited Quality Assurance
Accreditation is one of the most critical aspects of searching for a reputable online sterile processing technician program.
Unfortunately, plenty of unaccredited online programs provide a subpar educational experience to students.
Accreditation ensures the program is up to the educational standards required by the state.
Requires Strong Time Management Skills
An online sterile processing technician program is an excellent option for those who wish to develop their time management skills or excel in this area.
However, if you don’t have this goal or have poor time management skills, an online program may end with a disastrous outcome.
Many students need the structure of a traditional classroom, with specific class times and due dates, to thrive.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Sterile Processing Technician Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Programs||Drawbacks of Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Programs|
|Additional Free Time||Can Cause Social Isolation|
|Advanced Education Options||Lack of Face-to-Face Communication|
|Flexibility||Limited Quality Assurance|
|Immediate Feedback||Requires Strong Time Management Skills|
|Improved Time Management|
|On-Demand Coursework Access|
What Courses are in an Online Sterile Processing Technician Training Program?
Two types of degrees exist for sterile processing technician students: certificates and diplomas.
The certificate program usually requires several months to complete and includes the following classes:
Professionalism in Healthcare
A class in healthcare professionalism focuses on providing students with soft skills training such as patient interaction, communication, professional appearance, emotional strength, diversity and cultural bias, medical ethics, and proper office behavior.
This class is usually only for a few weeks, but it is critical for the interview process and learning to be professional in the workplace.
Introduction to Medical Terminology and Human Anatomy
Most training is in medical terminology, human anatomy, and sterile processing.
The medical terminology and human anatomy course were created to familiarize students with medical language through word pronunciation, abbreviation, root words, suffixes, and prefixes.
This curriculum also usually includes anatomy, such as the organization of the cardiovascular, immune, integumentary, and musculoskeletal systems.
The other essential part of the training is sterile processing, which teaches students the correct sterilization, packaging, inspection disinfection, decontamination, and cleaning of reusable surgical instruments.
These techniques and procedures are eventually transferred to a hands-on environment.
A diploma program goes into more detail and requires eight months to a year.
Diploma programs include professionalism, medical terminology, human anatomy, and sterile processing but expand into more complex topics, including:
Information literacy teaches students how to conduct research and integrate it into written work.
This is typically an introductory course to help students throughout the program.
Microbiology is an important foundational class since sterile techs deal with contaminants like germs, diseases, and bacteria.
The primary role of a technician is to prevent and control the disease from spreading.
O.R., or operating room fundamentals, teaches students how the different tools surgeons use to tie into their responsibilities.
Topics include sutures, drains, dressing, wound healing, and surgical site preparation.
This class analyzes human behavior, which helps with soft skills in the medical community.
For example, although sterile processing technicians don’t deal with patients, they work across numerous teams, so understanding human behavior is critical.
The surgical instrumentation course introduces students to various instruments used in the operating room.
In addition, the course covers instrument classification, function, proper spelling, and the correct names of each tool.
This course reviews the operative environment, medical communications, legal responsibilities, and professional roles.
Understanding the connection between different medical departments in a healthcare facility helps sterile processing technicians know who to contact for what need.
Can You Earn a Sterile Processing Technician Certification Completely Online?
Yes, sterile processing technician training programs prepare students for the certification examination based on learned concepts and techniques.
The Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) exam is the most recognized certification test and is not required for employment but is advantageous.
Also, many online programs require local lab or externship work for firsthand experience.
Although not required, it’s best to implement practical use of classroom knowledge before applying for jobs.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Sterile Processing Technician Certification Online?
A sterile processing technician certificate can be earned online in as little as one-to-two months, depending on how fast you work through the material.
The median completion time is two months; students must schedule and take the certification examination.
Diploma programs are more involved and require an eight-month to a one-year commitment.
An associate degree in surgical technology or a related field covers all sterile processing technician topics and goes into more detail regarding surgery preparation and instrumentation.
This degree requires a time commitment of around two years.
How Much Does an Online Sterile Processing Technician Certification Cost?
Online sterile processing technician certifications range from as little as $600 to tens of thousands for an associate degree.
In addition, there is a direct correlation between the cost of a program and the length of time required to complete the program.
Types of Sterile Processing Technician Certifications
The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) offers four certifications, including the following:
Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST)
The CRCST certification is for entry-level technicians who have proven they hold the knowledge, competency, and skills required to succeed as sterile processing technicians.
These individuals clean, decontaminate, maintain, sterilize, inspect, assemble, disassemble, store, and package surgical equipment in medical facilities.
Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS)
The CIS certification was created for those with the required skills to work as advanced instrument specialists in a sterile processing department.
CISs focus specifically on instrument support systems and medical instruments.
Certified Endoscope Reprocess or (CER)
According to industry strangers, the CER certification was developed for those with knowledge of storing, transporting, sterilizing, disinfecting, inspecting, decontaminating, testing, and pre-cleaning endoscopes.
Certified Healthcare Leader (CHL)
Those with the CHL certification manage intra- and inter-departmental communications, human resource management, staffing, reporting, finance, compliance, and industry standards.
4 Self-Study Tips for Sterile Processing Technician Online Students
There are several self-study tips to help you succeed in an online sterile processing technician program, including:
- Creating a productive learning environment – establishing a work area within your home or apartment can help separate school from your regular life.
- Focus on self-care – this includes stepping away from the computer regularly or sleeping in if necessary.
- Seek virtual interactions – always seek virtual interactions with peers to help avoid social isolation.
- Set a schedule – setting a schedule ensures you create and follow a routine, which is critical to turning in assignments on time.
Taking an online sterile processing technician training program is only the right path for some students.
If you have excellent time management skills and motivation without interacting with other students and the instructor, this might be your best path.
However, if you need the discipline and structure of a traditional classroom, then go the brick-and-mortar learning path, as you likely have your entire educational career!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is taking an online sterile processing technician class difficult?
Becoming a sterile processing technician is a challenging task.
There are many techniques and procedures to remember and implement in a lab and firsthand setting.
Depending on your self-discipline, taking the class online can be more difficult because there needs to be more instructor interaction and intervention.
For some, it is much easier to learn independently, but that is only the case.
Therefore, taking a sterile processing technician course or program online could add a challenge for some.
What is the best way to study for online sterile processing exams?
Studying for an online exam is the same as studying for an in-class exam.
Review the instructor’s material and attempt to retain as much as possible.
Also, taking online practice exams with realistic questions can help prepare you for sterile processing tests.
How many hours per day should you study for an online sterile processing technician program?
The best rule of thumb is to study at least three hours per week per credit and an additional hour per class weekly to review all materials.
Therefore, a three-credit online class requires nine hours of study time per week plus one hour of review time.
What is the sterile processing technician certification examination?
The IAHCSMM CRCST certification exam comprises seven distinct sterile processing areas, including sterilization, documentation, preparation, disinfection, decontamination, and cleaning.
A score of at least 70% will earn you the certification.