Association of Surgical Technologists>

  • Public Policy header
  • Legislative Mission

    AST advocates for quality patient care through the enhancement of the profession of surgical technology before state and federal regulatory and legislative bodies. AST State Assemblies, in coordination with the AST Government Affairs Department, drive grassroots outreach at the state level with the goals of fostering participation in the legislative process and passing legislation. 

  • Legislative Position


    State Law Overview for Surgical Technologists

    It is easy for hiring managers of surgical technologists to be in compliance with state law as it relates to education and certification.  With the exception of six states, if employers hire a person who is a graduate of a CAAHEP-accredited or other nationally accredited surgical technologist educational program AND who holds current Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), they are in compliance with state law.  Not any certification will do, as many bogus certification bodies exist.  The Association of Surgical Technologists and the American College of Surgeons only endorse the NBSTSA, which grants the CST credential to surgical technologists. Similarly, many state surgical technologist laws only recognize the NBSTSA credential. The NBSTSA requires graduation from a CAAHEP-accredited or other nationally accredited surgical technology educational program to grant the CST credential to a surgical technologist.  Thus, if an employer verifies that the surgical technologist holds the CST credential through the NBSTSA database, the employer can rest assured that the individual is also a graduate of a CAAHEP-accredited or other nationally accredited surgical technology educational program.  For long-term employees, employers should periodically check for current CST certification through the NBSTSA, to make sure their surgical technologists' CST certifications have not expired.  Ensuring current CST certification from the NBSTSA also helps meet accreditation and Medicare standards.

    As for the six states with additional requirements, Colorado, North Dakota and Washington also require registration of surgical technologists such as through the Department of Health or Department of Regulatory Agencies.  Indiana, New Jersey and New York have educational and certification requirements and also require 15 hours of continuing education per year. For more detailed information, please visit the AST Map of State Laws in the Public Policy section of the AST website.


    Legislative Position

    As determined by the House of Delegates, it is the position of the Association of Surgical Technologists that surgical technologists are an important part of the surgical team, and that patients are best served when all members of the team are appropriately educated and work in concert for positive patient outcomes. AST affirms that every surgical patient deserves a surgical technologist who is a graduate of an accredited program in surgical technology and who holds and maintains the Certified Surgical Technologist credential administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

    AST believes every patient deserves a surgical technologist who has attended a post-secondary surgical technology educational program to earn a certificate or Associate's Degree and certification as a Certified Surgical Technologist.

    Legislative Overview  

    AST advocates before state legislatures for the passage of an "Entry to Practice" law that:

    • Requires any newly hired surgical technologist to be a graduate of a nationally accredited surgical technology program and hold and maintain the Certified Surgical Technologist credential administered by the NBSTSA.
    • Requires hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities to hire only surgical technologists qualified as above;
    • Grandfathers anyone currently working as a surgical technologist in a health care facility on the effective date of the bill to continue being employed as a surgical technologist;
    • Exempts from certification requirements those persons who have completed an appropriate training program for surgical technologists in the US Armed Forces, or who are federal employees; and
    • Requires all surgical technologists to either maintain certification, or (where grandfathered or military trained) to complete 15 hours of continuing education annually.

    This credentialing bill does not create a complicated state licensing structure for surgical technologists. It is entry-to-practice minimum competency legislation only.

    Certified Surgical Technologists = Patient Safety

    • Surgical technologists are an integral member of the surgical team.
    • Surgical technologists are responsible for the sterile field, aiming to promote surgical patient safety and prevent surgical site infections.
    • Certified surgical technologists have vast knowledge of anatomy and pathophysiology and their relationship to the surgical patient and procedure.
    • Every minute a patient in under anesthesia, the risk of a procedure increases. Certified surgical technologists' ability to anticipate the sequential order of surgical procedures and the needs of surgeons contributes to successful surgical outcomes. 
    • Patients assume that all personnel caring for them are properly educated and have appropriate clinical experience; however, surgical technologists remain the only members of the surgical team who are not required to meet threshold educational and certification criteria in order to practice in their area of expertise.
      • Passage of a surgical technologist credentialing bill will obviate this alarming disparity and ensure that all personnel caring for patients undergoing surgery are appropriately educated.