• Legislative Goal

    The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) believes everyone involved in direct surgical patient care should be fully competent. Despite their critical role during surgeries, however, surgical technologists are the only member of a surgical team who is not required to meet minimum professional standards. Therefore, AST’s legislative goal is to ensure that all patients in all operating rooms will be in the most capable hands across all surgical team members. In the interest of patient safety, AST promotes a policy that would require healthcare facilities to employ only individuals who satisfy baseline educational and clinical competency requirements. 

  • Legislative Overview

    AST advocates to pass state laws that address competency by requiring that, in order to be hired to practice surgical technology, the candidate must: (1) graduate from a CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology program; (2) obtain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST®) credential from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA); and (3) maintain the CST® credential by completing mandatory continuing education (CE) hours. These requirements would apply to new-hires employed on or after the effective date of the law. Federal employees are exempt from the state law.

    In an effort to protect the existing surgical technology workforce, when a state passes the law, the legislation includes a “grandfather exception.” Generally speaking, the grandfather exception allows surgical technologists already employed as of a certain date (varies by state) prior to the law going into effect to continue working in their “pre-law” position without having to meet the same requirements as new-hires. The legislation also includes a “military exception,” which allows graduates of military surgical technology education programs to be hired as civilian techs, after the effective date of the law, without having to meet the same requirements as new-hires.

    BE AWARE: When a state passes this law, nothing in the law prevents an employer from requiring all of its surgical technologist employees (not just new-hires) to meet the full requirements of the law regardless of whether the employee fits into the “grandfathered” or “military” exceptions.

    Where the law goes into effect, EVERY surgical technologist (except federal) employed in that particular state is required to complete CEs, as detailed in the law, regardless of a tech’s certification status.

    State Law Overview

    The following states have passed law related to the education and certification of surgical technologists. For more information, click on the Map of State Laws (members only):

    • Indiana (2009)
    • Massachusetts (2012)
    • Nevada (2017)
    • New Jersey (2011)
    • New York (2015)
    • Oregon (2016)
    • South Carolina (2018)
    • Tennessee (2013)
    • Texas (2009)
    • Idaho (1991) - Idaho has an administrative rule requiring that surgical technologists (referred to as “operating room technicians” in the rule) either complete a CAAHEP-accredited program OR satisfy the NBSTSA requirements for CST/certification.

    The following states require surgical technologists to register in order to work in the state:

    • Colorado (2016) (CST not required for registration)
    • North Dakota (2011) (“Unlicensed Assistive Person” registry; CST not required for registration)
    • Washington (2010) (CST not required for registration)

    The following states offer optional registration/title protection for surgical technologists:

    • Arkansas (2017) (Must be a CST in order to qualify for the registry/title protection)
    • Illinois (2004) (Must be a CST in order to qualify for the registry/title protection)
    • Virginia (2014) (Must be a CST in order to qualify for the registry/title protection)