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  • Legislative News 

    Georgia State Assembly Members Present to Georgia Senate Rural Medical Personnel Recruitment Study Committee

    Atlanta, GA - November 8, 2023- Nicol Bates, CST, FAST presented to the Georgia Senate Rural Medical Personnel Recruitment Study Committee about the importance of accredited education and certification for patient safety, workforce retention, and surgical team morale. Nicol gave specific examples of surgical technologists' role in patient safety, the reasons for accredited education and certification, and how the State of Georgia can support the rural surgical technologist workforce. She urged apprenticeships be done in collaboration with CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited programs. A copy of her presentation is available here.

    Oregon Senate Bill 2697 creates Hospital Staffing Plans – Creates Professional and Technical Staffing Committees

    Salem, OR  – August 1, 2023- Governor Kotek signed Senate Bill 2697 (SB 2697) on August 1, 2023 and became effective September 1, 2023.  SB 2697 amended the Hospital Staffing Plan statute by requiring hospitals to establish “a hospital professional and technical staffing committee” (page 2, section 3) by December 31, 2024. The committee shall consist of “an equal number of hospital professional and technical managers and professional and technical staff who work at the hospital.” (page 2, section 3) Professional and technical staff are defined as professional or technical workers defined by a bargaining agreement or the hospital CEO. (page 2, subsections (11 & 15)

    Depending on the hospital, surgical technologists may be deemed professional or technical staff. Either way, this might be a good way to become involved in the workforce shortage conversation at your hospital. Once formed, the committees will develop a staffing plan with the goal of ensuring the hospital is “staffed sufficiently to meet the health care needs of the patients.” (page 2, section 3(c)(2)). The professional and technical staffing committee must meet three times each year (page 4, subsection (7)). As such, it may not be time consuming.

    Becoming involved in staffing conversations might provide an opportunity for CSTs to educate the hospital about working with accredited surgical technology programs. Hospitals can enhance their surgical technology workforce by offering ample clinical placements to accredited programs, working with accredited surgical technology programs to develop apprenticeships, helping the programs to fill their cohorts, support the development of new accredited surgical technology programs, directing any available foundation funding to surgical technology scholarships for accredited programs and working collaboratively with the surgical technology community to seek federal, state and private funding for accredited surgical technology programs and the students enrolled in those programs.

    This is an opportunity for surgical technologists to engage with your hospital to address workforce issues. For more information, please visit or contact the government relations staff at [email protected]

    Association of Surgical Technologists Supports Massachusetts Surgical Assistant Licensure Legislation

    Boston, MA- September 21, 2023- Surgical assistant licensure legislation had a hearing before the Massachusetts Joint Public Health Committee. The Association of Surgical Technologists supports H. 2152 and S. 1387 because AST strongly supports licensure of surgical assistants who have graduated from CAAHEP-accredited surgical assistant programs and earn certification in alignment with this legislation. AST supports the legislation for many reasons. H. 2152 and S. 1387 addresses the workforce shortage for surgical assistants by clarifying that current Massachusetts law allows the practice of surgical assistants in the operating room. Surgical assistants directly manipulate tissue in the operating room and perform high-level surgical patient care with high stakes for patient safety and surgical patient outcomes. The legislation aligns with other states’ surgical assistant licensure laws. The legislation defines surgical assistants and sets minimum educational and certification standards for surgical assistants in alignment with national standards set by national surgical professional organizations. Surgical assistants perform identical tasks as physicians who first assist in surgery, registered nurse first assistants, and surgical physician assistants and deserve to be licensed similarly.

    National Surgical Technologist Week Proclamations Signed Nationwide

    Nationwide- September 2023- State assembly members led the charge to persuade Governors to sign proclamations recognizing surgical technologists in Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Great job promoting the profession!

    AST and OR-AST Meet with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to Discuss the Importance of High-quality Education for Surgical Technologists

    Salem, OR- August 2023- In 2022, AST fought hard to ensure the Oregon Health Authority rules had high educational standards to ensure apprenticeship education protects public health and safety. AST also fought successfully to ensure Oregon apprenticeship education follows AST Core Curriculum 7th edition. In spring of 2023, AST also fought to ensure high educational standards remained in the Oregon law. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) will be overseeing Oregon apprenticeships. Oregon AST leadership and AST Government Affairs staff met with BOLI staff to review the history of the Oregon law and surgical technologists' vital role in patient safety. The presentation is available here.

    AST Ensures Continuation of “The Registered Surgical Assistant and Registered Surgical Technologist Registration and Title Protection Act”            

    Springfield, IL – July 28, 2023 - Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1716 (SB 1716) on July 28, 2023, which was then the date the bill was enacted. SB 1716 was a sunset bill for the Surgical Technologist and Surgical Assistant Registration Act in Illinois. The act was extended to January 1, 2029 with some slight modifications.

    SB 1716 cleaned up some of the “his/her” language and changed it to “the person.” This is a cosmetic change and doesn’t have a substantive impact on surgical technologists.

    Definitions were modified to add email addresses. Email addresses are the email address in the surgical technologists application for registration or the registrant’s file. In addition, Registrants are now required to provide their mailing address and their email address and inform the Department of any change in either their address or email address within 14 days of the modification.

    One of the certifying agencies needed to obtain registration was modified to “National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants” rather than the previous language “National Surgical Assistants Association.” NBSTSA remains another method to prove certification. 

    AST Successfully Sets Standards in Law for Apprenticeship Education

    Salem, Oregon – July 27, 2023 - To address workforce issues, hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) sought legislation in 2020 to create apprenticeships as an alternative pathway to accredited education and certification. The legislation failed in 2020 and AST defeated this legislation against hospitals and ASCs in 2021. However, it passed in 2022 despite AST’s vigorous opposition. The legislation was supported by the BOLI Commissioner, now Congresswoman Val Hoyle, and every hospital and ASC in Oregon. In 2022, AST successfully fought for rules that ensure apprentices cannot be used as employees and that apprenticeships must follow AST’s Core Curriculum 7th edition. In 2023, AST successfully fought for the law to require apprenticeships to have a state-approved educational component. This ensures the AST Core Curriculum requirement has the legal authority to remain in the rules.

    AST Successfully Passes Surgical Patient Safety Law in Connecticut

    Hartford, Connecticut- June 30, 2023- AST passed Connecticut patient safety legislation setting new standards for surgical technologists. This was a multi-year effort by AST. This year, AST legislation passed the Joint Health Committee in April, passed through the House and Senate in May and June, and was just signed by Governor Lamont.

    AST’s legislative mission is to promote patient safety and professional standards by advocating before state legislatures for policies that advance the quality of surgical patient care. AST chose Connecticut based on many strategic factors. AST was successful in Connecticut because AST made noise with the right people with the right messages at the right time. AST was persistent, determined, and strategic.

    The Connecticut State Assembly of AST will work to educate healthcare facilities about the new law.

    Oregon Surgical Technologists and Students Testify at Oregon Legislative Hearing

    Salem, Oregon- March 27, 2023- Oregon Certified Surgical Technologists, Oregon surgical technology program directors, and surgical technology students testified before the Oregon House Behavioral Health and Health Committee. These Oregon CSTs and students responded to the AST call to action, checked their emails, attended last minute meetings, practiced their testimony, and waiting for hours for their turn. One surgical technology student even cancelled on a birthday dinner to show up. It well worth it, the Chairman of the Committee ended up asking her a very important question at the hearing. The surgical technologists and students were brief, calm, respectful and carried a clear message. Courtesy and brevity (90 seconds!) won the respect of the legislators and taught legislators about surgical technologists role in patient safety and the importance of accredited education. Also, this year, no out-of-state surgical technologists testified, which also helped the cause. Thank you to Rachel Bruce, OR-AST President, CST, Angie Hansen, CST, Sonia Lopez, CST, Leia Amorelli, surgical technology student, and Shayna Bryson, surgical technology student, for testifying. They were attentive, responsible, patient and made sacrifices to help the profession of surgical technology in Oregon. Also, thank you to Ron Kruzel of ARCSTSA for sharing his knowledge of accreditation with the committee. 

    Massachusetts Introduces Surgical Assistant Legislation

    Boston, MA- January 20, 2023- Massachusetts has introduced surgical assistant legislation in the House and the Senate; HD 951 and SD 1928. Similar legislation was introduced in the 2021-2022 Massachusetts Session. The legislation passed through the House and made it to the Senate Ways and Means Committee before adjournment. The legislation recognizes a current credential as a surgical assistant or surgical first assistant issued by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Surgical Assistant Association, or the National Commission for Certification of Surgical Assistants. It has a grandfathering provision for people with at least one year of experience as a surgical assistant in the Commonwealth and who have practiced as a surgical assistant at any time in the twelve months immediately before July 1, 2023, provided the applicant registers with the Board by July 1, 2025.
    Rhode Island Introduces Surgical Assistant Legislation

    Providence, RI- January 6, 2023- Rhode Island introduces H 5014 to license surgical assistants who hold a current credential as a surgical assistant or surgical first assistant issued by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Surgical Assistant Association, or the National Commission for Certification of Surgical Assistants, or have one year of experience in Rhode Island as a surgical assistant.

    Virginia CST Certification Law

    Richmond, VA- February 2021 – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law HB2220 (Hayes), which requires surgical technologists who hold themselves out as a “surgical technologist” or “certified surgical technologist” or use any variation of credentials to complete an accredited education program and hold a certified surgical technologist credential from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Surgical technologists serve as the surgeon's co-pilot and provide surgical instruments and supplies to the surgeon during surgery. They have primary responsibility for maintaining the sterile surgical field and ensuring the surgical team adheres to aseptic and sterile technique. During the Covid-19 pandemic, surgical technologists also have been utilized for training other hospital healthcare providers in those patient care procedures. 

     The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) has long been an outspoken advocate of the certification of surgical technologists.

     "Patients undergoing surgeries in healthcare facilities in Virginia will be safer due to new legislation requiring surgical technologists to graduate from an accredited program and maintain certification.  As integral surgical team members, our patients and surgeons depend on us to adhere to the principles of asepsis to decrease the chance of surgical site infections.  We are expected to think on our feet and stay a step ahead of the surgeon by anticipating what is needed before being asked because every minute a patient is in surgery increases the risk for complications associated with anesthesia and blood loss. This legislation is a win for patients across Virginia as it will promote positive patient outcomes during surgery,” said Holly Falcon, CST, FAST, President of AST. 

     “I applaud Representative Hayes for his tireless effort to get this bill passed,” said Josephine M. Colacci, Esq., Director of Government Affairs for AST.  Colacci continued, “Certification of surgical technologists will help drive positive patient outcomes and help to reduce healthcare costs overall.”

    Virginia surgical technologists are encouraged to become certified with the Virginia Board of Medicine once enrollment becomes available.

    Pennsylvania Governor Signs Patient Safety Bill Into Law

    Harrisburg, PA – October 29, 2020 – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law HB81(Kauffman), which requires surgical technologists to complete an accredited education program, pass an accredited surgical technologist exam, and maintain continuing education. Surgical technologists serve as the surgeon's co-pilot and provide surgical instruments and supplies to the surgeon during surgery. They have primary responsibility for maintaining the sterile surgical field and ensuring the surgical team adheres to aseptic and sterile technique. During the Covid-19 pandemic, surgical technologists also have been utilized for training other hospital healthcare providers in those patient care procedures.

    Read the complete statement.

    Virginia Surgical Assistants Now Licensed in Virginia

    Richmond, VA- July 1, 2020- The Virginia legislature passed a licensure law for surgical assistants. The law upgrades the registration into a complete licensure structure governed by the Virginia Board of Medicine. Licensure qualifications are based on certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants. The law also establishes the Advisory Board of Surgical Assisting. View the law here.