Susan Klacik BS, CRCST, CHL, CIS, FCS
Having central sterilization certification results in a win-win-win situation for the CS Tech, healthcare facility, and the patient.
First, for the CSS Tech, CSS certification demonstrates that the tech has the commitment to this profession and the skill and knowledge required to process medical devices. Having this educational foundation is the first step on a career ladder in a central sterile processing department. This foundation is built upon understanding basic microbiology, terminology, anatomy, decontamination, packaging, disinfection/sterilization, storage and inventory.
Once having aquired the distinction of CRCST, there are two secondary certifications – the Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS), which demonstrates expertise of instrumentation, and Certified Health Leadership (CHL), which focuses on leadership skills. Having all three certifications, also known as Triple Crown, allows CSS Techs to increase their knowledge base and make themselves more marketable within the industry.
The importance of CSS Techs having certification can be easily seen by the vast number of job descriptions that list certification as a requirement. Some healthcare facilities require certification before being employed while others require certification within a certain time frame after the date of hire, such as a year. Career ladders in a CSS role initially require certification which may progress to a lead tech position and eventually to a supervisor or manager position.
Moreover, certified CSS Techs can take a lead role in a department process improvement committee either within the CSS department or on an organizational committee. A Certified CSS tech may be a peer mentor for new or existing technicians or conduct competency checks.
When looking for a position in another healthcare facility, having certification places the applicant in a more advantageous position. Certified CSS techs aren’t limited to healthcare facilities. The demand for certified CSS techs is so great that there are even traveling tech positions with attractive compensation packages. Also, medical device manufacturers and vendors have positions they prefer to be filled by certified CSS Techs.
For the CSS tech, having certification enhances self-esteem and respect as a professional. Through the certification course, individuals learn medical vocabulary that enhances their communication with nursing staff. Furthermore, the requirement for continuing education encourages the CSS tech to constantly learn new and better processing methods.
Obtaining certification also allows for opportunities outside of the healthcare facility such as those within the local CSS chapter, educational board, chapter goverence, or even a manufacturing plant. Being involved in the local CSS Chapter also promotes networking by allowing for an opportunity to meet and interact with other CSS Techs.
Second, the win for the healthcare facility is that knowledgeable and skilled CSS Techs process medical devices that are safe for patient care. Proving that the CSS staff has certification is looked upon favorably during accreditation surveys. A knowledgeable and certified staff processes medical devices in a manner that assures safety for patient use while reducing the number of breakage incidents. Certified CSS Techs understand best practices so they are able to assure sterilization is complete, quality monitoring is performed, and that the ever-important documentation is achieved. A certified CSS Tech knows the standards and regulations surrounding sterilization practices and can identify a break in best practice.
Finally, the patient win is that the medical devices will be functional, available when needed, and be disinfected or sterilized as required. Having safe and effective medical devices reduces the chance for infection and promotes safe patient care.
Thurmond, Tony, You’ve Just Become CRCST Certified – Now What? , Technician’s Exchange, Communiqué NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016