The NBSTSA Candidate Confidentiality & Disclosure Policy
The National Board of Surgical Technology & Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) recognizes the importance of candidate/certificant confidentiality, as well as the importance of the security from public disclosure of data as it relates to the status of certification and/or recertification of surgical technologists and/or surgical first assistants. The NBSTSA requires that its procedures be sensitive to the need to maintain candidate information confidentiality in the certification process while also disclosing certain information to serve and protect the public interest. Examination candidates and certificants should be aware that the NBSTSA may release credentialed status to agencies such as those which regulate the practice of surgical technology, a certificant’s current/potential employer, surgical education programs attended by candidates/certificants, NBSTSA recognized programmatic accreditation agencies and NBSTSA contracted vendors involved in the process of certification. NBSTSA CST/CSFA certificants may also have their names and credentials listed in various NBSTSA publications from time to time such as when the NBSTSA is congratulating new certificants, etc.
The NBSTSA has an online credential verification system at nbstsa.org, through which any person in possession of a certificate number or social security number and name can gain access to certification status. While the NBSTSA does not provide social security numbers or other personally identifiable information to third parties, third parties such as employers and potential employers who already have this information may utilize the information to verify an individual’s credential status. The information available through the verification system is limited to provide a certificant’s certification number and cycle start and expiration dates only.
Exceptions to the NBSTSA Candidate Confidentiality & Disclosure Policy may be made and the aforementioned requirements may be waived for any information or documentation the NBSTSA is required to disclose relative to a bona fide judicial or governmental process.
NBSTSA Policy for Candidate Information Security
Examination security and confidentiality of all examination materials and data are of utmost concern during every phase of development administration and storage. The testing center strictly enforces examination security.
The testing company maintains an item bank for the NBSTSA that is secure and is maintained within their database with indefinite retention. In addition, candidate data and pass/fail statistics are also maintained in their database.
Internally, the following records are maintained as a paper file and are also stored electronically within the NBSTSA database:
- Proof of graduation from a properly accredited surgical technology program
- Copy of payment
The most advanced information technology security measures are in place to prevent undue access to candidate records, both internally and within the testing company database.
If a potential employer requests proof of certification for a practitioner, and the NBSTSA does not find such proof either internally or within the database of the testing company, then the practitioner is asked to provide the certificate issued for certification and the number issued along with the certificate. This policy is in place to prevent the proliferation of fraudulent credentials and to protect the patient.
NBSTSA Policy for Late Renewal
The NBSTSA believes that renewal for certification should be through professional development, as acquired through continuing education credits, rather than by entry-level examination. Professional development allows the practitioner to keep abreast of the rapidly changing technologies necessary for intraoperative practice, strengthening the quality of the credential and increasing patient safety through better overall preparedness.
It should be noted that if credits were not completed (meaning that the correct amount were not earned within the renewal cycle) then the policy does not apply, and the certification examination must be taken for renewal.
2021 Temporary COVID-19 Late Renewal Policy (effective through 06/30/2022).
An individual whose certification has lapsed will be able to renew within 180 days (usually 90 days) of the expiration of their certification date upon satisfying the renewal requirements. The usual $75 late fee will be waived.
IMPORTANT: Individuals whose certification has lapsed and who renew within the 180 day late policy will keep their certification number and will be issued a new certification certification expiration date, as though they had renewed on-time. The continuing education credits must have been completed while the individual was certified (within their certification cycle), and the renewal application with fee and penalty fee must be received within 90-days of the original expiration for this rule to apply.
After 180 days (six months), the applicant must retake the certification examination and pay the fee for renewal by examination, which is $399 for current AST members or $499 for non-members. NBSTSA does not take postmarked dates into account; we go by the date the application is received in our office.
Individuals have the right to appeal decisions made by the NBSTSA regarding their certification and/or eligibility for certification and/or recertification. Pass/fail examination scores are not appealable to the Board of Directors and is addressed under the complaint policy.
- An individual submits a written appeal by mail to the NBSTSA Board of Directors with current correspondence associated with the appeal (i.e. examination denial notification) and supporting documentation (i.e. letters of recommendation, proof of graduation) with $100.00 non-refundable fee.
- Appeals are heard by the NBSTSA Board of Directors at the scheduled spring & fall meetings.
- Candidates will be notified by the NBSTSA office of the final decision from the Board of Directors. Once a decision has been made by the NBSTSA Board of Directors, there is no further appeal process.
Complaints to the NBSTSA about NBSTSA certification programs may come from applicants, examinees, certificants, and NBSTSA recognized surgical technology and surgical assisting program faculty.
- Complaints to the NBSTSA which do not fall within the parameters of the NBSTSA Disciplinary Policy shall be processed and determined in accordance with this Policy.
- To be processed within this Policy, a complaint must relate directly to NBSTSA certification program policies and procedures, and may include, but is not limited to, issues regarding: testing administration center, expired authorization to test period, re-test authorization period, candidate handbook information and other NBSTSA publications. No other complaints will be considered by the NBSTSA.
- A complaint must be in writing addressed to the Director of Operations of the NBSTSA, be signed by the complainant(s), and be submitted to the NBSTSA no more than thirty (30) days from the date of the incident which is the subject of the alleged concern. Unsigned complaints will be returned to the complainant(s). Acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint will be provided to the complainant(s).
- Within thirty (30) days from receipt of the complaint, it will be investigated and addressed by NBSTSA staff designated by the NBSTSA Chief Executive Officer. Once a complaint has been investigated and addressed, the outcome will be communicated by the NBSTSA to the complainant(s) in writing, and the complaint is final and will be considered closed. The resolution of the complaint is not appealable to the NBSTSA Board of Directors.
- Names of the complaintant(s) will be held in confidence by the NBSTSA, unless written permission is granted by the complainant(s) to reveal their name(s). This requirement shall be waived in the event the NBSTSA is required to provide any information or documentation as determined by a bona fide judicial or governmental process.
Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) Eligibility Policy
Candidates may establish eligibility to take the CSFA examination under the following.
Candidate is a current or previously certified CSFA renewing by examination (must provide evidence of NBSTSA certification).
Candidate is a graduate from a NBSTSA recognized surgical first assisting program that has had accreditation revoked, rescinded, or failed to renew accreditation. Candidates are eligible to take the CSFA examination if the candidate was actively enrolled or graduated from the program at anytime it held the appropriate accreditation.
Candidate is a graduate from a surgical first assisting program undergoing accreditation. Candidate is eligible to take the CSFA examination as long as they were actively enrolled when the accreditation site visit occurred and are subsequently eligible upon the official granting of accreditation.
Individuals that successfully renew have the option to print a CSFA certificate in addition to their CST/CSFA certificate.
Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Eligibility Policy
Candidates may establish eligibility to take the CST examination under the following conditions:
- Candidate is a graduate from a NBSTSA recognized surgical technology program. Candidates applying under this eligibility are required to submit one of the following: official notarized letter (on institutional letterhead) from the program director, graduation certificate or official transcripts. Official transcripts received by the NBSTSA must be in an envelope sealed by the issuing institution.
- Candidate is a current or previously certified as a CST, and is renewing by examination. (must provide evidence of NBSTSA certification).
- Candidate is a graduate from a NBSTSA recognized surgical technology program that has had accreditation revoked, rescinded, or failed to renew accreditation. Candidates are eligible to take the CST examination if the candidate was actively enrolled or graduated from the program at anytime it held the appropriate accreditation.
- Candidate is a graduate from a surgical technology undergoing accreditation. Candidate is eligible to take the CST examination as long as they were actively enrolled when the accreditation site visit occurred and are subsequently eligible upon the official granting of accreditation.
- Candidate who has successfully completed a military training program in surgical technology. Required documentation to establish eligibility includes a DD214 demonstrating graduation from a military training program and/ or a graduation certificate.
The CST examination authorization to test time limit is six months. Candidates may not test more than three times during any calendar year. Candidates are required to pay the total testing fee (processing and examination) each time to test.
Use of Trademark
Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)® and Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA)® are registered trademarks of The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and may only be used by individuals who have taken and passed the national certification examination and hold a valid certification issued by NBSTSA. No other usage of these trademarks may occur without the expressed written approval of the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.
Denial/Revocation of Certification Policy
NBSTSA may consider revocation or denial of certification. Examples of the activities that may cause revocation or denial of certification include, but are not limited to the following:
- Possession, use, or attempt to use altered or falsified certification cards or certificates;
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain certification or recertification by fraud or deception;
- Knowingly assisting another to obtain or attempt to obtain certification or recertification by fraud or deception;
- Unauthorized possession or distribution of examination materials including reproduction of examination questions;
- Violation of examination rules, including but not limited to cheating on the examination.
NBSTSA retains the sole authority to amend or repeal its policies regarding denial or revocation of certification at any time including, but not limited to, the authority to add new grounds for denial or revocation and add provisions for suspension of certification.
NBSTSA has a disciplinary policy (5.1) in place for use in cases where certified or non-certified individuals have obtained or attempted to obtain certification by fraud or deception, have used falsified credentials, or have commited offenses directly related to the practice of surgical technology or surgical first assisting which give cause to question the individual's ability to practice in a safe and competent manner.
Details, along with procedures and processes are contained in the Disciplinary Policy, downloadable on this page.
Nondiscrimination and Fairness
NBSTSA accepts all properly completed examination applications from eligible applicants regardless of the applicant’s age, sex, race, religion, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. NBSTSA strives for fairness, providing each test candidate with an examination of the same difficulty level, using the same methodology, utilizing accomodations when appropriate, and providing each candidate with all necessary information with regard to eligibility, application, and the testing process.
It is our goal to provide all the essential information for applicants before the test, to provide a test environment and procedures conducive to good performance during the test, and providing timely and accurate scoring and reporting after the test. Key to the fairness of our examination process is the utilization of sound, accepted psychometric practices to ensure that each candidate has a fair opportunity for success on our examination.