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NBSTSA Announces Phase-In of Two-Year Certification Cycle In 2020
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting announces that effective January 1, 2020, the phase-in of a two-year certification renewal cycle requirement for both the Certified Surgical Technologist® and the Certified Surgical First Assistant® will begin.
Phase-In – How It Works
For those currently certified, you don't need to do anything now or until your renewal date, except work on earning the usual 60 credits for the CST credential or 75 for the CSFA credential. Then, on your next renewal date, you will be renewed on a new, two year cycle, with 1/2 the continuing education requirement and at 1/2 of the renewal fee. For example, if your certification is now set to expire in June of 2022, you simply renew then and you will be renewed from 2022 to 2024.
The current certification policy requires the following:
- Certified Surgical Technologist – completion of 60 continuing education credits and renewal every fourth year.
- Certified Surgical First Assistant – completion of 75 continuing education credits and renewal every fourth year.
- Renewal requires the filing of a certification renewal application and payment of a $50 fee to the NBSTSA.
For those who are currently in a 4-year certification cycle, nothing will change for you until your current certification expiration date. When you do renew your CST or CSFA credential, your next certification will be valid for two years, and will need to be renewed at the end of that two-years. Any new or renewing CST or CSFA after 1/1/2020 will be certified for two years and will need to renew at the end of the two years.
Important: When renewing your current certification, you will be required to submit the usual 60 credits for the CST credential or 75 for the CSFA credential. After you are placed on the two-year cycle, the requirements will change to those below.
What Changes - New Certification Requirements – Only For New or Renewing CST or CSFA on or After January 1, 2020
The new certification policy for new and renewing CSTs and CSFAs after 1/1/2020 will be:
- Certified Surgical Technologist – completion of 30 continuing education credits and renewal every two years.
- Certified Surgical First Assistant – Completion of 38 continuing education credits and renewal every two years.
- The continuing education requirements on the two-year cycle will include a small number of advanced level/live continuing education credits. More information on this will be developed and available during 2019.
Remember: If you are currently certified, the required continuing education credits will be 60 for the CST or 75 for the CSFA to renew your certification until the end of your first two-year cycle (the first time you renew after January 1, 2020. From that point, you will be required to complete and submit to AST 30 credits for the CST or 38 credits for the CSFA in order to be eligible to renew at the end of your first two-year cycle.
Anyone that renews prior to January 1, 2020 will be renewing on a new four-year cycle. At the end of that cycle, they will be renewed under the new two-year cycle.
Reminder: You need not do anything special before your current certification expires (although we encourage you to earn the continuing education credits and apply with your renewal form early to allow for processing time). Just renew the next time you are due to renew, and we take care of the rest. After that, you'll be on a two-year cycle with 1/2 the required credits, and 1/2 the required fee.
As always renewing your credential is a two-step process:
In order to renew your certification you must do two things:
- Submit required CE credits to AST. and also
- Submit the appropriate renewal form to the NBSTSA with the renewal fee.
CST or CSFA credential holders also have the option to renew by re-taking the CST or CSFA examination.
Will the fees change?
The NBSTSA renewal fee will be cut in half, to $25. The current certification renewal fee for either certification is $50. On the two-year cycle, the renewal fee will be $25.
For those that wish to renew their certification by retesting, the fees will remain the same for 2020, $399 for AST members, and $499 for non-AST members.
My certification expires before January 1, 2020, what happens to me?
If you recertify prior to 1/1/2020, you will be renewing on a four-year cycle. Example: If a CST renews on 12/1/2019, they will be renewed for four-years, with an expiration date of 12/1/2023. Upon renewing on 12/1/2023, that person would be placed on a two-year renewal cycle with an expiration date of 12/1/2025.
What do I need to do?
All any current CST or CSFA needs to do is remember to renew your certification before the expiration of your current certification. Submit the required CE credits to the Association of Surgical Technologists with time for them to process (www.ast.org) , and submit the appropriate renewal form to NBSTSA along with the renewal fee, on time to avoid late fees or the need for rush processing fees.
New Late Renewal Policy Effective May 2, 2018
Details of NBSTSA’s new late fee policy are available here.
Importance of Renewal
Commitment to professional development, continuing education and ongoing credentialing is a hallmark of professional practice. The decision to renew a CST or CSFA credential is an important component in delivering the best care possible for the surgical patient. The credentialed surgical technologist or surgical first assistant is a valuable contributing member of the surgical team. The NBSTSA commends all Certified Surgical Technologists (CSTs) and Certified Surgical First Assistants (CSFAs) for their ongoing commitment to the renewal of their professional credentials.
- Rapid changes in the operative arena necessitate ongoing and frequent assessment of continuing competence of the surgical technologist and surgical first assistant.
- Similar to standards established in comparable medical/nursing/allied health professions, the NBSTSA has determined that a four year re-certification cycle is appropriate in the assessment of continuing competence of the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) and Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA).
- Effective January 1, 2009 all candidates successfully acquiring certification as a surgical technologist or surgical first assistant through the NBSTSA will be required to demonstrate continuing competence and credential renewal via a four year re-certification cycle.
- Continuing competence and credential renewal for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) or Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) may be accomplished via submission of continuing education credits or re-examination.
The NBSTSA requires certification renewal every four years. The date certification expires is printed clearly on your card and certificate.
Individuals can use the following methods to renew certification:
- Earn and submit required continuing education credits within the renewal cycle to AST and submit a renewal application to the NBSTSA.
- Retake and pass the national certifying examination through the NBSTSA.
Individuals renewing certification may submit a renewal application up to 6 months before their expiration date. Upon satisfying renewal requirements, the NBSTSA renews certification for the individual and issues a new certification card and certificate.
NBSTSA encourages you to complete the required continuing education credits, submit them to the Association of Surgical Technologists, and then file your renewal application with NBSTSA early. This helps insure continuous, uninterrupted certification.
However, It is important to note that the certification cycle does not change based on the date paperwork is submitted. For example, an individual with a July renewal date that submits the paperwork in February for the July renewal date will receive a renewed certification card and certificate with a July date. In that case, continuing education credits earned between January and May would count on the old certification cycle, not the new cycle. There is no rollover of continuing education credits from one cycle to another.
Renewal by Continuing Education Credits
CSTs must earn 60 credits within their renewal cycle to renew their credential. CSFAs must earn 75 credits within their renewal cycle to renew their credential. Individuals who hold both credentials (CST/CSFAs) must earn 75 credits within their renewal cycle to renew both credentials. Only a CSFA Renewal Application must be submitted to renew both.
Information about acceptable continuing education credits is available a the Association of Surgical Technologists web site.
Renewing your credential is a two-step process:
- Submit required CE credits to AST
- Submit the appropriate renewal form to the NBSTSA with the renewal fee. If you have any questions about the renewal application, please contact us at 800-707-0057. For questions about continuing education credits, please call AST at 800-637-7433 or www.ast.org.
The responsibility is yours to mail your renewal application in a timely manner, especially if you are required by your employer and/or state law to be certified. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for the NBSTSA to process your application and mail your new certificate and card. You may choose to add rush processing for your application for an additional $50 charge. Rush processing is a guaranteed 3 to 5 business days in the office before we mail your new documents. If you pay the total fee by credit/debit Visa or MasterCard or a money order, your documents will be mailed immediately. If you pay the total fee by check, your documents will be held for mailing for 10 business days until your check has officially cleared through our bank. You may elect rush processing for your application; however, NBSTSA will not honor requests to e-mail or fax notification to employers that an application was received for processing. We cannot give information to a 3rd party regarding unprocessed applications. If you need to prove to an employer that you submitted your application and have the required credits on file, you may call the NBSTSA on speakerphone so your employer can hear us confirm receipt of your application. As soon as your renewal has been processed in the database, it can be verified under the Verify Credentials section of this website or your employer can call us at 800-707-0057.
Fees for Renewal by Examination
- $399 Current AST/ASA Members
- $499 Non-members
Individuals renewing their credential beyond the expiration date (late renewal) may do so by one of the following methods:
- Retake and pass the national certifying examination and pay all appropriate fees.
- Submit required credits (must have been completed prior to expiration) and pay all appropriate late fees (see our policy for late renewal).
IMPORTANT: Note that if continuing education credit requirements were not met (meaning that the correct amount of hours were not earned within the renewal cycle), the policy does not apply and the certification examination would have to be taken for renewal.
Pre-1977 CST Certifications
The NBSTSA started utilizing certification cycle dates on September 1, 1977, meaning anyone who was certified prior to that date is considered "certified for life" and is considered "noncurrent". Those certified before September 1, 1977 have the option to become "current" if they wish. To become "current", pre-1977 CST certified candidates must either pass the current CST examination or earn 60 continuing education credits. The continuing education credits must be earned within four years prior to when the application is received. All first-time currency earners must submit the Initial Application for Currency Pre-1977 Certification. A new certificate and card are issued when currency is earned. Maintaining currency is voluntary. To maintain currency, a renewal application must be completed before the current cycle expires. The cycle period is every 4 years. If earning credits, the credits must meet the criteria of the "AST Continuing Education Policies for the CST & CSFA" and be submitted to AST for processing. Best practice is to become an AST member prior to earning credits to avoid a processing fee. When currency lapses, the individual returns to "certified for life but not current" status. If there is a lapse in currency, the pre-1977 certified candidate must earn currency by taking and passing the examination. Pre-1977 CSTs who wish to sit for the CSFA Exam using the CST with Currency Experience Verification pathway must earn currency first.