Obstetric certified nursing technicians, more commonly shortened to obstetric or OB technicians, are the people who support doctors during childbirth and make sure delivery rooms are prepared before the mother arrives. To be certified as an OB technician, you need to pass a training program or gain some experience and pass a certification exam.
Obstetric certified nursing technicians spend most of their shifts -- which can be no longer than eight hours -- on their feet. They need to be able to lift patients onto gurneys, beds or operating tables with or without help from other medical staff. This makes physical stamina and strength important for doing their duties effectively. OB techs also need the manual dexterity to handle small, potentially delicate instruments and the ability to work and take instruction under pressure in a fast-paced, stressful delivery or operating room environment. In addition, OB techs must be organized and detail-oriented to prevent surgical tools or delivery rooms from going unsterilized or uncleaned, which can lead to serious problems for patients.
Delivery Room Duties
Obstetric technicians are in charge of making sure that delivery and operating rooms are clean and sterile before doctors and expectant mothers arrive. They sterilize the surgical instruments, help clean the rooms and stock supplies like gauze and hypodermic needles. OB techs are scrubbed members of the surgical team, which means they need to clean themselves before entering delivery rooms and maintain a sterile environment. During deliveries or Caesarean sections, they assist doctors by handing them surgical tools and supplies. Many hospitals require OB techs to have certification in basic life support, so they might need to perform basic medical techniques like CPR.
Duties Outside the Delivery Room
When OB techs aren't helping doctors deliver babies, they are helping patients and doing basic clerical duties. These clerical duties usually include ordering supplies for delivery and operating rooms, maintaining logs, pulling up patient information on computers, doing inventory and supporting the administrative and clerical staff as needed. OB techs help patients get ready for surgery by cleaning and transporting them to operating rooms or helping them out of the hospital when they are discharged. They might also help with postnatal tasks like preparing birth certificates.
Certification and Background
There are no certifications specifically for OB techs, so most certified OB techs have a surgical technologist certification. Two of the popular certifications come from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting and the National Center for Competency Testing. The NBST certification requires you to complete a training program and pass an exam. The NCCT certification also requires an exam, but you can substitute experience for formal training in certain cases. Hospitals usually require OB techs to have Basic Life Support certification from the American Heart Association, which you need to keep current throughout your career. You can get BLS certification by passing a course either online or in a classroom. OB techs also need to pass a surgical technology certificate or associate's degree program. Community and technical colleges around the country offer these programs, which last from a few months to two years.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Surgical Technologists
- National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting: CST Examinations
- National Center for Competency Testing
- Indeed: OB Scrub Tech
- Peace Health: OB Surgical Technologist
- St. Joseph Health: OB Technician II
- Mercy Hospital: OB Technician
- American Heart Association: Basic Life Support
Jon Gjerde worked as a journalist in northern California where he covered topics ranging from city, county and tribal governments to alternative transportation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Davis.