Certified Registered Central Service Technicians work in healthcare facilities to prepare, sterilize, install and inspect laboratory or medical equipment. A nationally recognized certification, the CRCST is offered by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) group and provides professionals with a pathway to advance their careers. In order to earn the certification, individuals must complete 400 hours of hands-on experience in a sterile processing department. They must also pass a certification exam and complete other requirements.
There are several educational tools to help individuals prepare for the CRCST exam, including classes and self-study materials. Many sterile processing technician programs also include training to prepare students for the certification exam. However, passing a course or taking the exam does not equate to certification.
Those preparing to take the CRCST certification exam are required to have 400 hours of hands-on experience in sterile processing departments. This can be completed before taking the exam or must be done within six months of passing the test. Those who have not yet earned the experience may do so by applying for a provisional certificate with IAHCSMM.
While applicants can earn their hands-on experience through paid or unpaid work, IAHCSMM strongly recommends that they begin to document their experience before the CRCST exam is taken. Hands-on experience helps individuals understand the standards, knowledge and practices needed to succeed in a sterile processing department and on the certification exam. The hands-on experience must be documented by the manager or supervisor of the sterile processing department in which the individual works.
The CRCST exam is computer based and there are 150 multiple choice questions that must be answered in three hours. A 15 minute tutorial describing how to use the test system and answer questions precedes the exam. The test is scored based on the number of correctly answered questions. Each question is worth one point and the pass score is a minimum of 70 percent. The exam is administered by Prometric Testing Centers.
In addition to working with a mentor to learn the necessary skills, preparing for the crcst certification includes studying and practicing with sample questions. The more practice a person does, the better they will do on the actual exam. Practicing the questions and answering them under timed conditions is the best way to ensure success.
After a successful passing of the CRCST exam, new CRCSTs receive a certification package in the mail within two weeks of taking the exam. Those who fail the exam will be provided with a report and information on retesting. Retests must be scheduled through IAHCSMM and are subject to a $100 retest fee. Individuals can retest as often as they wish but must wait at least six weeks between attempts. The retest fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.