Sterile Processing Course Curriculum

Penn Foster’s online Sterile Processing course includes four sections that can help you prepare for a career as a sterile processing technician in a matter of months. Course topics include Allied Health Careers, Building of Sterile Processing, Sterile Processing Technology, and more.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To provide students with the knowledge and skills required for entry-level work as a sterile processing technician and to sit for the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) exam through the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM).

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...

  • Recognize the fundamental practices and procedures of aseptic technique.
  • Identify common pathogens found in the medical setting and the precautionary measures healthcare workers take to minimize the risk of contracting diseases.
  • Identify HIPAA privacy rules and regulations and patient information commonly maintained by a healthcare facility.
  • Recognize the duties and requirements of the sterile processing technician in the healthcare setting.
  • Identify basic concepts of anatomy, physiology, microbiology, microorganisms, and medical terminology related to the duties of sterile processing technicians.
  • Identify industry regulations and best practice standards common in the sterile processing field and the organizations responsible for setting the regulations and standards.
  • Identify common and complex surgical instruments, industry-approved practices for decontamination and sterilization of medical supplies and equipment, and the proper ways to transport equipment.
  • Identify procedures for effective inventory control and the tracking of instruments, equipment, and supplies.
  • Recognize quality assurance practices and workplace safety procedures.
  • Identify the importance of teamwork, workplace communication, and customer relations in the sterile processing setting.
  • Identify basic concepts of technology, writing, communication, and math skills used in the workplace.

In this course, you’ll develop the foundational skills to help you gain success in the program. You’ll learn how you can improve your study skills, so you’re able to use a number of tools that will help you to enter the professional world.


  • Identify skills needed to be a confident and independent online learner.

This course will give you an overview of the Allied Health field. You’ll study the history of allied health careers and what the future holds. You’ll also discover the roles available to you and the expectations your new job has for professional conduct, the skills and abilities you must possess, and the challenges of this profession. Additionally, this course has an overview of healthcare laws and regulations and the state and federal agencies that create those standards.


  • Describe the history of allied health careers and their roles in the future of medicine.
  • Discuss the changes in the American healthcare experience.
  • List the personal characteristics required to work as a successful allied health professional.
  • Outline the principles of medical ethics.
  • Discuss how HIPAA legislation affects medical practices today.
  • Discuss how ARRA and HITECH policies are affecting medicine today.
  • Understand the importance of medical record interoperability.
  • Discuss how PPACA legislation affects the practice of medicine and how Americans will buy health insurance in the future.
  • Describe the difference between an ACO and a medical home.
  • Define professionalism.
  • Explain ethics, specifically the four pillars of medical ethics.
  • Know what federal and state agencies are responsible for regulating different aspects of the healthcare marketplace.
  • Describe safety rules that allied health professionals must be aware of.

In this course, you’ll be introduced to medical terminology and learn the parts of various words. Then, you’ll move to anatomy and physiology to learn more about the various components of the human body and their functions, such as bones, muscles, and tissues. This lesson will also cover directional and regional terms used to better describe a patient’s concerns, as well as different regions of the body. In microbiology, you’ll study the parts of cells and how various pathogens cause disease.

In your last lesson, you’ll explore the math and computer skills that can help you succeed in your position as a sterile processing technician.


  • Define medical terminology and describe the origin of medical terminology.
  • Identify the four major word parts used in medical terminology.
  • Discuss the relevance of medical terminology in terms of how it correlates to service quality in the operative environment and the identification of surgical procedures.
  • Discuss the roles of cells, tissues, and organs within the human body.
  • Define and identify human body planes.
  • Identify and describe the nine major body systems and surgical operations that may correlate with these systems.
  • Define and describe microbiology and how it correlates with principles of the central services department.
  • Explain ways in which microorganisms can be identified  Define and describe bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, and prions.
  • Explain the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
  • Identify common bloodborne pathogens found in the workplace.
  • Describe how to calculate and convert temperature.
  • Solve simple problems by applying the concepts described in the lesson.
  • Identify and describe the four common arithmetic operations.
  • Identify and describe the parts of a computer.
  • Identify and describe the two types of software applications.
  • Discuss Microsoft Word and basic word processing tasks.
  • Describe the purpose of spreadsheet software applications.
  • Discuss Microsoft Excel and basic spreadsheet tasks.

In this course, you’ll be introduced to the central processing department and its work processes, as well as your employers’ expectations. You’ll also study the regulations and standards that you’ll abide by in a healthcare environment.

Next, you’ll be introduced to aseptic technique and how infections spread. This will help you and other healthcare employees protect patients and keep everyone from being exposed to harmful infections.

You’ll then go back to the sterile processing department and study how medical equipment is cleaned, decontaminated, and disinfected. The lesson will finish with an introduction to the surgical instruments you’ll be working with.


  • Discuss the importance of the central service department to the operation of healthcare facilities.
  • Explain the standards, ethics, guidelines, professional standards, and safety regulations that guide the central service profession.
  • Discuss the specific roles, basic knowledge skills, and functions of the central service technician.
  • Review workflow within the central service department.
  • Discuss the various federal and state regulatory agencies and how they’re pertinent to central services.
  • Define and distinguish regulations, standards, and recommended practices.
  • Discuss the HIPAA privacy and security rules and their implications in healthcare.
  • Distinguish between privacy and security.
  • Identify types of protected health information (PHI) within a healthcare setting.
  • Explain essential components of PHI policies and procedural protocols.
  • Discuss the role of a healthcare department’s privacy officer.
  • Discuss Spaulding’s Classifications for reprocessing medical devices.
  • Identify basic procedures and guidelines for establishing aseptic technique.
  • Discuss and distinguish medical versus surgical asepsis.
  • Discuss five basic principles of aseptic technique.
  • Identify basic procedures and guidelines for transporting medical equipment and opening supplies using asepsis.
  • Explain what’s meant by the chain of infection and discuss ways to break it.
  • Discuss the role personal protective equipment plays in the prevention of disease transmission.
  • Explain how to clean general, powered, and delicate instruments.
  • Define cleaning and decontamination and explain their processes.
  • Discuss water pH and quality, identify the various detergents used for decontamination, and describe the various pieces of equipment used to decontaminate medical instrumentation.
  • Discuss the different types of disinfection.
  • Identify basic and complex instrumentation and describe their design and guidelines for reprocessing.
  • Identify how surgical instruments are used in specific surgical procedures and are pertinent to their specialties.

This course will further explore the equipment and processes you’ll encounter in the central processing department. First, you’ll explore instruments are prepared and packaged before being transported to various departments in the hospital. Then, you’ll look at sterilization techniques and how you’ll monitor sterilizers to ensure they’re running efficiently. The next lesson will outline best practices for receiving, selecting, and distributing inventory, and how to keep track of equipment being used in your facility.

You’ll also study the specialty departments in the hospital and the equipment they use to care for patients.

Finally, you’ll work to gain the tools that can help you succeed in your new career as a sterile processing technician. You’ll understand the various workplace hazards you might encounter and how you can help during an incident. You’ll study how to effectively communicate with your coworkers from a wide range of backgrounds and how to grow your professional and personal reputation.


  • Identify different packaging and assembly procedures for medical devices.
  • Identify procedures for transporting sterile equipment.
  • Define the term Immediate Use Steam Sterilization and describe when it’s used within the operative environment.
  • Describe the differences between low- and high-temperature sterilization.
  • Explain how to load packaged medical devices into sterilizers.
  • Recognize various components of the steam sterilizer, their functions, and sterilizer cycle phases.
  • Describe physical, mechanical, chemical, and biological monitoring procedures.
  • Identify the various inventory replenishment systems and how they’re utilized in central service.
  • Discuss how ancillary services support central service.
  • Define the distribution process.
  • Discuss the receiving and requisitioning of medical supplies and equipment.
  • Identify reasons for record-keeping in the central service department.
  • Recognize quality assurance principles as they relate to sterilization monitoring and other processes in central service.
  • Identify consumable items used in central service.
  • Recognize OSHA compliance standards and explain how they contribute to safety in the workplace.
  • Identify safety guidelines, permissible exposure limits, and electrical safety concerns within the central processing department.
  • Identify guidelines for handling and disposing of hazardous materials.
  • Recognize internal and external workplace hazards.
  • Identify different types of communication and distinguish between formal and informal groups.
  • Define diversity.
  • Recognize characteristics of teamwork and personal and professional development in central service.
  • Recognize OSHA compliance standards and explain how they contribute to safety in the workplace.
  • Identify safety guidelines, permissible exposure limits, and electrical safety concerns within the central processing department.
  • Identify guidelines for handling and disposing of hazardous materials.
  • Recognize internal and external workplace hazards.
  • Identify different types of communication and distinguish between formal and informal groups.
  • Define diversity.
  • Recognize characteristics of teamwork and personal and professional development in central service.

Additional Details

  • Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Penn Foster College Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster College has been nationally accredited for over 40 years, and has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) in Washington, D.C. Penn Foster College has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations and licensing. We also participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

DEAC and SARA Accreditation Logos
instructor on computer phone.

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.

progress tracking animation.
group of people in a meeting.

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, access to a word processing program to complete written assignments, and an email account to complete this program with Penn Foster.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.