Navigating the New Sterile Processing Landscape: A 2023 Industry Report Overview

In June of 2023, Pure Processing conducted our annual Sterile Processing State of the Industry Survey to get an understanding of the industry’s challenges, changing attitudes & dispositions of technicians and leadership, and the most important problems to solve.  

There were many fascinating takeaways and trends the survey highlighted; here’s an overview of the hot topics and information from the full 2023 SPD State of the Industry Report. 


Training & Education

Participants emphasized a need for more training & education opportunities throughout the survey. While over 70% reported that their department’s leadership considered training & education important, it was rated amongst the lowest quality elements of their department, even among options like ergonomics, culture, and leadership.   

The biggest challenge? An inability to participate in training & education opportunities. Many participants explained that while there are many ways to receive training & education, departments aren’t enabling their teams to take advantage of those opportunities while on the clock. 


Patient Safety

Patient safety still plays a central role in the minds of those working in sterile processing. Participants cited patient safety as a top reason they enjoy working in SPD and considered it instrumental when asked what makes a department great to work in. It’s not just leadership’s emphasis on patient safety, though; many look for an emphasis on patient safety among their peers as well, noting that doing things the right way in the name of patient safety is a must. A patient-first culture was key for overall job satisfaction.   


Pay & Benefits

Pay & benefits remained a top concern in 2023. Comparing their wages against those of fast-food restaurants, participants noted that SPD has been left behind in terms of compensation. By intertwining compensation with training & education, some SPD professionals are seeking to have certifications and educational accomplishments be the basis for pay increases. A lack of compensation enhancement for obtaining certifications, such as CRCST, was identified as contributing to the number of underqualified people currently working in sterile processing departments. Technicians are feeling the lack of incentive for certification, and taking notice of its impact in very real ways. 



47% of participants reported having been injured at some point in their sterile processing career. While sticks/punctures were far and away the most common, the wide variety of injuries demonstrates just how dangerous working in SPD can be. Some unique injuries included: 

  • Chemical exposure and burns 
  • Respiratory damage from PPA 
  • Shocks 
  • Falling objects


Upcoming Challenges

Staffing & Retention is considered the most substantial challenge in the near future. Fewer people apply for positions in SPD (with many applicants being under-qualified for the work), as well as compensation challenges keeping good people from applying and/or accepting positions, is compounding the people challenges for central sterile leadership.   

Other challenges that participants believe would emerge or escalate over the next year included compliance concerns, growing instrument complexity, keeping up with increased volume, antiquated technology, and robotics program expansion. 


Hands-On & In-Person

Many participants voiced the need to get back to face-to-face interactions. Whether it be attending a local chapter show for education and networking opportunities, attending national shows, such as the HSPA Conference, or getting hands-on training with industry professionals on equipment within their department, people want to interact with people. 

Vendors are playing a big role on this front, with over 87% of participants saying they’re looking to vendors for equipment training, educational sessions, and in-services.  


2023 Sterile Processing State of the Industry Report

Interested in digging into all the information and data from in the 2023 Sterile Processing State of the Industry Report? Sign up to receive a free digital copy when it’s published! 

Check out some other blog posts diving into data from the report here: 

Roots of the Staffing and Retention Challenges in SPD – 2023 SPD Survey Results

Unlocking SPD Trends: A Side-by-Side Analysis of 2022 and 2023 Survey Data



The SPD State of the Industry Survey is an annual, free, anonymous survey asking real sterile processing professionals across the country about their experiences, backgrounds, and challenges they face in their departments. We hope by providing access to free industry research and data, instrument reprocessing professionals can better grow, develop and improve their own departments through the experience of their peers. We are grateful for all the professionals who participate each year, and the contributions to their patients and facilities: thank you for all you do!