JWCC to offer degree in surgical technology
8 months, 2 weeks ago
Career field to grow by 25 percent through 2018
John Wood Community College has added a degree in surgical technology to its wide range of health science program offerings.
"We are excited for this next phase of development for surgical technology," Betty McDonnell, JWCC associate dean of health sciences said. "This degree can open up additional opportunities for career advancement in a growing field where new technology and techniques are revolutionizing the operating room every day."
Healthcare organizations in the region and across the country have a huge demand for graduates and will continue to well into 2018, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Surgical technologists work in many areas of healthcare facilities, including operating and delivery rooms, one-day surgery centers, emergency and central supply departments and ambulatory care centers.
"We graduate 10 to 12 students a year, and we've had an average placement rate of 90 percent the last two years," McDonnell said. "It is an outstanding field to enter and earning a degree just provides more opportunities for graduates."
JWCC first accepted students into a certificate program in 2000. Cathy Wittler, JWCC surgical technology chair, instructor and graduate of the College's program, says the development of the two-year applied associate degree follows the progression of the career path, which has expanded in the last several years.
"Educational options are keeping pace with the evolution of the field," Wittler said. "When the career path began, education came through on-the-job training. To build consistency in training and standards, certificate programs were offered and now we are providing the next step to further develop students' skills."
The two-year technical degree and certificate both prepare students to work under the supervision of a surgeon to facilitate the safe and effective conduct of invasive surgical procedures. Courses include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, microbiology and multiple specialized courses and clinical work in surgical technology. Each student is paired with a highly skilled, qualified clinical mentor at an area clinical facility. Students complete a minimum of 600 contact hours in the operating room.
The new degree offers additional coursework in the fields of surgical pharmacology, technical math, critical thinking, interpersonal communication and psychology.
"Now that we have a degree, it is an incentive for surgical technologists to improve their skills and competencies," Wittler said. "It will open doors to more career options, including management, surgical equipment representative work, and even instruction of the next generation of technologists."
As with many professional fields, technologists have levels of responsibility based on experience and educational levels. The levels include scrub, circulating and second assisting surgical technologist.
JWCC's program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs. Students who successfully complete the curriculum sit for the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting Certification Examination.