Parkland to highlight surgical technology program in weeklong event

 

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

Parkland’s Surgical Technology program has a 100 percent employment placement rate for those students that actually seek employment. In fact, the amount of jobs has often outnumbered the amount of students graduating from the program.

Job security is just one of the numerous perks to the profession.

“I like the fast paced, never know what’s going on, change-up,” said second year surgical technology student Brittany Dahlman.

Photo courtesy of Surgical Technology | Parkland College Students in the Surgical Technology program assist in a practice surgery during class. This program received the annual Merit Award from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting in 2013-14 for their 100 percent graduate pass rate.

Photo courtesy of Surgical Technology | Parkland College
Students in the Surgical Technology program assist in a practice surgery during class. This program received the annual Merit Award from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting in 2013-14 for their 100 percent graduate pass rate.

Surgical technologists play a pivotal role in the surgery process. The assistance of a surgical technologist is needed to aid surgeons and maintain the general cleanliness of the operating room.

Dahlman put it bluntly- surgical technologists are the “sterile freaks” of the operating room. They are not there only to hand vital medical instruments to doctors. They are there to make sure the environment and the surgery are completely sterile which in turn keeps patients safe from infections.

Becky Masters, who is a Certified Surgical Technologist and a full-time faculty member who teaches surgical technology classes, obtained her certification at Parkland. She noted the rewarding challenges of the program and the profession.

“Surgical technology is very challenging. The concepts we’re teaching are some things that most people don’t think about in their everyday life. So it’s always a really good feeling when you see them get it and have them understand what you’re teaching,” Masters said.

 

Carolyn Ragsdale is the Surgical Technology Program Director. She’s also a Certified Surgical Technologist and fulltime faculty at Parkland.  She’s been teaching at Parkland since 1989 and in the director position since 2010.

Ragsdale teaches a full course load, oversees contractual obligations with the hospitals they work with, makes sure students are compliant with the rigorous screening process, and is in charge of the outside accreditation.

Ragsdale started at Illinois State in the nursing program. She wasn’t crazy about it and shifted to surgical technology as she loved the idea of always thinking on your feet.

According to Ragsdale, the job is never redundant. It changes with every single patient and it can be challenging for students but is ultimately the reason that many are drawn to the field.

“When they graduate from the program, they are prepared to go into any operating room in the United States. They are ready to be employed. Some choose to continue their education but they don’t have to,” Ragsdale said.

Charles Christopher is a second year surgical technology student alongside Dahlman. They both remarked on their enjoyment of the more gruesome aspects of the career.

“The job I had before this I could see some gross aspects but it was in an uncontrolled environment. I wanted to be able to see all the grossness altogether in a more controlled environment,” Christopher said.

Christopher is a former firefighter and had seen many injuries via the response role. Now he wants to be in the action and assisting with surgeries.

Dahlman had somewhat of a medical background as well, dabbling with the CNA program and a number of other jobs.

Christopher is in the fast track portion of the class where all the surgical technology classes are taken at once.

Dahlman elected to take her general studies first and then do surgical technology portion. Both students explained that the program is quick and keeps you on your toes but if studies are kept up with then it’s more than manageable.

Parkland’s Surgical Technology program is a 2 year program. The first year focuses mainly on elective and general studies courses like English and Biology. The start of the second year focuses more on surgical technology.

Entry to the program requires a completed Health Career Application and an application fee along with other screening after acceptance into the program.

Students take a national certification exam. If passed, they are certified to work in any state. Other programs are limited to the state of Illinois and this provides a mobility aspect for surg tech students.

Their pass rate for the 2014 National Certification Exam was also 100 percent.

Surgical Technology Week at Parkland starts on Sept. 21 with a potluck hosted by the Surgical Technology Club. Two different open houses will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. The second will be on Friday, Sept. 25 from 1-3 p.m.

These open houses will be held in the mock operating room. Interested students are encouraged to come as well as current students. This is a way for their families to see what they do as most of their job consists of them behind closed doors. The club, Ragsdale, and Masters also want to raise awareness about the field and help combat any misconceptions.

Ragsdale encourages any interested students to contact her to set up times to observe the classroom experiences of the surgical technology program. She is reachable via email at cragsdale@parkland.edu.