Surgical technology wins sixth consecutive merit award

Photo by Tom Warner | Parkland Surgical Technology students prepare their tools for a mock surgery.

Photo by Tom Warner | Parkland Surgical Technology students prepare their tools for a mock surgery.

Alex Davidson

Staff Writer

Parkland College’s Surgical Technology program was recently given the National Merit award, the sixth year in a row the program has received this award, a rare feat.

The National Merit Award is given to a surgical technology program with a National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting exam pass rate of 100 percent. The nationwide pass rate is only 70 percent, leaving Parkland ahead of the curve.

“I think it’s a tribute to our clinical science that our students are allowed to do just about every surgical procedure,” said Carolyn Ragsdale, Parkland’s surgical tech program director. “[They also] have great mentors at the hospitals, between the surgeons, the nurses, and the surgical technologists.”

The surgical tech program is a two-year certification, which ends with the student becoming a certified surgical technologist. A surgical technologist works as an assistant to the surgeon, helping them during operations to make sure that the surgery gets completed as quickly and as safely as possible.

The program requires that students take courses in surgical, clinical, and pharmacological sciences in order to best help the graduate in their career. Surgical sciences are those relevant to the surgeon, while clinical sciences are involved with diagnoses and treatments. Pharmacology is all about medicines. The students are also required to take English and psychology courses, microbiology courses, and anatomy courses.

“It’s a two-year associates degree,” said Ragsdale. “We’re trained to keep up with the surgeon, anticipate their needs, prepare instruments, prepare medications, know the anatomy, and know everything that’s going on in the procedure, so that we can assist them the best way we can.”

There are many staff members at Parkland involved in surgical tech, and each one of them plays a role in helping the students pass the exam, whether that be helping students if they fall behind or just teaching as well as they possibly can.

“[We have] committed faculty here,” said Ragsdale. “[Faculty,] both part-time and full-time, spend a lot of time assisting remediation, and teaching the students to gain the last goal to become certified and graduate from the program.”

It also has selective admissions, meaning that not every student gets into the program. Students are required to take tests in order to determine their aptitude, and then must keep at least a 2.0 grade-point average and at least a “C” letter grade in every class they take. If they don’t meet these requirements, they are removed from the program.

There are also a multitude of physical, mental, and communication skills which are required, without which students would not succeed in the course, such as very fine motor skills, color differentiation, and they ability to stand for long periods of time and move heavy objects. Students also cannot have a latex allergy, so as to avoid a deadly reaction to certain equipment they must handle.

Students also have to be emotionally level-headed at all times and must know how to handle high stress levels effectively, as well as changes in the workplace environment in order to perform their duties.