Piedmont Tech Elevates Surgical Technology Program to Associate Degree Status
This fall, Piedmont Technical College (PTC) upgraded its Surgical Technology degree program from a diploma to an associate of applied science.
“The point of diploma programs is to prepare individuals for entry-level access to the workforce as quickly as possible. An associate degree is more credit-intensive and represents a more concrete commitment to a particular career field,” said Tara Gonce, dean of healthcare at PTC. “Those who graduate with an associate degree generally have more in-depth knowledge of their discipline. It is likely a progression toward even further education and specialization.”
Anyone having undergone surgery has crossed paths with a surgical technologist. This vital member of the surgical team is responsible for preparing operating suites, employing aseptic technique to establish and maintain a sterile field (including sterilized instruments, drapes, and other materials), and working closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others on the perioperative team.
An experienced, well-trained surgical technologist must be knowledgeable of the nature of individual scheduled surgeries and anticipate the instruments and other supplies that will be needed for that specific procedure, ensuring they are on hand in the operating suite. By virtue of working closely with the team, this individual also may anticipate the next instrument needed before the surgeon asks for it, somewhat akin to family members finishing one another’s sentences. It truly is a close-knit working team.
“Surgical technologists will see a wide range of procedures. They never forget that patients are people, and surgery can be an emotional experience for some,” said PTC Surgical Technology Program Director Susan Kinney. “Regardless, surgical technologists must be professional, dependable team players.”
Most people are familiar with the surgical technologist’s role handing instruments and other sterile supplies to the surgeon and medical team. They also help prepare patients for surgery, such as cleaning and disinfecting incision sites.
“Surgical technologists provide patient care in all phases of surgery, from pre-op to intra-op to post-op. Students who complete this program not only have expertise in aseptic technique, but they also have a fundamental knowledge of human anatomy and basic surgical procedures,” Kinney noted. “This prepares them to be an integral member of the surgical team.”
This year’s Surgical Technology class is full of bright students who share a desire to help people. One of them is Isabelle “Izzy” Casey.
“The Surgical Technology Program might be overlooked among the list of medical field options. From my experience, many people have never even heard of it. This is unfortunate, as I have found it to be a tremendously exciting and rewarding experience,” Casey said. “My favorite part so far has been learning the process of properly washing our hands and putting on our sterile gowns and gloves before a case. This is called ‘scrubbing in.’”
Acceptance into PTC’s Surgical Technology Program is competitive and limited to 20 students beginning each fall semester. To learn more, please visit www.ptc.edu/surgical.
• PTC Surgical Technology student Izzy Casey
• PTC Surgical Technology Program Director Susan Kinney