14 graduate with surgical technologist degrees
Fourteen students from High Tech North graduated from the surgical technologist program last week. The full-time program certifies students to assist a surgeon in the operating room.
Assistant Director of High Tech North Bob Fain explained that there are four members of a surgical team — surgeon, surgical nurse, anesthesiologist and certified surgical technologist.
“They have the responsibility of finding out what operation procedure is coming up and selecting all of the probable instruments that will be needed,” said Fain.
Surgical technologists prepare the instruments and sterile drapes for an operation, transport patients to the operating room, and sterilize or shave the patients before the incision begins. They often assist with checking vitals and updating charts.
“When the surgeon says ‘I need this tool,’ they can slap it in the surgeon’s hand,” said Fain. “They also have the responsibility of checking the count so nothing gets left behind.”
Each instrument and cotton swab during an operation is accounted for, he said. Sometimes instruments are lost if they fall on the floor, and in some instances swabs or towels can be left inside a patient by accident.
“Some of these things are pretty small. In an operation there are things that get moved around,” said Fain. “The technologist needs to be able to keep track of where they are going.”
The job outlook for surgical technologists is highly favorable, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is expected to grow by 24 percent between 2006 and 2016, faster than average growth for most other professions.
Technologists earn between $34,000 and $37,000 per year. Fain said on Monday that some of the graduates have already been hired locally.
Students in the surgical technology program, taught by Dona Hoyt, have to complete 1,330 hours before they are certified. Fain said it takes students one full year without any breaks to finish the program.
“When others have vacation time off, these students continue,” he said.
The size of the program is typically capped at 12, but this year it graduated 14. It had included a 15th student who left early because of personal family issues but plans on finishing the certification next year, said Fain.
Some of the students this year are also veterans who received some training in the U.S. Armed Forces, and later chose to hone their expertise at High Tech North.
The surgical technologist program was originally administered at High Tech Central in Fort Myers before it moved to the north Cape Coral campus. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Council on Occupational Education.
“High Tech North has the only public education program in the area for surgical technology,” said Fain.
This year’s graduates include Soloman Barrett, Heather Barzo, Maria Catalano, Leslie Corona, Nadine Frisella, Andrew Lea, Krystl Martinez, Joel Massop, Jose Oliva, Debra Rodriguez, Patricia Rueth, Abel Santiago, Lynn Scalone and Richard Taber.
The next class begins Jan. 5.