Surgical Technology: The Backbone of Surgery

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College’s Allied Health programs offer students in the 11 counties they serve the opportunity to join the world of medicine in many unique ways. Students can enter the medical field through dental assisting, medical assisting, nursing – both LPN and RN, or as x-ray technicians through radiological technology and several other programs. One program many do not hear much about is surgical technology. This program graduates skilled and job-ready surgical technicians and has recently received some of the newest technology available to assist students in real-word application through education and training.

Just as an orchestra is led by the musical conductor keeping the musicians perfectly cued and in time, surgical technicians work in harmony with the surgeon during surgery. Surgical technicians have been called the “backbone of surgery” because they have to work in unison with the surgeons they assist. Musicians watch the conductor as the surgical techs watch the surgeon, anticipating which instrument he or she will need before any words are spoken. The duties of a surgical technician include preparing the operating room suite for surgery, gathering any additional supplies, as well as assembling and maintaining the surgical field. Once the procedure is complete, the surgical technologist is responsible for breaking down the sterile field, transporting instruments to the central processing location, and getting ready for the next procedure. These specialized technicians work as part of a team of operating room professionals.

The college’s program has a unique way of providing students with a real-life experience in the classroom. Thanks to college supporters and donors, the program has a SynDaver, which is a synthetic life-like cadaver for students to practice with and learn about the human anatomy. “Karla,” the Syndaver’s name, is very life like. Other Allied Health programs also utilize Karla. The emergency medical services program can practice intubation, phlebotomy students can draw blood, the RN program can start IVs, and the LPN student train to insert a catheter just to name a few. For the surgical technology students, it teaches the layers of tissue as well as the location of each vital organ that they may be required to assist a surgeon with during surgery.

“We are so blessed to have this type of training tool here at Wiregrass, “ said Katrina Bohanon, surgical technology program coordinator for Wiregrass.
The work environment can be stressful and demanding, but the rewards outweigh the demands by far.

“Knowing that you have assisted in helping save someone’s life, to increase their quality of living, is very rewarding,” Bohanon said. “The program has a 100 percent job placement rate, and at least eight local job openings for a certified surgical technologists are open right now.

Starting pay for a new surgical technologist is around $14.65-$16 an hour. Graduates can apply for jobs in hospital settings or private practices.

Those entering the program at Wiregrass Tech can graduate in five semesters with an associate’s degree. The classes consist of classroom, lab, and clinical time during the day. Once candidates complete the program, they are eligible to sit for the certification.

“Surgical techs play a key part in saving lives and making people feel better after surgery,” Bohanon said. “Most patients will not remember them, but knowing that you were part of a team that saves lives is worth it.”

For more information about the surgical technology career field or the program, visit wiregrass.edu or contact the program coordinator, Katrina Bohanon, at Katrina.bohanon@wiregrass.edu.

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