Surgical technology program gives insight to profession at open house

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Dixie State University’s surgical technology program is in the process of recruiting potential students for next semester.

To give students an idea of what this program has to offer, surgical technology students and staff held an open house Monday. The open house occurs every spring semester in the Russell C. Taylor Health Sciences Center to give an inside look into what a surgical technologist does in the operating room. Inside of the surgical technology laboratory, people were given the opportunity to participate in different hands-on activities and interact with current students in the program.

Kathy Snyder, the surgical technology program chair and instructor, said it is one of those hidden professions in the medical field.

“Nobody knows who we are or what we’re doing,” Snyder said. “The only people who see us are the surgeons and the patient, and the patient doesn’t want to know what we’re doing.”

Snyder said a surgical technologist is expected to prepare all the tools the surgeon needs to perform the surgery. They are also required to know all of the surgical procedures and anticipate 3-5 steps ahead of the surgeon to provide the next instrument.

Samantha Baumann, a health science adjunct professor, said without surgical technologists, surgeries would not run as smoothly. 

“We are all a team, and we are all doing everything that we can do to save somebody, and our main job is to keep the patient safe from infection,” Baumann said. 

Before becoming a surgical technologist, Snyder said students must first apply to be a part of the two year program. If students want to enroll in the program, admissions take into account the following: a cumulative GPA score, acceptable progress in completing prerequisite courses, grades in predictive courses, PSB-Health Occupations Aptitude Examination results, and references.

Entrance into this program is very competitive because if a student does not meet all of the requirements, he or she cannot be accepted, Snyder said. It is also a limited-enrollment program, which permits only 12 students every fall semester.

When classes begin, students are required to attend lectures and be able to apply this knowledge in their lab courses. These lab courses give students the chance to do hands-on skill practice in a non-patient setting, which prepares them for the clinical courses, Snyder said. 

“In these clinical courses, students go to an operating room and [perform what they’ve learned] with real surgeons and patients,” Snyder said. “They are always supervised by hospital staff to make sure the patient is protected and the student learns safely.”

Chandler Rose, a junior surgical technology major from Milford, said she goes to clinicals from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. a few days a week and attends lectures from 3 to 6 p.m. four days a week. 

“You study until you go to sleep, and then you do it all over again,” Rose said. “It’s tough, but you can get through it.”

Rose said the best part of this program is the ability to attend clinical courses at Dixie Regional Medical Center. Occasionally, the students also travel to Mesquite, Nevada, and Cedar to shadow surgical operations.

“It is a good feeling just knowing you’re helping that person and it is something different everyday,” Rose said. “I don’t know what I am going to be doing every single day [because] it can change within the hour.”

After completing at least 500 clinical hours and a minimum of 125 operation cases, students have to take the National Board for Surgical Technology to be certified as a surgical technologist. The program has had a 100 percent student pass rate for the last five years, and is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

“The board pass rates tell you that our program is sufficiently rigorous to exceed the minimum standards, and the students are strong, dedicated learners,” Snyder said.

For more information about the program, visit Dixie State University’s surgical technology website or call 435-879-4850.