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ST Program Going Strong for Nearly 40 Years

Saturday, March 29, 2014
By Eladio Jaimez

ST ProgramAs one of the oldest programs at Texas Technical College, the Surgical Technology (ST) Program has been providing operating room technicians to Valley hospitals for nearly 40 years.

Program chair Robert Sanchez has been involved with the program for 33 years and said 100 percent of graduates are placed in jobs and that 95 percent of technicians working in Valley hospitals are graduates of TSTC.

The ST Program is currently taking applications through April 11 for their next cohort starting this fall.

Sanchez said since most of the students complete their clinicals in hospitals from Brownsville to Mission, it's easy to get placed in jobs soon after they graduate and pass their certification exams. The current cohort is comprised of 18 students, which is set to graduate in August 2014. Once a student is accepted into the program, the first three semesters consist of academics and the next three of ST studies. Sanchez said each cohort takes up to 20 students.

"It's not difficult at all to place students in jobs right after college," Sanchez said. "They get job offers right away. As of right now, six of our 18 students have already received job offers."

A surgical technicians' role may vary from place to place but it involves working in an operating room and making sure all necessary supplies and equipment are ready for the surgeon during the procedure.

"They have to know what every instrument is used for and be able to react to stressful situations when those situations arise," Sanchez said.

Sanchez said the starting salary for a surgical technician can run between $15-18 per hour. After five years of working in the field, technicians can take their Certified First Assistant and Licensed Surgical Assistant exams. These certifications give the technician a bigger role in the operating room, Sanchez said.

Several graduates also go on to pursue a nursing degree and become Registered Nurses, Sanchez said.

Sanchez said that two ST alums are currently Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, two are Physician's Assistants and one is a medical doctor.

Clinical Coordinator Yolanda Ramirez graduated from the program in 2002. She returned five years ago and has been part of the instruction team at TSTC.

She credited the program for her success in this field.

"The ST program has provided me with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in our profession," said Ramirez, who went on to receive a Bachelor's of Applied Technology in Allied Health Studies from the University of Texas-Brownsville.

Senior Instructor Anna San Pedro said the program provided a strong foundation for her to continue her education after TSTC. San Pedro went on to receive a Bachelor's of Applied Arts and Sciences in Interdisciplinary Studies from UTB and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice from UTPA.

San Pedro said the success of the program and the students should be credited to Sanchez.

"He's established a strong network around the nation that has greatly influenced the success of the ST program at TSTC," San Pedro said.

For more information about the ST Program, go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingensurgtech.

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