(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The ever-growing medical field is more vital than it has ever been. Health care workers are an essential part of our well-being, and the Surgical Technology program at Texas State Technical College not only boasts a high completion rate, but it is also a very hands-on academic journey that prepares students for a career in this crucial field.
Senior instructor Anna San Pedro, a 22-year veteran of the program, discussed her experiences at the forefront of surgical technology at TSTC and the impact that students who complete the program have on their communities.
“I graduated back in 1995,” she said. “I worked at Valley Baptist Medical Center for a few years right after that.”
After learning of an opportunity to become a lab assistant, San Pedro joined the TSTC team in 1998 and has been working at the college ever since.
“Just recently Mr. (Robert) Sanchez retired after 39 years as program director,” she said. “I took over the program last year. It’s very exciting. I’ve got big shoes to fill!”
The 2019 graduating class had a program completion rate of 83 percent, which is above the national average, an attribute that San Pedro credits to the leadership of the program.
“The curriculum that Mr. Sanchez put together, and all the work he put into setting up the affiliations with the surrounding facilities, is part of why we have seen such high success rates,” San Pedro reiterated. “We have affiliations from Brownsville to Mission, which have also given us high success rates with regard to placing our students.”
The program, which is six semesters long, offers an intricately hands-on approach to learning.
“It is highly intensive clinically, and they’re learning on the job,” San Pedro added. “Our students are getting hands-on training at these facilities. What sets us apart are our strong affiliations and the fact that our students are receiving such a diversified clinical training before they complete the program.”
TSTC’s Surgical Technology department is dedicated to student success so much so that students have the opportunity to tour an operating room before they make their final decision to begin their academic journey.
“We give them a local tour so that they have the chance to see what the operating room is about,” San Pedro said. “It’s about two hours long, and we do the tours because we want to give them as best an inside view into their potential career as we can. We want them to make the best decisions for themselves about the program.”
While getting into the program is competitive, San Pedro said that students not only grow academically through their coursework, but they also grow as medical professionals.
“I enjoy seeing that evolution take place,” she said. “Seeing students come in with no understanding of the operating room and then seeing them begin to get to know the industry is really inspiring. It’s a huge step with regard to their professional growth.”
Despite the challenges that come with any academic feat, and the rigorous coursework that comes with the medical territory, San Pedro stated that the rewarding aspect of being the helping hand for another person is part of what makes the profession worth it.
“You get to help somebody,” she said. “That’s the most rewarding thing. You can actually change the life of an individual.”
To learn more about TSTC’s Surgical Technology program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/programs/SurgicalTechnology.