The Surgical Technology Program

The Surgical Technology program at the SLCC Jordan campus is one of the best programs a high school student can take, yet not many people know about it. Perks of graduating this program include the chance to enter an operating room at the young age of 18, a starting salary of $20 per hour and the opportunity to have your higher education paid for by the facility for which you work.

 

According to Nicole Hatton, a new Surgical Technologist at Intermountain Healthcare (IMC) hospital, “We are the supplier for the surgeon; they bring their brain and hands and we bring everything else needed for the surgical case. We promote patient wellness as well as build, maintain, and protect the sterile field. We anticipate the surgeon’s next move and provide the instrumentation needed to help the surgical team facilitate the best possible patient outcome.” Hatton is a graduate from the SLCC Surgical Technology program and received job offers from two different hospitals. Most of the graduates from SLCC’s program get job offers from their clinical sites, and if it isn’t from their clinical sites, it’s from another hospital. SLCC Surgical Technology is known among hospitals as a program who produces good entry level CST’s rather than CST’s who can do the bare minimum. 

 

This program could change lives, but no one seems to know about it. Why is this the reality? Kristy Yeschick, the CTE coordinator at Copper Hills High said, “Because of the certification process for the program, it was not able to be split between the school district and Salt Lake Community College. It had to change to just Salt Lake Community College, so they switched the program to Early Enrollment.” This program is now Early Enrollment, it is often forgotten about or not advertised as much as some of the other JATC programs. However, Ms. Yeschick is one of the only CTE coordinators who are adequately informed about the program. This is a suitable resource for anyone interested in the program or who has questions about it. 

 

This program is an Early Enrollment program, so it is different from a regular JATC program. The Surgical Technology program supervisor, Greg Maughn said, “It isn’t hard to apply; I don’t require a lengthy application process, because I prefer to talk to the students in person to get a better feel for how they will fit into the program.” Maughn then explained that an applicant simply goes to slcc.edu and searches for the Surgical Technology program. Then, selects the high school program and clicks apply. This should direct one to a google form where you attach your transcript and some other information. 

 

Applying is easy, but there are also many pre-requisites and co-requisites to the program. The first one is Concurrent Enrollment (CCE) medical terminology, which is recommended to take your sophomore or junior year in high school. At Copper Hills, Mrs. McBee teaches this class through Weber State University, and it is called HTHS 1101. Other classes recommended that you take Junior year include Communications and a math class that is above the level of MATH 1010. If Secondary Math 3H was completed sophomore year, it would be beneficial to take MATH 1030 or above at Copper Hills High so the CCE rate of five dollars a credit is available. If Secondary Math 3H was completed Junior year, then take MATH 1030 or above Senior year. Lastly, BIOL 1610/1615 is required before entrance into the program. This class can be taken spring semester of Junior year or the summer semester before the program. The huge benefit of taking it in the spring semester is the tuition. In spring, it costs the CCE rate which is five dollars a credit. In the summer, it is full SLCC tuition, so it is a lot more money. 

 

One of the reasons for all of these pre-requisite classes is because Surgical Technology is the only high school program that gives you an associates degree upon completion. This can be a major benefit because after working as a Surgical Technician for six months, one can switch to part time and transfer to a four year university as a Junior. Another major benefit to this program is the starting pay for a new, entry-level Surgical Technologist is around $20 an hour. This is crazy because it is a three semester program. Maughn shared another benefit, “It was almost unheard of to be an 18 year old in the OR [Operating Room] before this program. Most 18 year olds don’t even know if they are going to college or not, let alone choosing a career that could last a lifetime.” 

 

Finally, the biggest benefit is the potential to have your college tuition paid for. If you work for a hospital, and they want you to come back after college, they may pay a portion of your college tuition in return for you coming to work with them after your higher education. 

 

This program has many benefits, but there are various challenges involved. The first is that it is a very rigorous program. Hatton said, “It is a commitment. It takes up a lot of your free time, so you have to make sacrifices like giving up extracurricular activities, social life, etc. The curriculum isn’t easy either; there is a lot of information to know and a lot of studying to be done.” 

 

Another part of the program that most of the students struggle with is the co-requisite of BIOL 2320/2325, or college Junior level Anatomy. The requirement is to pass this class with a C+ or higher, or you will be dismissed from the program. This class is taken during the first semester of the program, and is thus taken alongside SURG 1250. As a result, your time isn’t entirely devoted to studying for the Surgical Technology Program; significant effort must also be placed into studying Anatomy. 

 

The last potential barrier for the program is it being Early Enrollment. This means that it is full college tuition, which ends up being around $7,000 in the end. 

This program has its pros and cons, but overall it is worth it and will give you countless opportunities as a young adult. Hatton said, “Taking the Surg Tech program is one of the best choices I’ve ever made.” The professor is also a major benefit to taking this program. “He is like another dad to me. He genuinely is an amazing person through and through and really cares about his students. All throughout my middle school and high school years, I have never had a teacher who cared as much as he did. He will do whatever he can to help his students succeed, even if that means learning how to work a computer. No professor can compare,” Hatton said.