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TCH Begins Surgical Technologist Program

Jul 28, 2009

If you think of your favorite medical show, chances are you can also conjure up the image of a surgeon being outfitted in gloves and mask before stepping in and saying, “scalpel.” Such television shows typically focus on the plight of the surgeon with little regard to the person who prepared the sterile field of the operating room or who handed our main-character surgeon the scalpel. While these people, referred to as surgical technologists, or scrub techs, may be overlooked in Hollywood, they are in high demand in the medical field.
“TCH, along with Hastings have an ongoing need for surgical technologists,” said Brian Hail, TCH Assistant VP of Emergency and Surgical Services. “In an effort to fulfill these needs we have partnered with the National Center for Competency Testing to become a training center for surgical techs.” 

For years the country has experienced a shortage of medical professionals. To combat the growing shortage of scrub techs, Tahlequah City Hospital and Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital joined forces and created a surgical tech program to be implemented at the two facilities. 

“Collaboration with the CN has afforded us the ability to establish programs like this,” said TCH President and CEO Brian Woodliff. “We are very grateful for the spirit of cooperation that TCH receives from the Cherokee Nation.” 

Five applicants were selected to begin the nine-month program which will teach the skills needed to become certified in the field. 

“All training will occur at both facilities so that once candidates have completed training they will be able to function independently at both facilities,” said Hail. 

The main duties of a surgical technologist include:

• Preparing the operating room
• Setting up surgical instruments and equipment
• Checking sterile and non-sterile equipment
• Preparing patients for surgery by washing, clipping and disinfecting
• Transporting patients to the operating room
• Helping the surgical team put on sterile gowns and gloves
• Assisting with surgical operations
• Passing instruments to the surgeon
• Disposing of specimens
• Operating suction machines, lights and diagnostic equipment
• Transporting patients to the recovery room after surgery
• Restocking the operating room

“This is a career that offers a lot of job growth with many opportunities,” continued Hail. 

“The program also provides us, the facilities, with surgical techs that have completed their training here and who are familiar with our surgeons and procedures. The participants are people who live in this area so it benefits the economy, creates jobs in our community, and provides competent employees for both hospitals.” 

Tahlequah City Hospital has sponsored three of the five students and in return they will fulfill a three-year commitment to the facility. 

The salary range for Surgical Technologists is in the range of $25,000 to $40,000 depending on location, experience and qualifications. Job growth in this field is expected as the population grows and ages. As a result, the job prospects for Surgical Technologists are predicted to be excellent. 

“It is the mission of Tahlequah City Hospital to provide excellence in healthcare,” said Woodliff. “Which requires providing excellence throughout the full spectrum of healthcare, not just certain areas. This is why I think the Surgical Technologist program will contribute greatly to our mission.”