Wallace announces new surgical technology program

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DOTHAN, Ala. (Wallace CC) — Wallace Community College - Dothan (WCCD) will officially open a new Surgical Technology program in fall 2019. The program will be a complementary addition to the seven existing credit Health Science programs.

The program is made possible, in part, through a grant by Wiregrass Foundation, with support from Flowers Hospital and Southeast Health. The move to create the program was a coordinated effort among this cohort to develop a Surgical Technology program instructed by an accredited institution in the area.

The Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees and ACHE, The Alabama Commission on Higher Education, recently approved the new program, and the College is moving through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation process.

“Wallace Community College is deeply grateful to the Wiregrass Foundation for their commitment to expanding programs for the area workforce,” said Dr. Linda Young, Wallace Community College president. “This program was a need for Flowers Hospital and Southeast Health and we appreciate their partnership in bringing this next-level education to our medical community.”

The Surgical Technology Program will be a welcome addition to the 100,000 sq. ft. Health Science building, which opened in January 2017. WCCD designed the three-story structure to accommodate expansion of the College’s healthcare offerings. Two renovated rooms on the first floor will function as simulated surgical suites. Students will also use classrooms on the second and third floors.

Surgical Technologists are an integral part of the surgical team. They prepare rooms for surgery, sterilize equipment, make sure there are adequate supplies for the procedure, ready patients, count supplies, and maintain a sterile environment. During surgery, technologists can pass instruments and supplies to surgeons or assistants, set up equipment and prepare the room for the next patient.

“Surgical technologists are such a critical part of a surgery team, and working with well-trained, knowledgeable technologists can significantly impact the outcome of a surgical case, from the success of the surgery itself to the turnover time of an operating room,” said Heath Phillips, Flowers Hospital chief executive officer. “The addition of this program will benefit hospitals and patients alike in our area by training future employees that are well-educated and reliable in the operating room. We’re proud to work with Wallace as they open this much-needed program in our local community.”

Christopher Holland, director of perioperative services at Southeast Health, also sees the new program as an opportunity to grow a local, well-trained workforce.

Holland has extensive background in the field, having trained as a surgical technologist during his stint in the U.S. Army. “We have relied for years on recruiting technologists from out of the area. It isn’t always easy when you consider that 40% of the staffing in the OR are surgical technologists,” he said. “Having a consistent field of applicants who finish in a high-level program with a partner like Wallace is the best of everything.” Holland is also a 2004 Wallace Associate Degree Nursing alumnus.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth outlook through 2026 for surgical technologists is 12% nationwide, faster than the average for all occupations. The growth in Alabama for the same period is 7.5%, 26% in Florida, and 22% in Georgia.

Obtaining a degree or certificate can be a plus in finding a job. Students completing the program are eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technologist Exam (CST) through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Certification as a Surgical Technologist demonstrates that the individual meets the national standard for knowledge.

The associate in applied science degree (69 semester hours) and certificate (60 semester hours) are both five-semester programs. Upon completion, students are eligible for an A.A.S in Surgical Technology or Certificate in Surgical Technology.

WCCD will begin taking applications for the fall 2019 class beginning March 1. Applications will be accepted through 2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 24.

“Wallace is pleased to add an additional program to the Health Sciences. This program will expand our offerings and serve our students and community healthcare facilities,” said Kathy Buntin, WCCD associate dean of Health Sciences. “Surgical Technology is a discipline totally different from the seven other credit health programs we offer, but yet it will complement each of the others.” Buntin plans to utilize the labs to enhance Interprofessional activities between Wallace, The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) and Troy University students.