Wallace Community College announced Tuesday that the Dothan campus would be officially opening a new program in Surgical Technology for fall 2019.
The program is made possible, in part, through a grant from Wiregrass Foundation for $551,339, said Wiregrass Foundation executive director Barbara Alford. The funds were approved and designated for use in the development and implementation of the Surgical Tech program following a “compelling” grant proposal by the college.
“We have great regard for the college, both as an institution of higher education and as a major contributor to the economic development of the Wiregrass,” Alford said.
The new program is also receiving support from Southeast Health and Flowers Hospital.
The Surgical Technology Program will be housed in the 100,000 square-foot Health Science building, which opened in January 2017. WCC 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.
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.
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.
WCC will begin taking applications for the fall 2019 class beginning March 1, and will be accepted through 2 p.m. on Friday, May 24.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth outlook through 2026 for surgical technologists is 12 percent nationwide, faster than the average for all occupations. The growth in Alabama for the same period is 7.5 percent, 26 percent in Florida, and 22 percent in Georgia.
The surgical technology program will complement Wallace College’s existing seven disciplines in the Health Sciences area of study.
“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 who are well-educated and reliable in the operating room.”
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 percent of the staffing in the OR is 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.”
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 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, WCC associate dean of Health Sciences. Buntin plans to utilize the labs to enhance Interprofessional activities between Wallace, The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM), and Troy University students.
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