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Date: August 13, 2020
CONTACT: Lisa Garrett,

By Lisa Garrett

Surgical Technology Named Advisory Committee of the Year

PENDLETON --- The surgical technology advisory committee’s practical and professional guidance this year, along with hands-on attention to student success, earned it Tri-County Technical College’s Advisory Committee of the Year award.

The committee was recognized for its achievements this year at the College’s virtual fall convocation August 13.

Committee members Laura Bachlet, nurse manager of perioperative services at Oconee Memorial Hospital, and Fran Kopnicky, retired bank manager,  along with Program Director Denelle White accepted the award.

The role of the surgical technology advisory committee is to provide feedback and assess annual program outcomes data and curricular issues. They maintain an active role in the continued assessment and revision of program goals, resources and outcomes.

 This year the committee engaged in three main objectives:  accreditation, curriculum redesign needed to transition to an associate degree this fall and facilities updates that will enhance student competencies.

 “Without the committee’s dedicated and high-quality participation, the success of these initiatives may not have been realized,” said White. 

 Since its inception in 1975, the program has maintained its accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). In October of 2010, the surgical technology program received a 10-year continuing accreditation by the CAAHEP. 

 This year the department began the process of its 2020 reaccreditation.  “The advisory committee will have a significant impact with the upcoming reaccreditation site visit. They will complete personal interviews with the site team and provide valuable information with regard to our students’ clinical experiences and the program’s resources. They are responsible for providing necessary documentation for reporting requirements not only for the reaccreditation self-study and site visit, but also annual reporting to Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting,” White said.

In addition, curricular recommendations made by the advisory committee and college faculty helped students to achieve a 100% pass rate on the National Board Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting Certification ExamThe program has among the highest pass rates, the highest placement rates and the highest scoring on employer and student surveys, with all meeting or exceeding the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) benchmarks,” White said.

In preparation to transition from a diploma to an associate degree, members have volunteered their time to gather vital information needed to plan and develop the transition.

In keeping with accrediting agencies’ guidelines, all surgical technology programs in the United States must convert to a two-year degree program by August 21, 2021.

“This was a very ambitious undertaking.  They reviewed the surgical technology program in detail. They completed numerous surveys, conducted critical tours of the surgical technology laboratory, collected vital information, gave important verbal reports to their hospital leadership and held critical conversations with the health education division dean pertaining to and in support of the transition, which was approved by college leadership and the commission,” said White.

 “These additional classes will prepare our graduates for today’s workplace and help to ensure quality patient care and optimal surgical outcomes for patients.”

Tri-County’s surgical technology program prepares students to serve as members of the surgical team through classroom and clinical experiences. Graduates work in hospital operating rooms, in labor and delivery, endoscopy, ambulatory centers and doctor's offices.

In addition, through the committee’s guidance, facilities have been improved to include laboratory and classroom renovations, new equipment and other smaller remodel and maintenance projects.  “These projects and renovations will provide our students the ability to learn with the latest technology and enhanced clinical environment they experience in our hospital externships,” said White.

White added that the advisory committee and the community have been longtime supporters in helping students with clinical rotation placement and preceptor training, which is invaluable to the program’s success. “Without this support, our program would not meet the standards required by CAAHEP and ARC/STSA. Standards require that our students complete 120 cases of different surgical specialties, with first scrub roles and second scrub responsibilities.  Student success is dependent on these relationships and professionally provided by their representation,” said White.



About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities.