FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           4/27/2020

                                                                         (By Lisa Garrett)

PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College’s surgical technology program will transition from a diploma to an associate degree program this fall.

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.

Every five years, the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) is required to review the profession’s Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Education Programs in Surgical Technology. The new standards prompted the need to require associate degree credentials.

Tri-County’s curriculum change was approved last November by the S.C. Technical College System.

“I’m so excited - this has been a long time coming.  We have been working toward this since I joined the College three years ago,” said Denelle White, surgical technology program director.  “Graduates really do need the additional knowledge and skills. New surgical procedures are developed every day and technology is advancing so quickly.  Additional classes will prepare our graduates for today’s workplace and help to ensure quality patient care and optimal surgical outcomes for patients.  We want the competencies of all surgical technologists to be at the highest level.  As the Association of Surgical Technologist motto states, ‘Aeger Primo,’ or the patient first,” said White.

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, said White.

 The rapid rate of advanced technology requires more knowledge and advanced skills to be incorporated into the curriculum.

In addition to two new surgical technology classes – surgical procedure and biomedical sciences – this fall students will take transfer-level English and math, biology 101, microbiology 225, and anatomy and physiology.  General education classes, such as psychology, humanities and public speaking, are now required.

With the new requirements, if graduates want to pursue a four-year degree in the future, it will be possible because the classes are transferable.

“We want them to have this opportunity which can result in promotions to leadership roles in health care,” said White.

She added that hospital affiliates and the surgical technology advisory board are in support of the associate degree and prefer to accept students for clinical externships who are enrolled in accredited programs with an associate degree.

 “It’s an additional investment of time for students, and it’s a worthwhile investment,” said White.

The surgical technology department is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.