Surgical techs in short supply; Parkland sets open houses for students

Surgical techs in short supply; Parkland sets open houses for students

CHAMPAIGN — In hospital operating rooms in East Central Illinois and beyond, surgical technologists are in big demand.

Training takes up to two years at Parkland College, and hiring is often completed before graduation day, says Carolyn Ragsdale, Parkland's surgical technology program director.

"Locally, our graduates are placed a couple of months before they are even done, so the demand locally is high as well as nationally," she said.

If you'd like to know more about this program, Parkland has scheduled two open houses for later this month in which surgical technology students will put on their operating room gowns and demonstrate their skills.

Both open houses are open to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 20 and Sept. 23 in Room L-143 on the Parkland campus, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C.

Surgical technologists are part of the sterile team during surgeries. They pass instruments to the surgeon, handle tissue under the direction of the surgeon and operate medical equipment used in the sterile field, Ragsdale said.

People who might want to consider this kind of career should be willing to work on their feet for long hours, like using their hands, and have the ability to be up and moving and taking in new information and applying and processing it on the spot. An ability to work with a lot of different people is a plus, Ragsdale said.

Parkland says its surgical technology program is recognized as one of the top 20 elite programs in the nation, based on exam scores of graduates.

The program admits 20 new students a year, and they can earn a certificate or an associate degree — though, Ragsdale said, most students go on to finish the associate degree because it's just six additional credit hours than the certificate program.

Surgical technologists in Illinois earn an average of $18.88 an hour, according to Parkland.

Ragsdale said the job outlook in this field remains high nationally because of the number of aging baby boomers and surgical procedures being done.

New students are admitted only for the fall semester, with the fall 2012 application process set to begin March 1, 2012.

About 800 graduates and past administrators of the surgical technology program have been invited to a Sept. 21 reception to celebrate the program's anniversary, Ragsdale said.