Baker College Surgical Technology students practicing techniques in the classroom.
Hospitals across the nation are grappling with a critical shortage of surgical technologists (surg techs), leading to concerns about patient care and the overall functioning of surgical services. Baker College has emerged as a beacon of hope, offering students a program that aims to alleviate this demand, prepare them for a successful career, while ensuring a steady supply of skilled professionals to the operating room.
The absence of these highly specialized professionals who assist surgeons during procedures can significantly impact patient care. Without sufficient surg techs, the workload on existing technologists increases, leading to burnout and potential errors. Additionally, hospitals face a reduction in their capacity to perform surgeries, which can affect revenue.
With a comprehensive two-year surg tech program offered on three campuses, and cohorts ranging from 15-20 students, Baker College works to raise awareness about the profession and provide a high-quality training program. Recent graduates excelled above national averages, boasting a remarkable 100% pass rate for the 2023 credentialing exam, demonstrating the effectiveness of their training.
Jennifer Kempa, Baker College Surg Tech Program Director emphasizes the importance of foundational education provided by institutions like Baker College. “We lay that foundation and get the student ready at the entry level position where they can participate and not just spectate,” Kempa said. “A big part of this job comes with experience, but you’re not going to understand what you’re seeing unless you have a foundation.”
Kempa mentions allied health positions such as radiology technologists and surg techs are a subset of medicine that is often forgotten. These specialized roles are crucial to patient care and demand a specific skill set that encompasses technical knowledge, hands-on expertise, and the ability to work seamlessly within the operating room environment. Despite the physician’s extensive training, surg techs must stay ahead and be well-versed in every step of the procedure, and anticipate the needs of surgeons and adjust their actions accordingly.
Kempa credits Baker with creating an environment where students’ success is priority. “I love how student-centered we are. Every decision we make boils down to what is right for the students. We’re here to let clinical partners know we’re making the investment in our students, and we’re here to help with the shortage and urgent demand. You need baseline knowledge to be effective, and our program does just that.”
Yet, more work is needed to reduce the shortage, as Kempa suggests collaborations between educational institutions and clinical partners. Through externships, students gain practical experience, all while addressing the demand for skilled surgical technologists.
“Having the opportunity to partner and build externship programs would further benefit the healthcare industry and this area specifically,” Kempa said. “If there are no workers to do the work, patient care suffers. Because surg techs are a specialized position, other workers cannot substitute.”
The skills and techniques that will transfer into operating rooms are what Baker College teaches. By investing in the education and training of surg techs, graduates may fare better in terms of certification, advancement, and comprehensive knowledge, but overall they play a vital role in patient safety and well-being. “Working in surgeries is one of the few areas in medicine where you get to make a difference in real time, and Baker College is positioning its graduates to make a significant impact on patient care within hospitals nationwide,” said Kempa.