Sherry Aguirre and Robin Wallace, instructors for the Surgical Technology Program at WATC, have been on both sides of the fence. Both are instructors and graduates of the program.
In 1996 Sherry knew she was interested in the medical field. After graduating she worked as a private scrub in an orthopedic surgeon’s office. After about nine years she decided she wanted to teach others the skills she had learned. She came back to WATC and worked for a year as an adjunct clinical instructor and loved it. She started working full time as a surgical technology instructor in 2006. About six months later she became the Director of the Surgical Technology Program.
When asked what she enjoys about the surgical technology program, she said it’s usually when the students “get it.”
“At some point a light clicks on for students and they begin to excel. They become driven to work independently. ”
WATC offers both a Technical Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology. Many students come to the program with previous credits and enroll in the technnical certificate program to help complete requirements for an AAS degree.
The technical certificate is a full-time program lasting 10 months. It consists of didactic and lab training, and consists of very hands-on training. One of the unique advantages of the program offered at WATC is that “everything used in the lab is the same equipment and materials used in an actual operating room. WATC has a dedicated, state-of-the art operating room lab.” This is not the case for other schools that offer the same training.
The following local businesses are members of healthcare industry advocate teams who advise WATC educators, administrators, and Board of Trustees regarding the program:
- Galichia Heart
- Ridgewood Surgery Endoscopy
- South Central Kansas Regional Medical Center
- Susan B. Allen Hospital
- Team Vision
- VA Hospital
- Via Christi-St. Joe
- Via-Christi-St Teresa
Advantages and Transferability
Some advantages that students see from working in the surgical technology field are:
- Flexiblity to work different shifts
- Flexbility for a student to continue their education while working
- Some hospitals pay for their staff to continue their education
The training here at WATC can be a stepping stone for other opportunities. If a student wanted to continue on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, the general education credits transfer to other universities. Newman offers a bachelor degree in Healthcare Science.