surgical technology students wearing scrubs conduct a mock operation in a classroom
Oct 5, 2023

Flathead Valley Community College Program Helps Combat National Shortage of Surgical Technologists

By Kiana Wilson

There is a national shortage of surgical technologists, but Flathead Valley Community College students are working their way into the operating room.

A Surgical technologist is in charge of preparing the patient for surgery and the operating room, and hands tools to the surgeon during operations.

At FVCC, there is a mock operating room where students get to roleplay this exact scenario before working in a real operating room.

“It was scary at first, but exciting. You get to see it all put together. I mean, there's only so much you can recreate in the lab. So to go out into, what we call the real world, and see what it's actually like was pretty exciting for me,” said one surgical technologist student.

Students are in the program for three semesters where they learn the foundational skills in the classroom and labs. The students then go work part-time in the hospital doing clinical rotations and in the third semester, they take the skills they learned and put them to practice in the OR.

“It's pretty exciting to see them succeed. Go from not having any skills in the operating room to just their progression throughout the entire program," said Surgical Technologists program director Robyn Hoggatt. "Getting those foundational skills then going on to clinical and then being in entry level and being hired."

This program, along with the prerequisites, typically takes students 18 months to two years to complete. And with the national shortage of these medical professionals, you can get hired pretty much anywhere and begin helping patients.

“It's very fulfilling. I mean, to see somebody cut open and then to have them be okay. At least we helped along their healing,” one student said.

Both students and local hospitals benefit from having the program in Kalispell.

“I think that is really important for the valley to have this so that we can work with our facilities to provide them with employees,” said Hoggatt.

The application deadline for the spring Surgical Technology Program is on Friday, October 6, 2023. Additional information can be found here.