Joplin, MO - Freeman Health System is proud to celebrate the first four graduates of the Surgical Technician Apprenticeship Program. The students were picked from 150 employees who applied to be part of the newly developed program designed to prepare them to assist with surgeries. Demand for workers in this field prompted Freeman to begin this unique on-the-job training program. Graduates like Sarah Painter, a former orderly, were chosen for their potential and for being a top performer in their field.
“This was a great opportunity for me. I became an orderly to see if I could do this kind of work,” Painter said. “It was hard work, but I really like to learn so I just took advantage of all opportunities to be in the operating room.” Painter had the highest number of surgical case participation, with more than 280 during the six-month clinical training program.
Surgical technicians came into being as a result of a nursing shortage after World War I, and in the late 1960s, improvements in technology created the need for surgical technician programs.
A surgical technician is a healthcare professional who assists the surgeon and the medical team in the operating room. They help prepare the surgical suite with necessary equipment and supplies; create and maintain a sterile field in which to operate; organize and prepare instruments to ensure the surgeon has everything needed for invasive and non-invasive procedures; assist nurses with preparing the patient for surgery; and assist anesthesia and cleaning as well as reprocessing instrumentation.
The Freeman apprenticeship starts with an eight-week education that includes instruction in anatomy, medical terminology, aseptic techniques, operating room layout, specialty equipment, surgical instruments and procedures. Then a mock surgical procedure is performed by each apprentice as a final exam before they begin 18 weeks of clinicals. They work four ten-hour shifts each week with surgical technicians in the operating room precepting them as the apprentices apply what they learned in the classroom and fine-tune their skills.
The program is available to current employees. The training is unique in the region in that there is no cost to employees, it is good for morale as a means of advancement and it allows for better staffing throughout the hospital and better bonds between coworkers. Two of the graduates have already been asked to join specific departments, one in orthopedics and another in cardiac care.
Freeman’s surgical technician apprenticeship will run again in March of 2021.
Pictured in group photo left to right: Dr. Dennis Estep, Freeman Chief Medical Officer; Sarah Painter, graduate; Breanna Landes, graduate; Savannah Hemann, Program Instructor; Nathan McCarthy, graduate; Martin Fordham, Program Director; Genaro I Cifuentes Fuentes
About Freeman Health System
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.