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Due to a shortage of surgical technicians, Campbell County Health has partnered with a community college to help them

surgical technicians assist during a surgical procedure
pixnio.com

A recent partnership agreement that was signed last month will allow two surgical tech students from Laramie County Community College (LCCC) to work at Campbell County Health (CCH) for 16-30 hours per week while obtaining their degree program.

The agreement is for seven years with CCH paying for students’ tuition, fees, and books in addition to paying students a salary and guaranteeing them a job before and after graduation. In exchange, students will work as surgical technologists, more commonly known as scrub techs, for CCH for three years after graduation. A screening committee will help determine which students are selected for the program. LCCC’s surgical tech program is currently the only one in Wyoming, according to a press release.

“What we thought would be ideal is to hire them as full-time employees and pay them some of, a portion of the time that they will spend in their studies and attending the lectures via [Microsoft] Teams and doing their hands-on skills,” said Lisa Coleman, Manager of Professional Development and Emergency Preparedness at CCH. “The other hours, they will work in our surgery department.”

The partnership also aims to fill surgical tech vacancies that CCH has long struggled to fill. Though the COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in the troubles attracting qualified applicants, staffing these critical positions is something that they’ve long since struggled with. Surgical techs commonly work in hospitals, surgery centers, and operating rooms, assisting with surgeries. There was a 10 percent increase in the number of surgeries performed from June to July of this year. Elective surgeries are once again a go. They were canceled during the pandemic.

“Here at CCH, we have a need for certified surgical techs and it’s a need that has largely been difficult to fill despite some incentives that we have used in recruiting,” she added. “We’re still finding ourselves unable to fill those positions.”

There are currently two students participating in LCCC’s hybrid program. They’re both completing their prerequisite coursework this year and will arrive in Gillette next year to participate in the hands-on surgical portion of it.

Once with CCH, students will work anywhere from 16 to 30 weeks and be paid for 40 hours of work while enrolled in the program. Ideally, CCH would like to have five surgical techs and is utilizing PRN techs, scrub-trained registered nurses, in addition to contract staff, which Coleman said isn’t a viable long-term solution.

Though the current version of the partnership is slated to last for seven years, CCH has indicated that they would like to extend it beyond that period.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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