Carrington College Graduate Pursued a New Career in Surgical Technology
There are multiple reasons why people decide to pursue a new career. Often it is a keen interest in a subject. It could also be increasing responsibilities in life that make it so they need a higher income. For some, like Jose Campos, it could be a combination of the two, plus family tradition. Jose grew up in the beautiful Salinas Valley of California in a family with several members who work in the medical field.
“One cousin is going to school to be a PA. Another is a hygienist. A couple of other ones are medical assistants. I’m the only one who went into the operating room. It’s fast-paced and gets a little hectic but it well worth it,” he said.
Jose entered the medical field in December of 2012 when he was in his very early twenties as a medical assistant in a private gastroenterology practice that focused on colonoscopies and endoscopies. Eventually, he became an endoscopy technician and started working at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. By late 2018, Jose had been working in health care for six years and was in his mid-twenties. He also knew that he would be a father soon.
He had always wanted to become a Surgical Technologist (ST), but never felt like he had the budget or the time to go to school to become one. With a baby girl on the way and an employer who was willing to accommodate his school schedule, Jose realized then that he no longer could afford to put his dream on hold. So, he enrolled in Carrington’s Surgical Technology program at the San Jose campus. Jose said, “I’ve reached the limit with endoscopy.”
Surgical technologists play a vital role in every surgery that is performed in our country today. They are the first people to put on personal protective gear and enter the operating room (OR) where they set up and prepare it for surgery. That is where they count, sterilize, arrange, and conveniently display all of the equipment and instruments the surgeon will need. They also help with gowning, medication, and passing instruments to the surgeon while maintaining the sterility of the OR during surgery. They need to pay close attention to and count all of the equipment and instruments before the surgeon closes the incision to be sure nothing is missing and left behind inside the patient. As the surgery finishes, STs may assist with cutting sutures and bandaging. When the patient awaits transition to the recovery ward, they continue to maintain a sterile environment and dispose of used gauze, needles, and other items.
The Carrington Surgical Technology certificate program is comprehensive and can be completed in as few as 15 months. He was able to work about 6 hours in the morning, head to class for noon, and then see his newborn daughter after school. The schedule was rigorous, but it worked well for him.
During Jose’s externship through Monterey Peninsula Surgery Centers, he gained experience in a variety of surgical specialties while impressing surgical staff and Daniel Salimone, Surgical Technology Instructor and Clinical Coordinator at Carrington College San Jose.
He said, “I witnessed the growth of Jose in not only the classroom but also in the field during the externship. His clinical site was always very complimentary of his weekly performance and his professional attitude. In fact, they offered him a position with their company and wish to train further Carrington Surgical Technology students because of his performance. It is especially noteworthy since Jose was trained at 5 different locations that are part of their company. This is difficult enough as an experienced employee, but to do so as a student is phenomenal! It has been a pleasure teaching him.”
Jose particularly enjoyed plastic and orthopedic surgeries and said, “seeing everything they do is very interesting to me… It is amazing what they can do with plastic surgery… and in orthopedic, they use power tools!” He also thinks other STs must try different specialties and medical settings along the way to figure out what they like and what setting works best for them.
“It varies at each place, depending on what they do–whether it’s a hospital, surgery center, or somewhere that specializes just in plastics. As a student, it’s important to get your feet wet and try different specialties to see what you like,” he said.
Carrington students like Jose must complete 120 surgical cases in a variety of surgical specialties during the externship portion of their last term of the program. These specialties often include OB/Gyn, orthopedics, urology, plastics, and ear, nose, and throat. It can be difficult, though not unheard of, for them to get experience in transplant, ophthalmology, or cardiovascular because those specialties tend to operate “tight teams,” according to Salimone.
Jose graduated in April 2020 and is continuing to work at Natividad Medical Center, a level two trauma center, where he became an ST in July 2020.
When asked if he plans on sticking with ST, he says, “It feels like this is the one. I’m going to stay with this one for a very long time. I can see eventually maybe becoming a Surgical First Assistant, but I already have better job security now. I have more options, more doors.” And he is very clear about his purpose in health care, “We are there as part of a team to make a difference in a patient’s life.”