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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Surgical Tech students from SJVC Rancho Cordova campus among top scores on certification exam

April 23, 2020
Students in Scrubs In an Operating Room

As the first Surgical Technology class on SJVC’s Rancho Cordova’s campus to sit for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam, this program’s twelve recent grads had a lot to prove. Having just completed their program requirements and poised to take their place in their chosen field, they were determined to demonstrate their readiness and worthiness by earning this important certification.

All twelve graduates succeeded and gave their program and college the distinction of a 100% pass rate.

It did not come easy. Surgical Technology (ST) students and faculty members drilled for hours on four separate occasions to ensure readiness for this intimidating exam. One hundred seventy-five questions, representing a good cross-section of all they had learned over the Surgical Technology program, would test their memories, retention and professional readiness before they could assume their place in the Surgical Care world.

“The industry counts on this exam, and more hospitals are starting to require certification for new-hire Surgical Technologists,” says Lois Wilkening, Surgical Technology Clinical Coordinator. “Certification is something the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) is pushing for and as we (SJVC’s ST program) become more recognized in our field we want our graduates to meet that standard.”

CST exam preparation consisted of four 4-hour study sessions held online and one 6-hour session the day before the exam. Quizzes covered such subjects as Medical Terminology, Anatomy, Pre-Op Practices, Intra-Operative Procedures, Post-Op procedures and other areas of study and practice. “Our preparation used the same layout and format as the actual exam,” says Lois.

“We drilled our students on learning the format of a question, as the wording can sometimes misdirect you toward a wrong answer,” she explains. To put students in real-life test-taking mode, Surgical Technology program faculty and students competed in timed exercise games.

“They made us look really bad,” Lois laughs. “They were on fire!”  The three faculty members finished in the last three places of the friendly quiz games. “We were getting the questions right, but in terms of response time, the students outpaced us. They knew the answers before they even saw the answer options.”

Josephine Williams Cody, Surgical Technology Program Director and Dwight Sneed rounded out the faculty team. They may have been beaten at their own game, but they were also immensely proud of their ST students, who proved themselves ready to launch careers in their chosen field.

Within days of taking the exam each student got a call letting them know they had passed. “There were squeals,” says Lois. “One student almost jumped through the phone. Her offer of employment depended on her passing the exam.”

“We have really put in the work as a team to get this awesome outcome from our graduates,” says Cody. “To be successful, one has to decide what you want and where you want to go. Set a deadline and make a plan to get there. Do something every day to move toward your goal. Resolve that you will persist and never, ever give up.”

A new class of eighteen Surgical Technology program students has already started. They will have big shoes to fill when it is their turn to pass this milestone of achievement. But there is a team of support and encouragement in place that will help to ensure their success.

These Surgical Technology graduates have set the bar high for all those who follow. The Rancho Cordova campus is pleased to recognize those graduates who earned the high distinction of their field’s certification:

Alexis Babbes

Andrea Smith

Anita Sokalskiy

Ariadna-Ali Astorga

Blanca Marin

Chanel Pugh

Cheryl Hale

Jessica Russell

Kaitlyn Nguyen

Kimberly Rowland

Michelle Casarrubias

Viktoriya Chernioglo

Learn More About Surgical Technology

What does a Surgical Technologist do and how can you become one? Find out by checking out our guide on Surgical Technology.

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