Your new career starts with a world-class instructor, curriculum and classroom
Want to learn from the best in surgical technology? Well, you can’t do better than program director, Nicole Claussen. She wrote the book on surgical technology—literally—as consulting editor on Surgical Tech Principle and Practice 7th edition. As she likes to joke, “You can’t fool me, I wrote the book.”
Joking aside, Nicole is at the top of the field in surgical technology education. She is a recent recipient of the Guiding Star Constellation Award from the Foundation for Surgical Technology, an award designated for surgical technology educators with over 15 years of experience in the field. In addition, Nicole is among a select group of FAST Fellows, the highest designation from the Association of Surgical Technologists, and has been named one of the top instructors in the nation by Medical Technology Schools.
Scalpel please… cutting edge instruction
The top-notch instruction goes hand-in-hand with a state-of-the-art program that can be as short as two semesters, with close-knit classes of 18 students all working together to hone their skills and prepare for the national certification exam. To prepare students for the operating room, the labs at Kirtland Community College feature the latest in higher education simulators—classrooms and labs where students cut into dummy patients with fake blood vessels, simulate clamping, cutting and suturing, and learn aseptic technique skills, all under the caring one-on-one instruction of faculty.
For coursework, the program is fully integrated with technology, and each student receives an iPad. With digital textbooks and interactive learning, students can take their studies anywhere, making it more convenient to strike a balance between college and life. As Nicole puts it, “Our students can take their iPad to their kid’s soccer game and study on a free app.”
When course and lab work are complete, students head to internships in a real-world learning environment where they’re required to complete 120 operating room cases to graduate, in everything from OBGYN to eyes and ears to heart, so they’re ready to get their hands dirty in the workplace.
Never a dull moment
And get their hands dirty they will. Surgical technology is a hands-on field for people who enjoy being in the action and don’t mind a little blood and guts, to put it bluntly. As Nicole says, “You might be retracting a heart with one hand while passing instruments to a surgeon with the other one.” Surgical technologists need thick skin and a good sense of humor. The operating room is a controlled atmosphere, but there’s no getting around the reality of cutting into a human body or dealing with a trauma case.
It’s that unpredictable nature of the field that keeps people on their toes and makes the workday so fun and interesting. Between the diversity of cases in a single day—tubes, tonsils, total knees—and the unique working relationships between doctors and staff, there’s always something to look forward to. “At the end of the day,” Nicole says, “you get to feel good about helping people.”
Career and volunteer opportunities
With job opportunities available throughout northern Michigan, most Kirtland graduates settle in careers close to home. For those who want to relocate for work, Kirtland graduates find lucrative careers in places like Ann Arbor, Chicago and beyond. There’s always room for career advancement and continuing education in the field.
In fact, Nicole has been involved in multiple service trips to places like India, where she helped start a surgical technology program, and to Kenya, where she did surgical technology work in an orphanage. During her time working in Africa she helped perform life-saving and life-changing surgeries, to put orphans and otherwise disadvantaged people back on their feet, and to become thriving members of their communities.
The experience was so rewarding that she’s now working with the Kirtland Foundation to bring students and Kirtland alumni abroad to share in the experience. It’s just one more way Nicole is committed to education and ensuring Kirtland grads are among the best in the business.
Are you ready to take the first step toward working in the operating room? Learn more about Surgical Technology at Kirtland Community College.