Contra Costa Medical Career College29 April 2016 Written by By Maria Duran Ruiz
Published in May 2016 Articles
I am director and instructor for the Surgical Technology Program at Antioch’s Contra Costa Medical Career College (CCMCC).
In October 2008, Stacey Orozco, CCMCC’s owner and director invited me to join the staff as director and instructor for the school’s Surgical Technology Program. In fact, Stacey initially contacted me when the Surgical Technology program was still in the idea stage. That put me on the ground floor of the program with the initial assignment of building the program that included a classroom, lab, and full operating theater. I set myself to developing curriculum, organizing class schedules, and creating teaching plans for both classrooms and labs.
From the beginning, I planned to give my students the things that I thought had been lacking during my own training. Stacey, who has awesome skills as a director, not only let me have free rein to take the program where I thought it should go, but she provided resources to ensure that I could actually get there. Both of us were committed to ensuring that we would be able to equip our students to launch into successful and fulfilling careers. It was a big challenge, but we pulled it off. The first class was January 2009. On August 1, 2014, our program became fully accredited by The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). That was a big milestone because our graduates can now sit for their National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) certification exam.
The exam is rigorous and difficult. However, 100 percent of our graduates passed the exam the first year they could take it. ABHES acclaimed the success with a Certificate of Merit, which was a gratifying acknowledgement of the high quality instruction our Surgical Program was providing. Stephen Vallerga is an instructor with me. Stephen has been in the Surgical Technology Industry for five years and has been teaching with me at CCMCC for three of them.
Stephen also works at San Joaquin Hospital. He was a graduate of my 2010 class and was an awesome student full of enthusiasm and knowledge. Stephen has a special rapport with students because he has gone through the same thing as they are going through. Our course is hard and can be stressful. However, Stephen can come alongside the students with such messages as, “If it were easy, anyone could do this, but I did it and you can too.”
Our students receive premium learning that fully prepares them to pursue a career in the burgeoning medical field. For one thing, we ensure personalized instruction by keeping our class size small. At this point, we have graduated only 80 students in the nine years we’ve offered the program.
The fact that we allow only a dozen or so students in each class means that they study and work side-by-side with each other from the first day of classes until graduation. There are no modules; everybody works on everything together. The small number also permits us instructors to work with each student individually. We are in the lab every day observing such processes as scrubbing and gowning, ensuring that students are building the right habits. We also carefully observe and provide real-time feedback while they do surgical setups and other mock procedures.
We’ve established relationships with a number of hospitals and medical centers in the area and are able to provide students with off campus learning experiences prior to their externships. For example, the Sutter Delta Labor & Delivery Department permits us to rotate our students through their facility so each student can scrub for one C-Section.
Brentwood Surgery provides facility tours for our students. San Joaquin General permits each student to do a day of shadowing. We have a great relationship with the Contra Costa County Sherriff’s Coroners Office, so students are able to view an autopsy during the Anatomy portion of their studies. We also bring outside resources onto campus. Reps from various equipment vendors provide instrumentation and equipment demonstrations. Physician Assistants (PA’s) also come on campus to speak and present. In addition, students complete the entire classroom portion of their studies before we send them out for their externship.
As a result of all this learning and hands-on experience, by the time they go on their externships our students are thoroughly prepared for the experience. They look good to people in the field. We keep hearing comments and receiving feedback about how prepared our students are and how comfortable they appear to be in the operating environment. You can’t minimize the importance of this kind of reaction, because when students come to apply for a job, those first impressions are huge.
I’m in this for the long run. I love the job. Seeing students come into the program and quickly get launched on their own promising careers reminds me of how I got started and came to where I am now. For some people, the 37-week course at CCMCC offers an excellent alternative to the standard four-year baccalaureate degree at a university. Not only does it require a fraction of the expense and time commitment, nearly all of our graduates are assured of actually getting a job in their field. Some college mill-type schools have been driven out of business because of advertising wildly inflated statistics about the success their graduates have at actually getting a job. Graduates from law schools and universities often have difficulty finding work in their field. In contrast to that, job placement success for graduates of most of our classes is running at 100 percent.
Our students have an inside track at places where I worked and that are staffed by people in my personal network including Stanford Hospital and other surgical centers including Brentwood, Aspen, and Sequoia Surgery Pavilion. Our graduates who apply at San Joaquin General have a natural boost by the fact that Stephen is on staff there. We are also highly successful in placing students in Kaiser Permanente centers plus Sutter Health and John Muir.
Student success is our main goal. Stephen and I are committed to the success of each of our students from the first day they show up in class to the first day they report for work in their new job. As they prepare to graduate, I begin to recommend them for positions they could interview for, critique their resumé, coach them on interview skills, prep them for what they will encounter in the interview and application process. The help that Stephen and I provide at this point is personalized and specific to each graduate. We not only know where the available job placement opportunities are, we know the working environment and culture at those places. This enables us to recommend positions that we know will be especially suited to a particular student’s own gifts and personality.
We love it when one of our graduates comes by for a visit and will often invite them to make a brief presentation to the class. Our students are encouraged by the enthusiasm the graduates show — the gratitude they express for the training they received and the fulfilling career paths that we were able to put them on.
To make the CCMCC story even better, we are offering premium education and professional placement opportunities at a deep discount. Our tuition and fees are only half of what students might pay at another institution.
Occasionally, you find that something is seemingly too good to be true, but later learn that it is true after all. That’s CCMCC! Check us out.