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College to offer new surgical technology degree fall 2022

A surgical technologist assisting in the operating room

The new associate of applied science in surgical technology degree program at WVU Potomac State College is currently enrolling its first cohort of students for the fall 2022 semester and will train students with skills in high demand to become an essential part of the surgical team.

 “Potomac State’s new surgical technology degree program will not only help provide WVU Medicine’s local Potomac Valley and Garrett hospitals with skilled surgical technologists but also other facilities throughout the tri-state region such as Grant Memorial Hospital and the state at large with a permanent solution to fill this highly in-demand field, which is not yet a well-known career choice,” said Elaine Geroski, vice president of nursing/chief nursing officer for Potomac Valley Hospital.

Students who possess strong organizational skills, are adept with instrumentation and tools and have an interest in direct patient healthcare should consider a career in the quickly growing field of surgical technology.

This degree opportunity came to fruition as the result of a request from WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital who has had a continual need for this skill set and up until now has trained individuals in-house.

WVU Medicine will serve as sites for clinicals, which are inclusive of the curriculum. Both PVH and Garrett Hospitals are donating equipment to the mock operating room, which will be in Catamount Place along with classrooms.

“This two-year program provides students with hands-on experience and conceptual knowledge of assisting surgeons during various surgical procedures,” said Vicki Huffman, biology professor at Potomac State College who helped create the program. “Students obtain experience in the hospital setting throughout the course of the program.”

“Our program will prepare students to become surgical technologists who are ready to enter the workforce upon graduation,” said Greg Ochoa, PSC Academic Dean. The program is currently undergoing the accreditation process through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Students will then be eligible to sit for the Certified Surgical Technologist certification exam granted by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. “However, the certification will not be required for employment,” Dean Ochoa explained.

Graduates will have a variety of duties in the surgical suite, assisting in operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses or other surgical personnel. They will have the skills to set up operating rooms, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, and pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgical assistants.

Additionally, graduates will apply ethics, professionalism and good decision-making skills to prepare and participate in surgical procedures. They will also utilize communication techniques appropriate to the surgical environment.

 “The AAS degree in surgical technology directly meets the land-grant mission of the University by specifically addressing ‘healthcare and prosperity for all by providing access and opportunity,’” Campus President Jennifer Orlikoff said. “This degree will help provide graduates entering the workforce to meet the needs within hospitals in West Virginia and surrounding states.”

Within West Virginia and a 180-mile radius, the healthcare industry employs 6,853 surgical technologists, according to JobsEQ, a resource that provides timely data on local workforce and employers. This resource also states that within the next 10 years, 5,090 additional new workers in this occupation will be needed for this industry.

Additionally, JobsEQ reports that the average (mean) annual wage for surgical technologists was $47,800 within West Virginia and 180-mile radius as of 2018.

“Potomac State College’s surgical technology program will provide a great career path for those who desire to work in an operating room entry-level position that could also lead to more extensive education and training required of nurses or even physicians,” said Mark Boucot, president and CEO of WVU Medicine PVH.

To learn more about Potomac State College’s new surgical technology degree program, visit: