January 4, 2017
Tonya Bingham’s entire career has been dedicated to public service.
The director of Blinn College’s new Surgical Technology Program, Bingham spent 20 years in municipal government. It was while serving as a police officer that she realized she was searching for a new way to help people.
“I actually started taking college courses because I needed them to advance my career, but once I started taking the courses I realized that I wanted a change,” Bingham said. “I knew I wanted to go into healthcare, but I wasn’t certain which field, so I started doing research into radiologic technology, surgical technology, and nursing.”
Ultimately, she chose surgical technology, and earned her Associate of Arts before beginning her career at Arlington Memorial Hospital. As a surgical technologist, Bingham was an integral part of the surgical team, helping prep for and assist during surgery. In addition to preparing the operating room for surgery, surgical technologists sterilize and manage equipment, ready patients for surgery, and assist surgeons during the surgery by passing them instruments and other sterile supplies.
“I like the one-on-one patient care,” Bingham said. “The surgical teams are very close most of the time, and it’s a great experience. How many people can say they held a heart in their hand while the surgeon sewed a blood vessel to it? The patient will never know who I am, but I helped this patient, and that’s what this career is all about.”
After more than a year at Arlington Memorial, Bingham took a job as a travel surgical technologist, providing temporary assistance for hospitals in Minnesota, Maine, Colorado, and New Mexico.
“It was a lot of fun, and a great way to see parts of the country that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise,” she said.
After two years as a travel surgical technologist, Bingham changed careers once again – this time teaching students the trade, first as the program director at MedVance Institute, then at Horry-Georgetown (S.C.) Technical College, Cisco College, and New Mexico State University-Carlsbad.
Now, Bingham is launching Blinn’s Surgical Technology Program, which will help to meet the growing demand for surgical technologists in the Brazos Valley. The program builds upon Blinn’s longstanding tradition of providing Bryan/College Station and the Central Texas region with highly trained healthcare and emergency services personnel.
Students who enroll in the program will enjoy the security of knowing the field offers employment opportunities not only locally, but nation-wide. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for surgical technologists is expected to increase 15 percent between 2014 and 2024, creating 14,700 new jobs during that span. Nation-wide, the median wage is $44,330. Texas has the highest demand for surgical technologists, with Houston and Dallas ranking among the national leaders.
Through Blinn’s Surgical Technology Program, students can earn a 41-credit hour Surgical Technology Certificate, which includes 12 hours of prerequisite courses. Students must successfully complete BIOL 2401: Anatomy and Physiology I, HITT 1305: Medical Terminology I, BIOL 2402: Anatomy and Physiology II, and BIOL 2420: Microbiology for Non-Science Majors prior to enrolling in the program.
Once enrolled, students can earn their certificate in just three semesters. Courses include Introduction to Surgical Technology, Fundamentals of Perioperative Concepts and Techniques, Pharmacology for Health Professions, Surgical Procedures I and II, and Professional Readiness. Each semester includes hands-on clinical experience, and students must complete 120 surgical cases across a variety of surgical specialties prior to graduation.
Surgical technologists often work in hospitals, but can work in any setting that conducts surgical procedures, including doctor’s offices and dental offices. Blinn’s Surgical Technology Program can also provide a launching pad to other healthcare careers.
“If a student wants to become a veterinary technologist, or a nurse, or a radiologic technologist, this gives them a great foundation for that,” Bingham said.
For more information regarding Blinn’s Surgical Technology Program, please visit www.blinn.edu/surgical-technology/index.html.