Forrest General Hospital, Pearl River Community College Partner to Expand Surgical Technology Program

Published 10:24 am Friday, December 9, 2022

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (December 5, 2022) Now in its 30th year, Pearl River Community College’s Surgical Technology Program is expanding in an effort to solve the shortage of healthcare professionals in the area. Forrest Health is excited to be partnering with PRCC in this endeavor.

“PRCC has graciously increased their capacity in the last three years from 20 students yearly to now 30 students each semester,” said Denise Jones-Lindley, director of Surgical Services at Forrest General Hospital. “Tammy Allhoff, the Clinical director of the Surgical Tech program, has been instrumental in growing the program to help meet the needs of area communities.” A new part-time instructor will make it possible to add the additional students to the program.

The Surgical Technology Program located on PRCC’s Forrest County campus, is a comprehensive program of study where students receive an in-depth practical knowledge and essential clinical education related to the Operating Room. In addition to the hospital OR, surgical technologists may be employed in Labor & Delivery, Central Sterile Processing departments, Supply/Purchasing, Outpatient Clinic, and Surgery facilities, sales representatives for medical product companies as well other career opportunities that may be available. Students who complete the one-year course of study, plus prerequisites, graduate with an associate’s degree.

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Surgical techs are valuable members of a surgical team who directly assist the surgeons and are under the supervision of surgeons and registered nurses. They perform hands-on tasks such as:

  • Preparing operating rooms by setting up surgical instruments and equipment
  • Passing sterile instruments, supplies to surgeons during surgical procedures
  • Maintaining a proper sterile field throughout the surgical process

Surgical techs are also in the middle of all surgeries controlling bleeding, placing implants, and urgently helping surgeons and patients in the Pine Belt area.

“This is a great opportunity for people in this area looking to advance their careers who are hands-on learners,” said Jones-Lindley.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about 9,600 openings for surgical assistants and technologists each year. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

According to Jones-Lindley, Forrest General is at a critical need because training has to be so specialized. In addition to school training, the hospital provides an additional three to six months of training after the completion of a certified training program in order to function independently.

Because of previous space limitations within the program, there were students on a waiting list. Those students have been notified of the program change and can begin the orientation process with the other 20 students who were slated to begin in January 2023. PRCC accepts students twice a year and start a program each August and January and is one of the more successful Allied Health programs at PRCC, with a job placement rate of 95 percent.

“Our hope is that the expansion of this program will simultaneously help more people in our area find a meaningful career and provide Forrest Health with more students to recruit,” said James David Collum, Ph.D., dean of PRCC’s Career and Technical Education FCC.

“I am very appreciative of PRCC’s team and their desire to work with Forrest General to help solve the shortage of healthcare professionals in our area,” said Steve Jackson, administrator.

Jones-Lindley echoes those sentiments. “I am very proud of the partnership FGH has with PRCC,” she said. “There is nothing like working with people who want to make a positive difference in our community. I appreciate the willingness of PRCC to expand the Surgical Tech program in the Pine Belt area.”

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