Delta's surgical assistant program is one of few across country - WNEM TV 5

Delta's surgical assistant program is one of few across country

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A Mid-Michigan college is training students to help doctors save lives in the operating room.

Delta College is one of the few in the nation to offer a surgical first assistant program. Surgical first assistants provide crucial help for what can be a long and strenuous procedure.

"I would never want to do anything else besides be in surgery," said Joanie Smith, program graduate.

Smith is a certified surgical technician and a surgical first assistant, which means she is in the operating room assisting with surgeries.

"The surgeon stands on one side of the patient and we stand usually on the opposite side of them and help retract tissue, like if there's a vessel we need to ligate, we'll tie for them," Smith said.

Before any of that was possible she had to go to school. As luck would have it, Delta was just starting to offer their first year of the program.

"The general surgery residency program left the area. So the surgeons actually needed help. So they came to us and asked us if we would start a surgical first assistant program," said Rebecca Hall, program coordinator.

She said even though it's only in its second year, the program is already accredited.

"CCAAHEP is the Commission on Allied Health Educational Programs, which kind of oversees the quality of your programs and it's important for us because now our students can sit for the certified surgical first assistant exam. Which is a national exam and allows them to work anywhere in the country," Hall said.

The surgical first assistant program is one of only 10 accredited programs across the nation. It is one of only two programs in the entire state, which is what Smith said changed her life.

"I think it's fantastic. Like it's the best thing that could happen to our community here," Smith said.

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