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Howard Community College Announces Launch of Surgical Technician Apprenticeship

New Program Creates Promising Opportunity for Students and Pipeline for New Talent for Local Hospitals

Howard Community College (HCC) has announced the launch of a new surgical technician apprenticeship program designed to give aspiring healthcare professionals the foundational knowledge and skills needed to work in a hospital operating room environment. At the same time, the new apprenticeship creates a pipeline for the recruitment and retention of new talent for local hospitals.

Surgical technician apprentices will complete a series of courses at HCC and will work full time at local hospitals as entry-level surgical assistants. Key roles and responsibilities include operating room set up, preparation and transport of surgical patients, and clinical assistance during surgical cases, working in collaboration with surgeons and nurses. Surgical technicians play an important role in assuring surgical cases are streamlined and efficient. They adjust lighting and operating room equipment prior to and during cases, secure and hand off surgical instrumentation, position and hold retractors, cut sutures, and take inventory of supplies prior to and at the closure of operative cases.

“We are incredibly excited about the opportunities this program presents for both our students as well as our local healthcare employer partners,” said Jeff Richmond, director of apprenticeship and workforce innovation at HCC. “It gives those with a desire to work in a fast-paced and productive clinical environment a solid and fulfilling point-of-entry. Apprentices will learn the skills needed to support surgical care before, during, and after cases, and they will progressively expand their skills over time. This program also gives local hospitals a new avenue to recruit and retain skilled and committed employees, as part of their workforce development efforts.”

HCC is launching its surgical technician apprenticeship with two established healthcare partners: University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and Howard County General Hospital (HCGH). They will fund their apprentice’s college tuition and fees, while offering each a paid, entry-level position. Apprentice wages increase progressively, commensurate with their academic studies and on-the-job clinical experience.

Representatives from UMMC and HCGH will collaborate closely with HCC in the coming months to interview and choose surgical technician apprentices, and will welcome their first cohorts of students to their operating rooms in November 2022. UMMC plans to recruit up to 12 HCC apprentices, while HCGH will begin its program with up to five apprentices.

“Surgical technicians play a critical role in the high-quality care we deliver to patients from across the state and the region,” said Bert W. O'Malley, MD, president and chief executive officer at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “We value this unique opportunity to partner with another anchor institution in Maryland to help ensure a highly-trained pipeline of health care professionals for the future.”

Leaders at HCGH offer similar perspective and enthusiasm, with the launch of HCC’s new apprenticeship opportunities.

“We value our partnership with Howard Community College and the door this program opens for us to fill a critical need within our surgical service line,” said Chelai Green, MHA, BSN, RN, senior director of perioperative services at Howard County General Hospital. “Our hospital is continuously in search of new talent, and this apprenticeship program gives us a new and very positive avenue to recruit individuals who are eager to learn about the operating room environment and be important contributors in the process of patient care. There is a wealth of opportunity for surgical technicians to grow and advance in their careers. This program creates a solid starting point, and we genuinely appreciate the opportunity to be part of it.”

HCC is in the process of constructing a brand-new skills lab on its Columbia campus, where surgical technician apprentices will be able to familiarize themselves with the complexities of the operating room environment, build and practice clinical skills, and participate in simulation training. The new lab is slated to open in November.

“Having this dynamic learning space on our campus is key, as it will give our surgical technician apprentices important exposure to the many complex facets of the surgical environment and will allow them to build skills and confidence, in a safe, practice-based setting,” said Richmond.

In the lab space, instructors will guide apprentices through a diverse listing of core competencies including: pre-operative care and preparation, where the focus is on medical supply inventory and sterilization procedures; perioperative care and preparation, with focus on safe and sterile preparation of the operating room, and documentation; intraoperative care and preparation, which involves supporting the needs of the surgeon and other clinical providers working on a surgical case, and managing diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment; and postoperative care and preparation, which includes facilitating end-of-procedure tasks.

Over the past several years, HCC has built a comprehensive apprenticeship program, with “earn-while-you-learn” opportunities available for students with wide range of career interests. In addition to the surgical technician program, the college has apprenticeship programs in the fields of biomedical engineering technology, construction management, electrical, HVACR, plumbing, information technology, and software development.

For more information about this apprenticeship, email


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