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Tech sharpens surgical assistant skills

Students using simulator to assist with laparoscopic surgery.
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 3:49 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Surgical Technology students in Knoxville are getting the first chance in Tennessee to use the latest simulator technology to practice helping with laparoscopic surgery. Tennessee School of Applied Technology Knoxville or TCAT, invested $50,000 in the new LAPSIM machine that lets students practice guiding a tiny camera inside a patient’s body, via technology to simulate the entire process.

Surgical Technology Program Director Abby Jedlicka said this is a great way to get more techs trained to help with with minimally invasive surgery. “It has become an instrumental method in all surgery today. Prior to getting the LAP SIM simulator we used very rudimentary and very fundamental tools in order to teach the students how to operate and navigate a laparoscopic camera.”

Students who complete the one-year program at TCAT have a %90 to %100 chance of being matched with a job, according to Jedlicka. The demand is high for this specialist assistant whose job is to handle the camera while a surgeon works. The simulator allows one person to mimic the work of a surgeon while the other practices running the camera to guide surgical work.

Among students choosing to earn their certification as a surgical technologist is Raven Kelso, who said it’s been a decade since high school and she’s ready for a new career. “And I went for it. And now I’m here in the surgical technology program.” Kelso said she loves the hands-on work she can do in the classroom. “More hands on. I makes it feel more realistic.”

Student James Stanley is just a couple of years behind high school and is ready to earn his certificate. Training includes book work, classroom training plus time in a hospital setting.

“We’re getting ready to start clinicals in September, so I’m feeling pretty good about it,” said Stanley.

Jedlicka said this is a big improvement over teaching students before the simulator, “That will set them apart from other students at other colleges.”

TCAT offers a variety of medical and other technical certification programs that can lead directly to a job. Financial aid may also be available.

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