DuBOIS — Officials from Mount Aloysius and Penn Highlands Healthcare in DuBois, on Monday, announced a new opportunity to pursue a career in surgical technology, providing incoming students with up to $44,000 in educational funding, hiring incentives and guaranteed employment at any Penn Highlands Healthcare hospital.
The two-year program will feature a mix of online and in-person classes at Penn Highlands DuBois.
Mount Aloysius College will offer a $14,000 scholarship to all incoming surgical technology students in the DuBois-based program. Students are also eligible for up to $15,000 in educational funding from Penn Highlands Healthcare while enrolled, and up to $15,000 in signing bonuses upon hiring at Penn Highlands Healthcare.
“Our mission is to meet the needs of our community with quality programs of education,” said John McKeegan, president of Mount Aloysius College. “Penn Highlands Healthcare has expressed the need for surgical technologists, and through this collaboration, we will provide students a stellar education at very little cost.”
The surgical technology degree and career path Mount Aloysius launched in DuBois Monday is a prime example of this mission in action, said McKeegan.
“We are addressing a real community need, the shortage of surgical technologists in our area, and also meeting individual needs by offering an incredibly affordable high quality education for high school graduates and adult learners; anyone looking for a new future and a great career in the DuBois region,” McKeegan said. “Our surgical technology program celebrates its 40th birthday this year at the Mount. In this time, we have sent hundreds of skilled professional surg techs into the local workforce. By bringing this established program to Penn Highlands DuBois, a whole new group of students will have full access to this field and a learning opportunity in an advanced and excellent hospital.”
McKeegan said he is thankful for PHH’s continued partnership with Mt. Aloysius.
“Our radiography program continues to thrive here at DuBois and on our campus, and we are beyond excited to now be able to expand our work together to include surgical technology,” said McKeegan.
McKeegan also thanked the Mount Aloysius team for their leadership initiative, including Mike Baker, senior vice president for administration and strategy, Dave Haschak, vice president for academic affairs, Chris Lovett, the academic Dean of the College, Amanda Minor, the department chair for the surgical technology department, Jake Yale, vice president for enrollment management, and Sam Wagner, associate vice president for marketing and communications.
“We are excited to create a professional pathway with Mount Aloysius College to create new educational opportunities and incentives for students seeking careers in surgical technology,” said Heather Franci, MBHA, BSN, RN, chief nursing officer for Penn Highlands Healthcare and service line director for The Heart Center, The Lung Center, Brain & Spine and Oncology Services. “Together our partnership will further the students’ education and training and provide them with a seamless transition as they provide care to our patients and communities.”
“We’re very excited to be here to announce this affiliation with Mount Aloysius College to offer new innovative surgical tech teaching program,” said John Sutika, chief executive officer for Penn Highlands DuBois. “Like most hospitals throughout country, we are experiencing a need for staff in this area. This affiliation and program will help tremendously. Penn Highlands DuBois continues to expand and grow. Our physicians and staff care for hundreds of thousands of patients from all over the region each year.”
Sutika said Penn Highlands DuBois has expanded its surgical services and specialties so patients don’t have to travel long distances for care.
“We’ve added neurosurgery for back and brain injuries and issues,” said Sutika. “We’ve invested in new surgical technology, such as a DaVinci robot for general surgery, gynecology and urology procedures. We were the first health system in the region to offer the Mako smart robot for hip and knee replacement at both Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Clearfield, and we are developing a bariatric surgery program.”
Sutika said this surgical technology program is not only good for patients.
“These new technologies and advanced services will be a perfect place for our surg tech students to learn, grow, and be prepared for exciting future with Penn Highlands,” said Sutika. “The partnership with DuBois area school system will provide a quality setting for these students to conduct their lab study. This is truly a win-win for everyone. Thank you to Heather Franci for leading this project here at Penn Highlands, a special thank you to all the folks from Mount Aloysius, and also thank you to the DuBois Area School District for their help.”
Minor said the surgical technologists are charged with assisting the surgeon in the operating room.
“We’re responsible for setting up the operating room, gathering the equipment, supplies, instrumentation needed for the surgery, setting up the operating room with the supplies, passing the instrumentation to the surgeon as procedures going on, holding retractors, suctioning … assisting the surgeon any way they deem necessary throughout the surgery as part of the operating room team,” said Minor.
The average starting salary for a surgical technician is $50,000, said Franci.
Penn Highlands Healthcare was officially formed on Sept. 30, 2011, and is comprised of seven hospitals – Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Clearfield, Penn Highlands DuBois, Penn Highlands Elk, Penn Highlands Huntingdon, Penn Highlands Mon Valley and Penn Highlands Tyrone that have served area communities for the past 100-plus years. Its business continuum also includes home care agencies, long-term care facilities and residential senior living communities.
Penn Highlands Healthcare has evolved into an organization with approximately 6,100-plus workers in 150-plus locations throughout 39 counties in Pennsylvania that include community medical buildings, outpatient facilities, surgery centers and physician practices.
Dating back to 1853, Mount Aloysius College is a private, not-for-profit institution located in Cresson, Pa. Mount Aloysius offers more than 70 majors and programs and has an 11-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
This initiative is available to students who are starting their surgical technologist education in fall 2022.