Surgical Technician
USMD Hospital at Arlington

“I thought I wanted to go into nursing — my wife is a nurse, but I’ve never seen her at work. Then I was a secretary in a hospital, and I saw how hard the nurses work. I still wanted to do something in a medical field, and I enjoy working with my hands and fixing things; when I found out about the Surgical Technologist program it just seemed like something I would enjoy.

“I was interested in a job in a medical area but definitely not a desk job. One of my wife’s co-workers, who was a certified nurse assistant, went through the Surgical Technologist program at El Centro. She told me about their program’s reputation and actually took me to the OR and told me what surgical technologists do before I ever enrolled in the program myself. I got a really good idea of what I’d be getting into, and I was pretty sure I’d like it. And I have.

“The best part of the program was how qualified the instructors are, like Belinda Allen. They’re actually operating room nurses, so they not only understand the theory of what you’re studying but also have a totally practical standpoint. I also like the length of the clinicals. I’ve heard about other schools that only do practical labs with a couple of weeks of clinicals, and you can’t really adapt to a real job with that little experience.

“By the time we graduate, we’ve had clinicals from August to July — almost a whole year — and we’ve really learned all of the procedures well, plus a lot of things you can’t take from just books. We’ve also learned how to deal with doctors and other staff.

“This is an exciting job. Even though you may stand for hours, it’s dynamic, and you never do the same thing any two days in a row. It keeps your mind thinking. And it’s gratifying to see the results — you can see that so many people are better right away after surgery.”

Virgilio Fernando earned a Surgical Technologist certificate in July 2008 and has worked in his current position since August 2008. As a surgical technologist, he assists physicians who are performing surgery, including the hospital’s robotic surgery bays for prostate surgery and hysterectomies.