By Crystal Warner, CST, CSA, KCSA, FAST

For students, entering a surgical technology or surgical assisting program can mark the start of a high-stress, high-reward career path. The need to balance studies with outside responsibilities, such as family and jobs, can be overwhelming. At times, such demands are enough to cause students to leave their programs.   

While a number of factors can cause low retention rates (some outside a program’s control), it’s important for instructors to be proactive. Instructors should meet students halfway and ensure they are taking the right steps to provide the tools and support students need to succeed, as well as create a environment students will want to enroll in and return to. If your program is having difficulty with retention rates, consider these ideas.

During the Enrollment Process

  • Informational Sessions: Schedule sessions for the public that will showcase the surgical technology program prior to enrollment. Discuss what a surgical technologist does, job opportunities and curriculum requirements.
  • Pre-admission testing: Additional testing for surgical technology applicants may be helpful in determining a potential student’s ability to be successful with the didactic portion of the program. Two popular tests are the TEAS test and the HESI. You may also consider a manual dexterity test, personality test, and a test for memory recall. Keep in mind, pre-admission testing must be d