Mel Angelisanti, AA, AAS, CSFA, CST

By Mel Angelisanti, AA, AAS, CSFA, CST, Program Chair, Surgical Technology, Central Piedmont Community College

Surgical technologists and surgical assistants who answer the call to be educators are not always trained as such. We come as skilled practitioners who have dedicated years to perfecting our craft, ensuring each surgical procedure runs as smoothly as a philharmonic symphony. As educators, we all strive to bring that same passion, effort and dedication to the instruction of our students.

While our accreditors and typically institutions require this specialized training, we do not have to wait to have these resources provided. We can be proactive in seeking resources, courses and mentors that can shape us into master educators.

For many, educational institutions have trainings that can help us become better educators. If you are at an institution that does not have this resource, reach out to instructors within your institution, outside your practice area. They can be incredible mentors to help you develop your trade.

As a new educator transitioning from the operating room to a classroom, I probably learned more doing something incorrectly than correctly. In the end, my students paid the expense. During my third year of teaching, I was fortunate to have an incredible supervisor who served as a mentor and helped me identify classes focused on education.

One of the best trainings I completed was “How to Engage Online Learners.” The course emphasized different activities and structures that can be implemented online to foster and enhance students’ engagement with their peers and instructors. Techniques included collaborative activities, phased lessons that built on one another and virtual conversation sessions instead of lecture — all providing students an opportunity to actively engage.

In light of the pandemic, I am grateful that my institution offered this course. When our school announced the transition to fully online courses, my colleagues were apprehensive. Having previously completed a course on the topic, I was prepared to help my coworkers and students make a successful, meaningful shift.

As practitioners, we have taken it upon ourselves to hone our surgical practice by completing continuing education specific to the surgical environment to provide the best possible outcomes to our patients. Similarly, as educators, we should continually and proactively seek to complete  continuing education with an emphasis on educational modalities, tools, tips and techniques that will benefit our students.

Being an educator has similarities to being a surgical technologist or surgical assistant. You have your flow, rhythm and unique way of doing your job. But that took  time, practice and the occasional helping hand. For newly transitioned educators, seeking  resources, training, classes and mentors will further develop your skills in the classroom. That same flow, rhythm and unique way of teaching will come once you feel comfortable in your role.

Accreditation Stress? ARC/STSA is here to help. Our new education initiative, coming this fall, is designed to provide learning opportunities to sharpen your knowledge on accreditation compliance, student engagement and so much more.

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