Ron Kruzel, MA, CAE, CST

With the onset of fall 2020, our surgical technology and surgical assisting program communities continue to adjust to the reality of providing education in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Didactic, lab and clinical coursework has begun with the fall term, albeit much differently than the fall of 2019. What has not changed are the students entering their programs, enthusiastic and idealistic, and wanting to make a difference in a healthcare environment unlike any other. They are excited to be starting this new chapter in their lives. The fall semester was my favorite when I was in the classroom — it gave me the opportunity to shape future surgical technologists early in their education and to embrace their enthusiasm as if it were my own.

Despite this year’s challenges, there is positivity. Recent data collected by the ARC/STSA indicates fall enrollments are stable, didactic and lab coursework is underway, and clinical opportunities are available for the vast majority of programs and students. Thank you to all of you who participated in this data collection. Rest assured, ARC/STSA plans continued outreach to our community as a whole, and know that we are just a telephone call (or e-mail) away for your individual concerns. Reach out to me directly at

The fall meeting of the ARC/STSA Board of Directors took place virtually the second weekend in September. In addition to accreditation reviews, the directors discussed a number of items related to COVID-19 response and accommodations. The board took the following actions:

  • Approved extending early graduation criteria to December 31, 2020
  • Approved the Virtual Site Visit Policy for programs applying for initial accreditation, beginning in fall 2020
  • Discussed implementation of virtual site visits for programs in continuing accreditation status, beginning in 2021
  • Discussed document submission criteria for programs maintaining remote or online didactic education post-pandemic
  • Reviewed and assessed COVID-19 survey data related to clinical disruption

Other agenda items included the transition to the Associate Degree as the minimum degree for graduates of CAAHEP accredited surgical technology programs, future review of the surgical technology and surgical assisting Standards and the 2020/2021 annual reporting process. ARC/STSA will continue to update our community on these and other items as we move into the final months of 2020. Even with the realignment of resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the ARC/STSA is moving forward with a number of organizational initiatives, as well. A completely revised and streamlined Annual Reporting process awaits our programs in 2021, upgrades to office IT systems have occurred and we are making progress on acquisition of an Accreditation Management Solution (AMS) that will provide real-time access and data for our program community. A newly revised ARC/STSA website ( launched in mid-August and Education & Accreditation Resource, LLC (EdAccred) is rapidly moving forward with consultative and educational services. While the challenges of 2020 are not yet behind us, in time they most certainly will be. All of us here at the ARC/STSA look forward to our continued work with you, the opportunity to meet again, and to the success of your students and graduates. We are stronger together.

Best always,



Recent data collected by the ARC/STSA indicates a positive outlook for programs this fall. Here’s a snapshot of the data we found, based on a survey sent to programs in September of this year.