By Amy Broussard, AAS, CHL, CSFA, CRCST, CST, FAST, and Eboni Saurage, EdD, CST, FAST

The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) held its 52nd Surgical Technology Conference in New Orleans, LA, on June 3-5, 2022. The conference drew more than 1,200 enthusiastic active and associate members which included many educators, students and recent graduates. We reached out to learn how this event impacted a few members who attended for the first time.

Leaders from the Louisiana State Assembly of AST (LSA-AST) shared their passion for the profession with student members by sponsoring a team of students and a student liaison to attend the AST National Conference and participate in the AST-Student Association Student Forum and compete in the Scrub Bowl. This year, Megan Monteith, Kylie Alonzo, Caitrin Friend and Kateryn Bacon from SOWELA Technical Community College in Jennings, LA, were the student representatives for the LSA-AST. They were accompanied by student liaison Emily Hiestand, a 2021 Baton Rouge Community College graduate out of Baton Rouge, LA, appointed by the LSA-AST to guide students and ensure they did not get lost in the crowd.

Hiestand focused on helping the students understand the why behind what they were being taught and the importance of trusting the process. She said that having the opportunity to get students excited for their future and education as surgical technologists was her most memorable moment from the event., As a first-time attendee, Hiestand shared that attending the AST Surgical Technology Conference was incredibly beneficial to her career because it helped her “connect with others who are passionate about surgical technology” and helped her “find ways to stay involved and engaged in the profession outside of the hospital.”

The LSA-AST students representatives agreed that attending an event of this magnitude at such an early point in their professional careers was important. They enjoyed the presentations and networking with their fellow students from around the country, and especially appreciated the support of the professionals in attendance. Students Alonzo and Friend noted that their favorite session was by Katie Noyce, a member of the AST Board of Directors. Noyce spoke to the pathway leading to surgical first assistant which expanded students’ outlook on future career goals.

[Pictured L-R: ARC/STSA Executive Director, Ron Kruzel; ARC/STSA Board member Karyn Songer; SOWELA Students Megan Monteith, Caitrin Friend, and Katheryn Bacon; and ARC/STSA Board member Eboni Saurage (not pictured: Kylie Alonzo]

While at the conference, we also met another first-time attendee who seemed to become an instant celebrity as the youngest CST attendee and national delegate for the Utah State Assembly of AST. Marshall Granzin is a 2021 graduate from Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) in West Jordan, Utah, and is a practicing certified surgical technologist at 19 years old. Word about Granzin spread at the conference, inspiring the hashtag trend #HaveYouMetMarshall.  Everyone wanted to learn more about Granzin, so we knew we had to reach out to this rising star to find out his story and ask about his conference experience.

Granzin admitted that he did not know what he was getting into when he was first introduced to surgical technology during a high school field trip to his local community college., After learning more about it, he enrolled at SLCC and started his surgical technology program through dual enrollment courses at his high school.  He started his clinical rotation the summer he turned 18, and completed his Associate Degree in Surgical Technology in October 2021, just five short months after graduating from high school. In November 2021, he began his career as a Certified Surgical Technologist.

Curious about his journey, we first asked about what sparked his interest in the state assembly of AST. He told us he knew he needed to earn continuing education to maintain his certification so when he saw the state assembly workshop flier posted in his staff lounge, he said that he “simply showed up.” While at the workshop he had the chance to meet volunteers and leaders within the profession and when the invitation for delegates was announced, he raised his hand to volunteer. Granzin shared that though the sessions on spinal surgery were his favorite educational moment at the AST Conference, it was the inclusiveness among the leaders in the profession that was most memorable. He said that he appreciated the opportunity to meet so many passionate surgical technologists and begin building his network. Let’s be honest, we are looking forward to watching that network grow also.

[Pictured L-R: ARC/STSA Board member Eboni Saurage, Marshall Granzin, LSA-AST President Felicia McGhee]

As surgical technology educators we lead by example, and it is important to remember that we are planting the seeds which will grow into the future leaders of the surgical technology profession. With the help of our professional organization, we have an opportunity to help our students and recent graduates grow. We challenge everyone to reach out to your state assemblies of AST and invite them to meet your students.  Collaborate with others around you and introduce students to the importance of showing up.

Amy Broussard, AAS, CHL, CSFA, CRCST, CST, FAST, is the surgical technology program director at SOWELA Technical Community College in Jennings, Louisiana, and has been a Certified Surgical Technologist and Certified Surgical First Assistant for more than twenty years. She has been a practitioner in both the hospital setting and as a private assistant in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and has held many national and state positions for AST committees and the Louisiana State Assembly of AST. Broussard’s most rewarding endeavor has been her past ten years spent in surgical technology education.

Eboni Saurage, EdD, CST, FAST, is a surgical technology educator with over 15 years of experience as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), and is currently an assistant professor and director of the surgical technology and sterile processing programs at Baton Rouge Community College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Saurage serves her profession as Vice President of the Louisiana State Assembly of the Association of Surgical Technologists, Vice Chair of the United States Chapter of The Operating Room Global (TORG) and on the ARC/STSA Board of Directors representing the Association of Surgical Technologists. Her passion for advancing safe perioperative patient care through fundamental and continuing education has driven her to also serve on numerous regional, state, and national committees for surgical technology and education. Dr. Saurage’s current interests include reflective practice, leadership development, and Interprofessional Education and Simulation in Healthcare.