Agreement allows New Mexico State University in Alamogordo to offer associate degree in surgical technology

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FARMINGTON — A new agreement between San Juan College and New Mexico State University in Alamogordo will help train hospital staff in southern New Mexico.

The two schools have signed a memorandum of understanding that allows San Juan College to help NMSU administer courses for an associate degree in surgical technology, according to Teddy Farias, dean of the School of Health Sciences at San Juan College.

NMSU will provide the pre-requisite courses, and students will take online and lab courses in Alamogordo under the supervision of San Juan College, said Maxine Chapman, San Juan College surgical technology director.

Chapman said this is the first time the college has signed a memorandum of understanding to have its curriculum taught at another institution.

“NMSU-A reached out to me because they have such a need for surgical technologists,” Chapman said.

Becky Ross, director of the Allied Health programs at New Mexico State University in Alamogordo, said the program will help hospitals in Lincoln and Otero counties that struggle to keep surgical technologists on staff. She said hospitals in the region have to hire contract workers to fill the void, which costs extra money.

“This is going to fill a huge void and help our local hospitals bring in local people,” Ross said.

A surgical technologist works with surgeons to maintain a sterile operating room and prepare the room by setting up equipment.

Ross said partnering with San Juan College will help NMSU in Alamogordo establish a new health program. She added it would take a lot of time and money to develop a brand-new program and seek approval with the necessary accreditations.

The two schools have been working since the summer to get the program ready so students at NMSU in Alamogordo can begin to take the courses next summer.

Chapman said she is finishing up the online course components for the program, which include filming lessons for students to view.

An adjunct professor at NMSU in Alamogordo will be hired to conduct lab course, and Chapman will make regular visits to the program to check on students conducting clinical rotations at hospitals.

Students who graduate from NMSU in Alamogordo with an associate degree in surgical technology will receive their degrees from San Juan College because that is the college that holds the accreditations.

Ross said the process of establishing the new program with NMSU staff has been smooth.

“It’s been a real pleasure and honor to work with them,” Ross said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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