HARLINGEN, Texas – Texas State Technical College Surgical Technology alumna Rebecca Vargas recalls when she accepted a full-time job from Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen earlier this year.
Since beginning her career in August, Vargas has proved herself as a surgical technologist by utilizing the hands-on technical skills she gained while studying at TSTC.
“The fast-paced experience in an operating room is worth it when we are trying to save a patient’s life,” she said. “I have been successful by using the hands-on skills that I learned at TSTC. Some of those are how to drape a patient, how to set up a table for surgery and how to pass surgical instruments.”
Vargas said planning for a surgery is crucial.
“Communication with your team is key, especially knowing what type of situation you’re going into and what the surgical procedures are,” she said. “I felt confident on my first day on the job. I was able to run the table with help from the medical team I work with. Now I can do some cases by myself. I’m motivated to learn more so I can help more patients.”
She said the team of medical professionals collaborate for surgeries.
“They help me by explaining what we will need for a surgery, and how to use certain medical equipment,” she said. “They explain the outcome of a surgery and why certain techniques were done for a procedure.”
Vargas shared some advice for the next cohort of Surgical Technology students who will graduate in December.
“Approach your new career day by day,” she said. “There is still a lot to learn. You may feel that you’re behind, but you’re not. There will be a team that will help you succeed, just like the instructors did at TSTC. My education gave me the opportunity to have a great-paying career and save patients’ lives.”
Marissa Gonzales, a TSTC Surgical Technology instructor, said Vargas’s leadership helped lead to her success at Valley Baptist Medical Center.
“Rebecca is great by focusing on what needs to be done and accomplished it,” she said.
Gonzales said Surgical Technology students are taught about the basic foundation of the work a technician is responsible for.
“The students will learn how to set up for various procedures, while maintaining an aseptic technique,” she said. “We instill the importance of teamwork to ensure patient safety and a successful operation.”
According to onetonline.org, surgical technologists can earn a yearly median salary of $53,460 in Texas, where projected job growth for the profession was forecast to increase 18% from 2020 to 2030.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology at its Harlingen campus.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.