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Clark College receives grant for new Surgical Technician program

Clark College has received a $141,260 grant to develop the first Surgical Technician program to be offered in Southwest Washington. This project is funded by a Hospital Education and Employment Training (HEET) grant to meet this critical workforce need. The grant proposal was developed in collaboration with PeaceHealth and Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP).  

This grant is administered by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). HEET funding is used to develop or expand innovative training programs in partnership with labor and employers that support incumbent healthcare workers to advance their careers in the healthcare field while meeting the rapidly changing workforce needs of our healthcare system. 

Graduates of Clark College’s new two-year program will earn an Associate of Applied Technology (AAT) degree in Surgical Technology, the first of its kind in the Southwest Washington region. The closest programs in Washington are offered at community colleges in the Puget Sound region. The closest program in the metro area is at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. 

“Graduates from this new program will meet a critical workforce need,” said Clark College President Dr. Karin Edwards. “We are dedicated to training our local workforce not only for this current generation, but also for the next. This program will ensure that our hospitals will have well-trained surgical technicians.”  

In collaboration with PeaceHealth and OFNHP, the Surgical Technician HEET project will include developing the program, including curriculum; integrating worker voice to ensure accessibility for workers; developing incumbent worker pathway; and leveraging industry resources for quality instruction.

"Surgical technicians are in high demand, and play key roles on our clinical team,” said Sean Gregory, Chief Executive, Columbia Network, PeaceHealth. “This program will be a critical resource to prepare students for an excellent career path at hospitals and surgery centers across our region.” 

Timeline to implement AAT in Surgical Technology program: 

  • Summer 2023: Professor Beth Jochim will begin developing the program. 

  • January 2024: Hire a Director for Surgical Technician program to develop curriculum. 

  • Fall 2024: The first cohort is expected to begin classes. 

  • Spring 2026: The first cohort is expected to graduate from the program. 


“This is the type of program that OFNHP enthusiastically supports,” said Jonathon Baker, OFNHP President. “Programs like this will add to the skillset of our medical technicians, support healthcare in our region, and lift up our community.” 


In addition to staffing, the grant funding will pay for: 

  • Development and printing of program materials 

  • Goods and services to outfit the operating room and lab classrooms to ensure students are gaining industry-standard skills. This will be combined with leveraged resources from PeaceHealth for equipment.  

  • Funding for lead conference registration cost for Washington State Association of the Assembly of Surgical Technologists Conference in Vancouver, Wash. 

  • Funding for local mileage to partner meetings at PeaceHealth, to minimize impact on labor representatives and employer partners. 


Clark College will pursue a second HEET grant to fully implement the first cohort. The expectation is that the program will be sustainable after initial implementation.   

“I am excited that the surgical tech program will give students another healthcare degree option at Clark College. The program will give incumbent workers and Clark College students more opportunities for high demand surgical tech positions.  Our partnership with PeaceHealth has been essential to get this program started,” said Beth Jochim, Allied Health professor and program lead. 

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