Monthly Surgical Assisting Newsletter

Our monthly surgical assisting newsletter is sent out to bring you news and stories helpful and interesting to your career.

We will also be featuring students and graduates to give you a closer look at our program.

alice surgical assisting newsletter
Meet our program director Alice L. Dungen!
Hear about Alice’s Mission Trip to Grenada

Sign up today to get on the mailing list!

A note from our director…

The Giving Issue – March 2017

With only a few days left in March to sign up for our April 1st start date we wanted to send out a special newsletter. As we launch into the bright, spring season, we turn our attention to giving, in the form of charitable work in the OR.

Rather than our usual collection of resources, this issue spotlights two of our recent graduates who exemplify the spirit of giving: Micaela Olson, who participated in a domestic medical mission in Stewart, FL, and Beth Smyth, who served a medical mission in Guatemala.

I myself have been lucky enough to serve two mission trips: a Urologic mission to Haiti in 1998 and a mission focused on pediatric surgery to Granada in 2013. Read about and see pictures of the Granada trip at this link, with a follow-up story here.

Both of these missions instilled in me a gratitude that couldn’t have come from any better source, and that is a genuine sense of people helping people. It changed me in many ways but most of all I returned with a sense of accomplishment and pride at having helped humanity just a little bit. Once you’ve been on a mission, no thank-you card could ever come close to describing what you feel in your heart. It’s hard work and you will come home exhausted but it’s worth every minute you’ll spend truly giving to others. There is no feeling quite like it. If you ever get a chance to join in on one of these missions, do so. You’ll never regret this decision!

In this newsletter we include a few sites for researching potential service opportunities. If you know of others, please send them to be included in a future newsletter. And remember, if you are a current or future RASA student, we can accept some surgical cases completed during missions toward your clinical internship.

Alice L. Dungen
Program Director

Test your surgical terminology knowledge with our monthly crossword puzzle:

Think you figured out all the answers?

Featured Graduate #1: Micaela Olson

Name:  Micaela Olson, SA
City and State: Palm Beach Gardens, FL
RASA Education:  Graduated October 2016
Current Position:  First assistant, mainly in plastic surgery. I do freelance work with all my physicians that were my preceptors. I’m super busy already. (Previous work was as a scrub tech working for Hospital Corporation of America.)

Medical Mission:
I’ve always heard of people going on medical missions to Honduras and Cuba and very much want to do that in the future, but with a 3-year old son, I can’t do it at this point. I heard about an opportunity here in Florida with Light of the World Charities and I put in my application. I worked several weekends in Stewart, FL, with a general surgeon doing hernia and other procedures for underprivileged kids and adults from throughout the state. I was mainly doing suturing and closing.

What was that experience like? It is really gratifying to be able to give back to the community. We were lucky enough that all the medical volunteers we worked with are passionate about it and we were able to do so many cases. The work starts bright and early Saturday and Sunday in the morning and doesn’t finish until dinner time.  It was really rewarding, and people give you a lot of thanks.

How has getting your SA certification impacted your career?  In contrast to my previous job as a scrub tech employed at the hospital and being assigned rooms, as a freelancer I get to pick who I like to work with. They appreciate working with me as well. It’s a much better environment for me. I know what I’m good at and my physicians are more than willing to teach me.  It’s nice to feel valuable.  Obviously, I also got a pay increase and the ability to spend more time with my 3-year-old son.

What are your future career goals as an SA? I’m studying to take the SA-C soon. I have a couple of offers to expand my horizons and work in robotics, which would be a challenge.

Featured Graduate #2: Beth Smyth

Name:  Beth Smyth, CST/SA
City and State:  Port Washington, WI
RASA Education: Graduated October 2016
Current Position: ST/SA on Cardio-Thoracis team and in general (ortho) surgery, Aurora Medical Center, Grafton, WI

Medical Mission:
I served in a one-week mission trip last month in Antigua, Guatemala. James Larson, General Surgeon from Aurora, also came along. The trip was under the auspices of GuatemalaSurgery.org, in partnership with Common Hope. We did gall bladders, hernias, lipomas, lumps and bumps. I bounced back and forth between two general surgeons; there were two scrub nurses as well. In addition, we had a GYN team there; they had their own assists. We did about 50 surgeries total.

What was that experience like? The people were so grateful. “God bless you, God bless you, thank you.” It was almost like you were famous; it was humbling. People came from 15 hours away, some of them on foot, to get surgeries done.  The amenities are extremely different, and yet they were so grateful. Back home, people get upset about the smallest things. I think everyone should be able to serve on a mission and get this kind of perspective. It was such a blessing for me to see and meet these folks. They grabbed my neck and hugged me, “Thank you for giving me a new lease on life.”

Click here to see pictures and read a more in-depth profile about Beth and her mission trip.

Below are some service opportunities, but if you know of more post them on our Facebook page and share them with others.

Service Opportunities

MedicalMissions.com is a network that allows you to search hundreds of organizations based on your healthcare specialty (including Surgical Tech), part of the world, and health issue(s) of interest.

Although many individual organizations offer the opportunity to volunteer in a surgical missions, not all accept SAs. Following are a few that may; we’d love to hear from you about other opportunities.

Helping Hands Medical Missions
International Surgical Missions
Healing the Children
Health Volunteers Overseas
Light of the World Charities