Columbia Area Career Center
Who Has Attended A Vocational Career Center?
Are you a graduate of a technical/trade vocational program?
Located Next to Rock Bridge High School
Columbia's career center also offers Medical Coding degrees and LPN degrees, with a 90% placement rate.
A Student's Perspective
I am a 2010 honored graduate of the Columbia Area Career Center's, Surgical Technology Program, located in Columbia, Missouri. I started at the Career Center in August of 2009, and graduated Co-Valedictorian of my surgical class July 26, 2010.
In November of 2009, I was unemployed and was thinking about taking some college classes just to get out of the house and do something. I was looking at taking some classes in pottery to Medical coding. I didn't know what I wanted, but, I signed up anyways to see what they would offer that following summer. I actually had forgotten about signing up on their email list, until I received a brochure for some of their summer programs that Spring. Nothing they offered really caught my eye, and the brochure was thrown into the recycle bin. Then in June of 2009 they sent me another brochure about their fall courses. I was actually outside that day, sunbathing in my backyard when my husband brought my mail out to me to read. I naturally starting shuffling through the pages, and came across a page that was titled, Surgical Technology.
"Surgical technology?", I thought to myself. What the hell was that? After reading about the course, I went inside and Google the words. To my surprise the Federal Government's economy website had a nice article about the recent job and salary increases for Surgical Technologists. The article included an average median income for Scrub Tech's, and the expect job increase percentage shown in the career field. It was very promising. After doing some more research on my own, I called out to my husband Michael and asked him what he thought of the program. He chuckled at me, and in good fun asked me something about the whereabouts of the basket weaving class. After reading the article Michael seemed just as excited as I was, and we both knew that this sound real good for me and my future. Needless to say, I quickly began to pursue my new career change with all the vigor of a hungry lioness.
After paying my application fee, I was notified of the next scheduled aptitude test testing time, and that if I was to be considered for the course I would have to be there. I struggled with the science and math portion of the aptitude test, but, I did very well on the rest of it. My reading comprehension score was my highest school, and it was something like a 94%. But my math and science scores were in the sixty percentiles. After taking the test I was notified with in ten days that I had passed the test, and would be expected at the interview time they subsequently set for me. Like a good girl I arrived fifteen minutes early, and wore respectable interviewing attire. When I was called into the interview room I felt at ease and confident. To my left was Deb Wright CST (class instructor) and to my right seated was Jane Klick, RN, CNOR and core director, and a Boone Hospital Scrub Tech employee named John.
I answered their questions directly, and I left feeling like the interview went very well. I felt very good about my chances in getting into the program. However, two weeks later I received a rejection letter from the panel, but, in that letter they wrote to me how I was to put on the cancellation list in case someone was to drop out of the program within the first week. I was devastated. I remember point blank asking Debbie and Jane if I stood a good chance at getting into the program, and they both said yes. I couldn't understand where things had went wrong. I then decided not to get down, and than I would choose my own destiny. I then started to make several phone calls and trips to their office, to show them my sincere interest in the program. I wanted to desperately be apart of something, and I knew that I needed this program to help me along my way. To my good fortune it worked. Just so happens several of the candidates chosen before me had dropped out, and I received a phone call on the second day of school, letting me into the program. Boy was I thrilled.
I have to say that the initial interview into the program is a bit stage. The primary basis of letting you into the program, is based on need. It is not like most other academic programs where community service plays a role, or previous academic scores are weighted, or where previous successful accomplishments are measured over let's say your "need" for a new career change. Jane usually bases her opinion on second chances. She is real big about giving people second chances in life, and in the classroom. Which happens to be a very admiral quality, but, not usually the quality to have if your business is driven by money. Which ultimately the career center is a financially driven entity. However, the Columbia Career Center is Jane's baby and she ultimately decides who or who doesn't not get in. If she thinks you can afford to go somewhere else, she will send you on your way. Her personal reasons for doing what she does is quite obvious. She is there to help the downhearted and distraught souls of this world, by providing them a quality education at her program. As I wrote earlier, she is all about giving second chances.
The first three months of the program is classroom work. It is very fast pace work, and a student thinking of going into the program needs to be aware of just how fast pace the program really is. I made the best of the program. I always did my homework, and even the extra credit. But I didn't have any outside distractions either. My family was very supportive of me, and gave me a wide birth to study. Starting towards the end of November, student inductions to the hospital setting takes place. This gives the student a real good look into their future career, and what the clinical expectations of a Surgical Technologist's career. I think it is safe to write that this is a very exciting time for all the students, flourishing in the program. For those students who are lagging behind, I would say that this period becomes more of an eye opener for you. If you are questioning whether the career is right for you, this period provides you a hard look at your decision.
The month of December is spent finishing the core classes of Microbiology, Medical Terminology, Introduction to Surgical Technology, Anatomy, and Surgical Instrumentation. A vast majority of that time is spent studying over all the past chapters for the final test, which is given right before the students are released for Christmas break. These tests are hard. But to the teachers credit, they give you back your past tests to study over. Most of the final tests were made up of previous test questions, and all four of the teachers teaching at the program made sure to provide each and every student with absolutely everything they would need to score a 100%. The teachers did most of the hard work for us, and all that was left up to us to do, was to study for the Final tests. Another positive aspect about the Columbia Area Career Center's practices, is that they are committed to helping their students pass. The teachers are willing to stay after school and study with you if they have too. They even offer tutoring during their lunch hours, or on Fridays when there wasn't any school scheduled. As many of you all ready know, a college professor at any given university could careless if you pass or fail. However, that cannot be said of the staff employed at the Career Center. They are dedicated to what they do, and thoroughly love doing it.
During the months of January through June, class days are cut in half and shared with time spent working at the hospital. The hospitals that we were allowed to perform at were Columbia Regional, Boone Hospital and The University Hospital and Staff. Use this time to your advantage. Columbia Career Center's Surgical Technology program is quite gifted in the fact that they have a great working relationship with these hospitals. Jane Klick served as an RN for the University Hospital for several years, and class educator Carrie Golighty was a CST for the University as well before becoming a full time teacher. The professional respect shown to Jane and Carrie, by the different hospitals' staff coordinators, and regular hospital employees, speaks volumes about these two teachers. Money cannot buy that added professional edge, which can only be provided by those persons, who are are so admired by their professional communities.
I think the cost of the program is the only real negative I have. It cost me over $11,000.00 to complete the Surgical Technology program. Only to come out of the program jobless, and completely unsure about my future. Another aspect that must be taken into account, is that the tuition does not match the pay scale of the job. In Columbia, Missouri you will be lucky to start a job at $12.00 an hour. Which is much lower than the national average at $18.00 an hour. I can see paying $11,000.00 for the program if we were helped with job placements, and if our state required that all Surgical Technologists had to be certified. But the facts are that any hospital, can hire any "Joe Blow" off the street to be a Surgical Technologist. You do not have to be certified in the State of Missouri, like one needs to be license to be a LPN or RN nurse provider. You have to have a license to cut hair in the State of Missouri but, you are free to assist in brain surgery without a certificate in the State of Missouri. This only helps impedes the driving the force to higher pay wages for certified scrub techs. Until this all changes, a $11,000.00 tuition price is too steep for what is provided these students in the end.
With that taken into consideration, I would say that my over all grade of the program, is an -A.
Misc. Items Needed For Career Center Training
1- pkg. Note cards
Mead Trapper Keeper
their Five-Star binder.
1- pkg. Highlighters
Pocket Folders -
1 for every subject.
2- ea. blk ball point pens
XL Book Bag -
wide mouth, heavy duty.
1- pkg. Loose leaf paper
Good Pr. Safety Glasses -
comfortable and sturdy.
2- ea. spiral notebooks
White out tape -
for mistake corrections.
2- ea. lead pencils
Tylenol or Advil -
headaches & hand cramps.
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Making School My Number One Priority
A Personal Note From the Author...
School became my household's number-one, priority. If you really want to make the best of the program, I highly suggest that it becomes your number one priority as well. Goofing off in class is just one more added stress or distraction that you impose on your fellow classmates. School is hard enough, without any extra, added, inconsiderate, behavior thrown into the mixture. A lack of respect for your fellow classmates, was something several of my classmates had a terrible time with. I hope that any persons reading this review will keep in mind, to be respectful of those around you.
- Turn off your cellphones.
- Do not drink alcohol in class.
- Leave the social side of your life to yourself or only talk about it during the scheduled breaks.
- Do your homework!
Your bad or unprofessional behavior not only holds you back, it holds someone else back. You, as an adult student, do not have the right to impose your lackadaisical attitude onto someone else, so do not. School is what you make of it. It will do you good to remember that.
Best of luck,