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Pulaski Tech gets approval for Anesthesia Technology program | Health

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Pulaski Tech gets approval for Anesthesia Technology program

Pulaski Technical College recently received approval for its Anesthesia Technology program from the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT).

 This approval allows students in the program to take the Anesthesia Technologist Certification Exam, which they must successfully pass before they can work as anesthesia technologists.

 Pulaski Tech offers the program in partnership with Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Anesthesia technologists have traditionally been trained on-the-job, but in order to be certified, they must now have a college degree. At Pulaski Tech, anesthesia technology is one of six options offered through the Associate of Applied Science in Allied Health. The degree requires 61 credit hours that include classroom work and on-site clinicals. Full-time students can complete the program in two years. 

The Pulaski Technical College Board of Trustees approved the program in June 2011, and the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved it in July 2011. Pulaski Tech received a $76,400 Blue and You grant from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to buy lab equipment for training. Classes began in January 2012, and six students are currently enrolled in the program. Applications are being accepted now for classes starting in January 2013.

With funding from the Blue and You grant, Pulaski Tech is also expanding the program across the state by using distance education technology.  Hospitals will be able to host students at their facility, and students will receive classroom training via live and recorded video, as well as receive clinical training on-site.

 Graduates from the program will have a leg up on future jobs, says Benjamin Peacock, Pulaski Tech’s Director of Allied Health Affiliations.

 "The great thing about having the program taught by the anesthesiologists at the hospital is that, when these students graduate, the students are potentially immediately hirable by the hospital where they trained,” Peacock said. 

In their job role, anesthesia technologists – or techs – assist anesthesiologists and anesthetists in preparing and using equipment and supplies used in administering anesthesia. They calibrate, troubleshoot and operate mechanical, pneumatic and electronic equipment used to monitor patients undergoing anesthesia. 

Hospitals save money by not paying a full anesthesiologist to set up, calibrate and clean equipment. Instead, anesthesiologists can spend more time in the operating room, increasing turnover.

Anesthesia technology is an emerging field. Arkansas Children’s Hospital initially approached Pulaski Tech about partnering with a degree program, Peacock said. In June, Baptist Health System signed on as a clinical site, so Pulaski Tech students gain clinical experience at both Children’s Hospital and at Baptist Health Medical Center. Graduates are expected to find jobs at area hospitals, earning $12 to $18 hourly. 

“The partnership is just one way Pulaski Tech is working with area industry – in this case, the healthcare industry – to train people to fill specific jobs in the workforce,” said Pamela K. Cicirello, Dean of Allied Health and Human Services at Pulaski Tech. “Arkansas Children’s Hospital saw a need, and we were able to work jointly to design the curriculum so that graduates will have those specific competencies needed for local jobs.”

Pulaski Tech is the only college in Arkansas – and the only one in the Mid-South area – offering an approved anesthesia technology program, according to the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians.

Six other schools nationwide are approved. Those schools include Milwaukee Area Technical College, Pasadena City College in California, Renton Technical College in Washington, Sanford Brown College in Houston, Sanford –Brown Institute in Iseline, New Jersey, and Stony Brook University in New York.