St. Luke’s University Health Network is launching its new School of Sterile Processing, which will train students on how to clean, sterilize, prepare, process and store all medical and surgical supplies and equipment used for patient care.
The six-month paid training program will require a 40-hour-a-week dual education experience that will combine classroom education and hands-on training, according to Jillian Lewis, network educator for the Sterile Processing Department.
The St. Luke’s program is the first in the region, Lewis said, although some health care facilities offer an online program. “In those cases,” she said, “you still need to find a place to complete an externship in order to meet the minimum number of hours required to obtain your certification. The St. Luke’s School of Sterile Processing is providing both the didactic portion, which I will be teaching, and the necessary clinical hands-on experience.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that between 40 and 50 million surgical procedures are performed in the United States each year. That figure does not include the estimated five million common outpatient procedures that include gastrointestinal endoscopies or colonoscopies, which require contact between a piece of medical equipment and a patient’s tissue or mucous membranes. The proper disinfection and sterilization of equipment used in these procedures is essential in preventing the unfortunate complication of patient infection, the CDC said.
“Unless you work in health care, most people don’t realize what a sterile processing technician does, and how critical this process is to patient care,” Lewis said. “The technician is responsible for providing clean and sterile surgical instruments that allow doctors to perform lifesaving procedures in scheduled and emergency situations.”
Beyond the clear benefits for patient care, the new sterile processing program also offers aspiring professionals an ideal gateway to health care, Lewis added.
“St. Luke’s is an amazing company to work for, and the network is always encouraging its employees to grow their knowledge base,” she said. “This program is a great way to get into the St. Luke’s network since we provide the education to get your certification. You don’t need experience to come work here. And if you are looking for room to grow, you can not only move up within the Sterile Processing Department, you can also benefit from St. Luke’s tuition reimbursement if you decide, for example, that you want to become a surgical technologist, or a nurse. And with our medical school partnership with Temple University, the opportunities are unlimited.”
The first class going through the St. Luke’s School of Sterile Processing will kick off in April 2023. Individuals accepted into the program also receive full benefits, in addition to being paid throughout the duration of the training program.
For more information or to apply, visit www.slhn.org/medical-education/sterile-processing.