Galveston College News: Surgical Technology program receives CAAHEP accreditation
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GALVESTON ISLAND, Texas – The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), at its January meeting, awarded programmatic accreditation to Galveston College’s Surgical Technology program. The initial five-year accreditation followed a rigorous review process, including a self-study and two-day visit to the Galveston campus.


"Receiving this distinction means we meet or exceed the standards set forth by CAAHEP, the gold standard for accreditation in our field," said program director Athena Sempe. "Earning CAAHEP accreditation also speaks to the high quality of our Galveston College Surgical Technology program and confirms that we are preparing our students well.”


Surgical technologists are allied health professionals who provide surgical care to patients in a variety of settings. The surgical technologist works under the supervision of a surgeon to ensure that the operating room environment is safe, the equipment functions properly, and the operative procedure is conducted under conditions that maximize patient safety.


With the addition of CAAHEP accreditation, Galveston College Surgical Technology students are now eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Upon passing the exam, graduates are considered Certified Surgical Technologists.


Galveston College had an accredited Surgical Technology program until 2012, when it was discontinued. The program was revived in 2016 at the request of the University of Texas Medical Branch due to a shortage of skilled surgical technicians. UTMB serves as a primary clinical site for students enrolled in the program.


“There is a high demand for certified surgical technologists in the Galveston and Houston areas,” said Dr. Cissy Matthews, vice president for instruction. “We are very proud that our Surgical Technology program has achieved CAAHEP accreditation. This demonstrates the quality of our program and the dedication of our faculty to ensure the program prepares students for success as surgical technologists.”


Sempe, former Surgical Technology program director and instructor at Montgomery College in Maryland and practicing surgical technologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, was brought on board to implement the program.


Students in the Galveston College Surgical Technology program benefit from a blend of rigorous classroom instruction and hands-on training—a combination that enables them to strengthen their newfound knowledge and skills.


“Our students are fortunate in that they receive an extra semester – or 300 hours – of clinical surgical experience that students in many surgical technology programs do not receive,” Sempe said. “They also benefit greatly from the experiences they receive at UTMB, which is a Level 1 trauma center.”


Sempe and the other Allied Health division instructors at Galveston College attend college and career nights at area high schools to promote their programs on a regular basis.


“We want students to know they have a number of career pathways with our Surgical Technology program,” Sempe said, explaining that students not only have opportunities as surgical technologists but in managing the sterile process, in oral-oral-maxillofacial dentistry, as vet techs and at medical examiner’s offices. After two years of experience in the field, students can qualify to enroll in a surgical first assistant program.


The Galveston College program accepts 10 students a year into the program, Sempe said, adding that accreditation will enable the college to grow the program with the addition of new clinical sites.


The application period is open from February 1 to April 1. For application information, contact Elizabeth Iles at or (409) 944-1490.


Pre-requisite courses for the program include Medical Terminology, Introduction to Health Professions and Applied Anatomy and Physiology I.


Students at Ball High School, Hamshire-Fannett High School and High Island High School who take Medical Terminology and Introduction to Health Professionals as part of the dual-credit program will have met two of the pre-requisites.






Carol Langston

Director of Public Affairs

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