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New Operating Room Nurse Program at Hartnell College Gets Results

March 1st, 2004

A new Hartnell College program to help meet the shortage of operating room nurses in Central California has been very successful, according to statistics gathered from the first graduating class.

Ninety percent of those persons enrolled in the program's first class of 33, which was held last spring, are currently employed in hospital or surgery center operating rooms within Central California, according to Kathleen Schrader, director of the Regional Health Occupations Resource Center (RHORC), located at Hartnell.

"We are extremely proud of our students' success in obtaining operating room positions," Schrader said, "and look forward to helping other Registered Nurses do the same."

The RHORC's third operating room class is currently under way. Schrader said the number of persons taking the class since it began has easily exceeded projected enrollments.

The RHORC trains operating room nurses via video conferencing from Hartnell to four community colleges -- Bakersfield College, College of the Sequoias, Fresno City College, and Modesto Junior College. Hartnell students attend the live presentations on campus.

Schrader said most persons enrolled in the program are Registered Nurses who are interested in becoming operating room nurses.

One of the recent graduates is Linda Hertzog, who worked for 11 years as a floor nurse in the heart center at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH). For several years, she wanted to become an operating room nurse, but there were no training opportunities at the hospital until she learned about the RHORC program.

SVMH sponsored Hertzog in the program. She received her full salary while in class, and the hospital also provided a mentor for her during her on-the-job training.

"The class," she says, "was an opportunity of a lifetime. I found the program to be well-organized and excellent in every way." Today Hertzog is an operating room nurse at SVMH.

The RHORC program, which involves 54 hours of lectures and 54 hours in a skills laboratory setting, is based on the national guidelines of the Association of Perioperative (Operating Room) Nurses, according to Frances Bullman, who manages the Hartnell program.

"Students attend labs at their local colleges, allowing them to practice hands-on skills needed for the operating room," she said. Many of the RNs enrolled in the program receive practical operating room experience at their place of employment.

For Hartnell students, clinical practice opportunities are provided by Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, Mee Memorial Hospital in King City, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and surgery centers in Salinas and Monterey, according to Bullman, who also works at SVMH as an operating room nurse.

The program is underwritten by a $700,000 grant from the Economic and Workforce Development Department of the California Community College Chancellor's Office.

For more information on the program, contact Frances Bullman at (831) 770-6103 or (831) 755-6916.