Jul 23, 2024  
2023-2025 Catalog Volume XXXI Ver 1 
2023-2025 Catalog Volume XXXI Ver 1

Surgical Technology, AS

The Associate of Science in Surgical Technology program requires successful completion of 95.5 total quarter credit hours; and, is designed to be completed in six quarters over 18 months by full-time students. The curriculum requires a variety of general education courses, as well as foundational courses in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and microbiology for the Surgical Technologist. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of “C” in all major courses.

Programmatic Accreditation

Beginning in the year 2000, only graduates of a surgical technology program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) may take the certification exam. Beginning in July 2006, surgical technologists practicing in the state of Tennessee must be certified or a graduate of a CAAHEP-accredited program. This accreditation is provided in collaboration with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST).

The Associate of Science in Surgical Technology program offered at the Asheville, Knoxville, and Pittsburgh campuses is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org), 9355 - 113th St. N, #7709 Seminole, FL 33775, 727-210-2350, upon the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC-STSA) (www.arcstsa.org).

The Associate of Science in Surgical Technology program offered at the Atlanta, Indianapolis, Nashville, and Orlando campuses have site visits scheduled for pursuing initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org). This step in the process is neither a status of accreditation nor a guarantee that accreditation will be granted.

*Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education* (CAAHEP) www.caahep.org

*Accreditation Review Council in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting Programs*(ARC-STSA) www.arcstsa.org

Goals/Learning Outcomes

The goal of the South College Surgical Technology program is to prepare competent entry-level surgical technologists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains.

Graduates of this program of study will:

  1. Demonstrate competency in the background information, content, and skills required for performance as a surgical technologist in the operating room.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively with all members of the health care team in terms of staff and patient needs.
  3. Exhibit conduct that reflects practice standards that are legal, ethical, and safe.

Admission Requirements

Students applying to this program must:

  1. Be generally admitted to South College;
  2. Meet specific health and/or essential functions pertinent to the responsibilities performed by the Surgical Technologist;
  3. Successfully complete STE 1000 Introduction to Surgical Technology STE 1100 Patient Care Concepts I , and STE 1101 Patient Care Concepts I Lab  courses; 
  4. Students will be required to consent to a drug screening and background check prior to beginning clinical rotations. Failure to pass the screenings will result in non-admission;
  5. Clinical sites are dispersed; assigned sites may exceed 75 miles from South College. It is the responsibility of the student to allow for the proper travel time to ensure prompt arrival at the clinical facility.

Students will be accepted on a conditional basis until all admission requirements are met. Readmission is subject to completing all the specified admission requirements. Cohort sizes are campus-specific and based on clinical rotation slots.

Admission Process

The Surgical Technology program admission process is as follows:

Students are not admitted to the program until the successful completion of STE 1000 STE 1100 , and STE 1101 .  It is imperative that students display the ability to maintain collegiate-level coursework and the fast-paced workload necessary to navigate the rigor of a surgical technology program curriculum, laboratory skills, memorization, attention to detail, and the ability to think critically.  All coursework must be completed with a minimum grade of “C” and only the top ranked students based on approved cohort size and clinical openings from STE 1000 STE 1100 , and STE 1101  will be admitted to the surgical technology program.  Cohort sizes are determined by the clinical slots contracted with healthcare facilities per the ARC/STSA.

Students declared to the Surgical Technology program will be ranked via a points system (150 maximum points possible).

  1. STE 1101  Professionalism Points (up to 25 points)
  2. STE 1101  Average Grade For Skill Checkoffs
    • a.  A = 25 points
    • b.  B = 15 points
    • c.  C = 5 points
  3. STE 1000 STE 1100 STE 1101  Average Grade
    • a.  A = 25 points
    • b.  B = 15 points
    • c.  C = 5 points
  4. AHS 1200 ​ course grade
    • a.  A = 25 points
    • b.  B = 15 points
    • c.  C = 5 points
  5. MAS 1870  course grade
    • a.  A = 25 points
    • b.  B = 15 points
    • c.  C = 5 points
  6. AHS 1500  course grade
    • a.  A = 25 points
    • b.  B = 15 points
    • c.  C = 5 points

Students with the highest total points will be admitted to the Surgical Technology program after successful completion of quarter 2 (STE 1100 STE 1101 ) to the cohort capacity allowed.  An acceptance letter will be emailed to the student and must be signed/returned electronically prior to the first day of quarter 3 (STE 1200 STE 1201 , & STE 1205 ). If a student does not accept admission to the program, the Program Director has the option to admit an alternate declared student.

Declared students who are not admitted to the Surgical Technology program must reapply.  STE 1101  must be completed no more than 12 months prior to being accepted. After this period, the course must be retaken in order to qualify for admission consideration. 

Functional Standards for Surgical Technology

A candidate for the Associate of Science in Surgical Technology program must have abilities and skills in five categories: sensory, motor, cognitive, communication, and behavioral/social.  Students must demonstrate the following functional capacities. Students who believe that they will not be able to meet one or more of these requirements without accommodation or modification must notify the Surgical Technology Program Director, and a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis whether reasonable accommodation may be made. In no instance will accommodation be made which will compromise sterile technique, or that will put patients or other students at risk. Accommodation granted when a student is generally admitted to South College does not guarantee that this modification will apply to admission to the surgical technology program.



Examples of Tasks for


Adequate to ensure the safety of self and others in the classroom and clinical settings.


  • Students must be able to identify fine-tipped instrumentation from two feet.
  • Demonstrate sufficient visual ability to load a fine suture onto needles with or without corrective lenses and while wearing protective eye wear.


Adequate to allow effective communication with patients and others in person and by electronic means, and to ensure the safety of self and patients.


  • Students must be able to differentiate demands from the surgical team while there is background monitors, equipment, and other conversations within the operating room without the use of reading lips due to PPE mask requirements.
  • Hear and understand muffled or low-pitched communication without visualization of the communicator’s mouth/lips and within 20 feet.
  • Hear activation/warning signals on equipment.

Tactile Sensory

Adequate to allow effective evaluation and therapeutic intervention related to patient care, and to ensure the safety of self and others in providing care.


  • Students must be able to pick up, attach, and deliver instrumentation single-handedly. Surgical implants and delicate tissue must be carefully handled using a sterile technique. Surgical technology requires students to become ambidextrous and use their non-dominant hand without breaks in asepsis.
  • Detecting odors sufficient to maintain environmental safety and patient needs.
  • Be free of reportable communicable diseases and chemical abuse.
  • Demonstrate immunity to measles, rubella, rubeola, tuberculosis, and hepatitis A/B, or be vaccinated against these diseases, including the influenza vaccination during the season.

Gross motor strength and coordination

Adequate to ensure the safety of self and others in class, and lab sessions and clinical activities.


  • Pass the assessment test of donning surgical attire, understand the requirements for such attire in a surgery suite, is tolerable of the attire for 15 minutes while standing.
  • Students must be able to stand without breaks or use assistive devices for 6-hour increments or longer without breaking sterile technique during surgical procedures. Students must also be able to lift and hold instrument trays that can weigh up to 30 pounds over a ten-foot area.
  • Stand, bend, stoop, and/or sit for long periods of time in one location with minimum/no breaks.
  • Lift a minimum of 30 pounds.
  • Refrain from nourishment or restroom breaks for up to 6 hours.
  • Ambulate/move around without assistive devices.
  • Assist with, and/or lift, move, position, and manipulate, with or without assistive devices, the patient who is unconscious.

Fine motor strength and coordination

Adequate to allow mastery of activities requiring detailed movements.


  • Students must be capable of holding laparoscopic cameras without movement for long periods of time to aid the surgeon in visualizing anatomy. Surgical technologists also retract the anatomy of patients requiring a delicate touch to not harm the patient. Intraocular lens, suture, donor tissue, etc. all require coordination.
  • Manipulate instruments, supplies, and equipment with speed, dexterity, and good eye-hand coordination.

Critical Thinking ability

Adequate to allow mastery of basic course content and to demonstrate sound judgment in simulated and real-life surgical situations.


  • Demonstrate physical dexterity using surgical tools. 
  • Students must think quickly when a procedure converts from a minimally invasive approach to an open procedure. Surgical technologists must anticipate the needs of the surgical team and have the ability to act quickly in times of emergent patient care. Students must also understand the required equipment, supplies and instrumentation necessary to gather for surgical procedures they are assigned.
  • Demonstrate the ability to anticipate and function while in stressful situations.
  • Possess short- and long-term memory sufficient to perform tasks such as, but not limited to, mentally tracking surgical supplies, and performing anticipation skills intraoperative.
  • Make appropriate judgment decisions.

Interpersonal skills

Adequate to allow establishment of effective working and/or therapeutic relationships with patients, surgeons, and professionals.


  • Surgical technologists cannot abandon a patient in the operating room and must be able to negotiate stressful and critical conversations in times of stress without losing focus on the needs of the patient and surgical team.
  • Demonstrate the use of positive coping skills under stress.
  • Demonstrate calm and effective responses, especially in emergency situations.
  • Exhibit positive interpersonal skills in inpatient, staff, and faculty interactions.


Adequate to allow completion of course work and effective verbal and written communication with patients, families, communities, peers, and others.


  • Students must have the ability to communicate quickly and professionally with the surgical team to relay needed items and procedural steps for effective and safe patient care.
  • Communicate and understand fluent English both verbally and in writing.

Screening Requirements

Each student will be required to take a 12-panel drug screen before beginning the clinical portion of the program.  Each student will have 5 days to provide physician prescriptions upon request. Testing positive for illegal drugs or refusing to take the test when assigned will result in dismissal from the Surgical Technology program. If any suspension of drug use is noted by the faculty the student will be required to participate in another drug screen at the cost of the student.  If a student denies drug screen or test positive, it will result in automatic dismissal from the Surgical Technology program.

Each student will be required to consent to a 7-year background check. Students may be denied clinical placement by the clinical affiliate based on the background check results. As such, students will be dismissed from the Surgical Technology program.

Students may be required to obtain a respiratory fit test before attending clinical rotation.

In addition, each student must provide proof of ability to perform the skills needed to practice surgical technology effectively. Health care facilities must meet federal guidelines, and students must also meet these requirements to be allowed to gain clinical experience. All surgical technology students must comply with communicable diseases/blood-borne pathogen requirements that the clinical agencies require.

Therefore, each student must provide proof of current immunization of the following prior to cohort admission.   Students are responsible for the cost of immunizations.

  1. MMR
  2. Hepatitis B series
  3. DTP or Td
  4. Td Booster
  5. Measles after first birthday
  6. Rubella
  7. Covid and Influenza vaccinations
  8. Varicella (Chicken Pox) series of two doses or Immunity by positive titer
  9. Two step Tuberculin (PPD) test within 12 months; If positive PPD, a chest x-ray is needed.
  10. Flu shot within the past 12 months unless a doctor provided “proof of allergy” is provided.
  11. Covid-19 (Facility based)
  12. Proof of health insurance coverage throughout the entire surgical technology program is preferred.  However, students can sign a waiver if they do not have one.
  13. Annual training on blood-borne pathogens
  14. Valid American Heart Association Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers Course Completion Card or Certificate

Students who do not comply with all communicable disease/bloodborne pathogen requirements and accurately maintain their records in the institution’s clinical tracking portal will be cancelled or withdrawn.


The Associate of Science in Surgical Technology program curriculum below is offered at the Asheville, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Knoxville, Nashville, Orlando, & Pittsburgh campuses.

AS Surgical Technology Curriculum: 95.5 Credits