bidwell1 300MADISONVILLE (8/17/13) - Students from across the globe are taking classes through distance learning through the Madisonville Community College Surgical Technology Program. The local program includes surgical assistant students from as far away as South Africa.

Associate professor/director of MCC's surgical technology program Jeff Bidwell also instructs students from the University of Kentucky Medical Center, St. Thomas and Vanderbilt hospitals in Tennessee, some from the states of Virginia, Florida and Michigan and some from Baptist Hospital in Madisonville.

"Our number of students has expanded due to the distance learning we offer," said Bidwell. "They also work with surgeons in their areas to gain hands-on experience."

Bidwell teaches both the surgical technology and surgical assistant programs at MCC. Students in the surgical technology program are all local, he said.

Typical students in the surgical assistant program include not only surgical technologists wanting to step up to the surgical assistant status but also nurse practitioners.

MCC started the Surgical First program in August 2002 with 18 students. During the 2004-2005 academic year, the number expanded to 23 students moving into online assisted coursework, according to Bidwell.

The college launched the Total Distance Option after it was approved by the American Review Council in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting in 2007. The program requires students outside the tri-state area to have the capability of performing clinicals in their areas and have at least one surgeon, who has agreed to be the students' primary preceptor.

Bidwell himself graduated from MCC's Surgical Technology Program in 1991, attained an associate's degree from MCC in 1995 and a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern Indiana in 1997. He then received his master's degree from Murray State University in 1999. During the past 20 years, he has worked in all surgical areas with an emphasis on orthopedics.

His other duties at MCC include instructing European history. He is also a PRN surgical assistant instructor with Baptist Health's orthopedic department in Madisonville.

While his credentials in his field are numerous, he has gained national attention recently after writing several articles for inclusion in the Association of Surgical Technologists monthly magazine. He has served on the Association of Surgical Technologists Sixth edition core curriculum committee and is co-authoring a surgical procedures textbook for F.A. Davis.

Rita Dukes Smith
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