The surgical technology program was started in the fall of 1967 in an abandoned grocery store in West Des Moines. Deloris Benning was hired as program chair and Janet Ashby joined the program as an instructor. In the summer of 1971, the program moved to the Ankeny Campus, building 9.
The surgical technology program provided the opportunity for students to develop the knowledge and skills which contribute to the safe and competent care of a surgical patient. The curriculum proceeded from simple to more complex in the classroom and clinical area. Upon graduation from the program, the surgical technologist was qualified to function under the direct guidance of the Licensed Registered Nurse and /or surgeon. The surgical technologist was also eligible to take the National Surgical Technologist Qualifying Certification Examination given by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST).
After Benning retired in 1982, a new chairperson was hired. Due to low enrollment and high attrition the program was discontinued in 1986.
The program was reinstated in 2007 and is located on the Urban Campus. The program accepts 16 students each fall for the three term program. Students are placed in surrounding hospitals for their clinical rotations.
The program continually dealt with high attrition rates due to the lack of applicant knowledge of the work environment. In an attempt to reduce the situation the Program, in conjunction with the student services department, developed an "Exploration Day". Students who had been accepted into the program for the fall were invited to attend the activity in the spring. The groups of students met at the Ankeny Campus and were transported to several hospitals in Des Moines for the day. They met instructors and hospital surgical nurse supervisors and were allowed to "scrub" and gown. They were admitted to the surgery suites to observe the technologist in action. This activity impacted the attrition rate. In some cases the student came to realize they had chosen the wrong field and changed programs before investing time and money or delaying their entry into another program of study. For others it solidified they were headed down the right career path.