ASU-Newport program finds jobs for all its graduates

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – President Barack Obama discussed the nation's economic woes at the White House Friday, emphasizing the continued need to create jobs.

Despite concerns of the economic recovery slowing, one local program has proven successful in landing full-time employment for almost all its graduates.

The Arkansas State University campus in Newport saw a need to train more surgical technicians, so it started a program last year that practically sews up the job search for students.

"The economy is always changing," Christopher Madden said. "You never know, but one thing that's always certain is medicine."

Madden serves as director of the surgical technology program at ASU-Newport. A grant allowed the school to create his department last year, and the inaugural class of seven all found jobs as surgical technicians soon after graduation.

"We've had real good success," Madden said. "Six out of the nine already have jobs this year, and the program's not even complete yet."

Madden credits clinical rotations for shortening the job search for students, as local hospitals can basically try out candidates before offering them employment.

"(Students) leave with 125 surgical cases under their belt and in-depth knowledge of surgery and how it actually works," he noted. "Is the student going to be there on time? Are they punctual? Do they know what they're doing? Do they know the anatomy and the equipment? Are they a true asset to the facility, or will they be a true asset to the facility? From the response that we've had, I believe that they are."

Madden says the program only admits students who are both dedicated and hirable. Students have to undergo background checks and drug screenings before they begin the intensive 11-month program, and classes mostly meet at the state-of-the-art facilities on campus.

"It's very fast-paced," Madden explained about the program. "Really, this should be a two-year program. We're putting it in 11 months, and we've had good success with it."

He has mostly measured that success, as students have snatched up jobs even before they graduate.

"It feels good to know that I gave somebody a way to provide for their family, and they're able to service the community too and be a good citizen."

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.