At Larry Shane Sykes' core, he's always loved training and teaching new employees in his field of Surgical Technology. It's a passion Sykes, CST/FAST, passes along today to his students at Concorde's campus in Aurora, CO., where he's served as the Surgical Technology Program Director for the past year.
Sykes' love of teaching others dates all the way back to the early 1990s in his native Mississippi when he was employed out of college at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, training new employees.
"While I was there, I took a preceptor class to further my career," he said. "After that, I started training new Surgical Technology graduates, students, nursing students, medical students, residents, and new employees."
After 16 years of doing that, Sykes decided he wanted to do even more in teaching his fellow surgical techs. One of his mentors at the Medical Center had told him for years that he should become a full-time teacher.
"I loved teaching others at the hospital and training them," he said, "so I decided to take a big leap into teaching."
"I resigned working at the hospital and packed up everything to move to Colorado (where his wife has family) and take a huge responsibility without knowing what I was doing. It was so hard to leave my OR family and friends and my parents, but in my heart, I knew my passion for teaching others would work out."
Not knowing he wanted to go into Surgical Technology
Sykes said when he graduated high school in 1992, he had no idea what he wanted to do. He enrolled at Hinds Community College in Jackson, Miss. to take some general education classes. While attending there, he did some volunteer work at the Veterans Administration hospital in Jackson in the surgery department.
"I was liking what I saw and how different surgeries would help out different patients live longer," he said. "I loved the idea of trying to save someone's life."
Sykes enrolled in the Surgical Technology program at Hinds Nursing Allied Health. He'd found his passion and career ... at least, for the time being.
The ever-changing field of Surgical Technology
One of the things Sykes loves so much about the field of Surgical Technology and teaching it is that it seems to always be changing.
"It has changed tremendously over the last 20 years," Sykes said. "You now have new techniques to do the same old surgeries. You have new equipment, new instruments, new gloves, and new ideas from others on a daily basis on how to perform surgeries. New diseases have come out, so you need to know how to protect yourself."
"Surgical Technology has been changing every day since I started in this profession, and you better be ready to change with it."
Advice on how to keep up with Surgical Technology
Sykes advises students that one of the best ways to keep up with evolving technology in ST is to keep up with certifications.
"Certification will let you do anything in the field within your scope of practice," he said. "Going to your state and national conferences is vital when you are certified. Plus, being on your state committees."
Also, just because you're a teacher doesn't mean you ever stop being taught as well.
"Always have mentors in this journey as a surgical tech," he said. "I have so many that I consider them not only friends but family."
It's the passion and dedication of program directors like Sykes that makes Concorde one of the top surgical technologist schools in the Denver area. If you think you might want to become a surgical tech, check out Concorde's Aurora campus today or check out our online surgical tech program!