She’s balancing work, school, and clinicals… and excelling.

Growing up near the Canadian border in Walhalla, ND, Kaitlyn LaPorte came to Grand Forks to go to a school in a community that was bigger but not too big. After a year at a different college, she was tipped off by a friend and NCTC alum that NCTC’s Surgical Technology (Surg Tech) would likely be a good fit for her. Coming from a background of medical professionals and spending time with family who had health problems, Kaitlyn always had an interest in the medical profession and decided to give the Surg Tech program a try after this advice. In her second year, she couldn’t be more satisfied with her decision. Working at a local hospital and going to school has presented unique challenges but has also opened doors. See how Kaitlyn is balancing work, school, and clinicals.

“I started at a different university and ended up switching majors three times that first year. Something wasn’t working out there, so I decided to transfer to Northland. I had a friend that graduated a few years before me (in Walhalla) tell me about the surg tech program at Northland. She had graduated from Northland and found a good job on an ortho team. She told me I should really look into it.”

After going to a four year, I’d choose Northland 100 times over.

“I did a shadow in surgery, and knew this was where I wanted to be after that week. The first surgery I ever got to see was an open-heart surgery… I was right there! I gave surg tech a chance and here we are.”

“My family had a lot of health issues so I’ve always had an interest in this. My grandpa had a triple bypass and seeing how they do that and how they stop the heart and get it back going… it was so amazing. I would really like to work in a cardio setting because of that.”

“You really get to meet a lot of different people. Everyone in clinicals has been so helpful, they put you in so many different scenarios to really get you ready. I’ve been in ortho and general and what you see and learn is amazing. Now we get more time, 30 extra hours of clinicals, so we get additional opportunity to be in the Operating Room (OR). Previously they hadn’t done that, so now we get to be a little more comfortable in that scene. It makes clinicals a lot more manageable.”

“They (instructors) are amazing. They push you, but they prepare you and it is good pressure. You are ready to enter the OR. Every week in class we have a practice lab. Where we scrub in, gown and glove, and then set up for a mock surgery. It is really helpful because it really is like what you see in the OR.”

I’ve been in ortho and general and what you see and learn is amazing.

“When you go into the OR, you don’t know anyone, you can’t see anyone with the masks and all you see is eyes. You really learn to read people through their eyes. You are taught how to react. The OR isn’t always what you think. The surgeons have let me hold different organs, see how the spine works and feels, we even did a leg amputation and the surgeon was pulling on the nerve to see how I would react as it moved. He thought he was pretty funny!”

“The surg tech really plays a lot of roles at once. You go in and open your supplies, make sure everyone is sterile, keep people mindful it’s a sterile field, meanwhile you’re counting equipment and handing other equipment, loading sutures… and much more. It’s demanding but rewarding.”

“I’m currently working at the hospital about 20 hours a week, and it’s great to be able to ask an ER doctor or nurse questions from school. Working at the hospital in the ER while going to school has really prepared me.”

“After going to a four year, I’d choose Northland 100 times over.”

Surgical Technology Student
Walhalla, ND

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