First Sterile Processing Technician Course gives students a jump start into the medical field

Posted on Aug 12, 2019

At Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps’ onsite charter school, YouthBuild Fresno, the Sterile Processing course was added to an array of vocational training opportunities for students. The program allows young adults, 18 to 29, who have previously been left or pushed out of the traditional school system with a second chance to attend high school, through a partnership with YouthBuild Charter School of California (YCSC).

Last spring, YouthBuild Fresno began offering the first Sterile Processing Technician course among the statewide network of YCSC schools. The class allows students to begin their technician certification, with hands-on training and classroom-based learning.

“We wanted to offer something unique for students that wouldn’t be flooded with people in the healthcare industry,” said Caroline Garcia, YouthBuild Fresno Program Manager. “When students think of health care they think of doctors, nurses and administration staff, but a lot of students aren’t familiar with Sterile Processing Technicians.”

Staff realized a growing demand for professionals in the medical field and were excited to include the Sterile Processing Technician course as a part of YouthBuild Fresno’s U.S. Department of Labor funding. The class is among many other vocational training opportunities such as public lands and trails, recycling, construction, ground maintenance, solar, weatherization, and janitorial building maintenance.

At YouthBuild Fresno, students have the opportunity to gain an internationally recognized certification used in hospitals and surgery rooms, with average entry-level earnings starting at $13 per hour. “This program is unique because students are getting hands-on experience in a career that pays more than minimum wage,” said Garcia. “Even if this isn’t the career they want to pursue, they feel this is a way to get their foot in the door.”

In the first cohort, students learned how to clean medical equipment, utilize proper storage techniques, study medical terminology and understand the role of a Sterile Processing Technician.

“When I first started with the class, I didn’t know anything about sterilization and I wasn’t sure if I would be into it,” said Juan Muñoz, YouthBuild Fresno student. “Then I started taking it seriously because you start to realize people’s lives depend on it and you have to make sure everything gets sterilized.” 

For Isaac Cerda, the course also came at a perfect time. Cerda enrolled in YouthBuild Fresno after dropping out of a traditional school, with the hopes of getting his high school diploma.

“After I dropped out of high school, I felt like I was rotting away in my room,” said Cerda. “I started looking for ways to succeed and I knew I wasn’t going to succeed without a high school diploma or GED. I saw this class as an opportunity and I had to take it.”

Now Cerda feels the class provided him with a jumpstart into a career. He hopes to gain more experience in the medical field and eventually work at the Fresno County coroner’s office.

“You are going to go through struggles and there are going to be road bumps, it’s nothing you can’t get over with the help of Fresno EOC,” said Cerda. “They are there every step of the way to give you that helping hand. All that hard work it’s worth something.”

At Congressman Jim Costa’s recent visit to YouthBuild Fresno, students were able to share what they’ve learned in the classroom and how it’s prepared them for a career.

Those who finished the course have an opportunity to complete 400 internship hours through an agreement with Valley Children’s Hospital. These internship hours are necessary for students to complete their Sterile Processing Technician certification, providing them with hands-on training and experience working in a hospital setting.

Students are excited at the prospect of interning at Valley Children’s Hospital. While taking the class they went on a tour of the facilities and got a taste of what it’s like to be a healthcare professional.

“We got to take a tour of the operating and contamination room,” said Sulema Rodriguez, YouthBuild Fresno student. “There we were able to observe what they were doing and it’s exactly what we would practice during our class.”

After the success of the first class, staff look forward to offering students internships and more learning opportunities, such as field trips and guest speakers in the coming years. Young adults interested in completing their high school diploma can enroll in the next Sterile Processing Technician class by contacting Maria Else, YouthBuild Fresno Counselor at (559) 264-1048.

Learn more about YouthBuild Fresno Sterile Processing Technician Certification