BayCare, in Partnership with SPC, Celebrates Graduation of First Surgical Technology Cohort

November 03, 2023
Photo of 8 surgical technologists at their graduation standing by two support staff.
The graduates of BayCare's first Surgical Technology Program commemorate their achievement.


The first 11 students of an innovative new partnership between BayCare and St. Petersburg College (SPC) are now prepared for a career as a surgical technologist. The Surgical Services Associate in Science Degree program has trained and equipped these students to join BayCare's surgical teams to deliver the best in clinical care.

Graduates are trained and offered hands-on training to assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses or other surgical personnel. The program includes classroom studies, classroom lab practice, and clinical experience.  

In 2018, BayCare recognized an increasing need for highly skilled surgical technologists who could meet the unique demands in health care. The demand for highly skilled surgical technologists has grown significantly, driven in part by the complexities of modern surgeries and the need for specialized expertise. Surgical technologists are essential members of the health care team, ensuring the safety and success of surgical procedures. 

The Surgical Technology Program is a two-year commitment and students who complete it are required to work at BayCare for a period of two years post-graduation. BayCare hopes to expand the program to accommodate up to 30 students in the future to address the growing demand for surgical technologists in the health care field. 

Deanna Stentiford, dean of the College of Health Sciences at SPC, played a pivotal role in the program’s development.  

“At SPC, we aim to empower students to achieve academic success and economic mobility. With the support of our community partners like BayCare, we can offer high-quality education along with high-quality clinical experiences,” said Stentiford. “When BayCare approached SPC with concern about the future of surgical technologists, we worked together to strategize the most effective way to serve our community together. This innovative and collaborative approach led to an outstanding partnership, which has grown into a stellar experience for our students.” 

BayCare's commitment to the program was largely facilitated by John Pollard, director of Surgical Services at Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin hospitals. Pollard ensured that BayCare’s investment supplied the necessary resources, including the establishment of a state-of-the-art skills lab, funding for equipment and supplies, and the recruitment of their own team members as the inaugural class.  

Michael Benincasa, an inaugural class graduate, is now employed at Mease Countryside Hospital.  

“Becoming a surgical technologist gave me a new perspective,” emphasized Benincasa." I've used the skills learned in class and during clinical rotations, focusing on patient safety and sterile technique. My experience and training at BayCare were invaluable. To potential students: This program will challenge you to excel, and with dedication, you can achieve your goals.” 

Pollard noted the importance of BayCare’s investment and mentorship for the students. 

“We have helped ensure that the program has the funding, supplies and equipment needed to provide the best education to our students. This program is a priority for BayCare because it addresses immediate staffing needs and contributes to the overall advancement of health care standards.” 

The three-year partnership between BayCare and SPC is one more way that the leading health care system in West Central Florida is setting up its team members for success. 

BayCare’s Chief Team Resources Officer Kyle Barr concluded, “By providing team members with the tools they need to excel, we are supporting their career growth and helping them gain the expertise needed to provide exceptional patient care.” 

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