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From Retail To The OR, Surgical Technology Grad Thrives In New Career

From retail to the OR, surgical technology grad thrives in new career

When an unexpected divorce left Amberly Vernatti a single mother to three children, she knew a career change was in order. Her retail job wasn’t going to cut it anymore. She needed a new career, and fast.

Amberly is now a surgical technologist at CoxHealth in Springfield. She spends her days bringing babies into the world alongside OB-GYNs in the Labor and Delivery operating room. She says her new career allows her to provide for her family as a single mother. More importantly, it fulfils a lifelong calling.

“When I was 9 years old, my mom let me take part in my baby sister’s birth, so that got the bug going,” Amberly explained. “And then, I became a mother myself, and it was the greatest experience of my life. I knew I wanted to be a part of that for others.”

Amberly briefly attended college after high school, which meant she had earned most of her prerequisites by the time she decided to apply for OTC’s Surgical Technology Program. Nine months later, she graduated with an associate degree. She also had a job waiting for her in Cox’s Labor and Delivery Department.

“Surgical technologists are in high demand both locally and nationally, and that’s another big reason I picked this field,” Amberly said. “Recruiters were visiting our classes all the time. Pretty much all of us had a job lined up several months prior to graduation.”

OTC graduates approximately 20 surgical technology students each year. Nearly all of these students find employment in the field upon graduation, primarily at CoxHealth and Mercy hospitals. Amberly says the program prepared her for life on the job.

“I loved that it had extensive clinical requirements,” she said. “I had to complete over 120 cases in the OR before I graduated. So that’s where I really got to hone in on my skills.”

In a typical work week, Amberly clocks three 12-hour days with three to six surgeries during each shift. She says Labor and Delivery surgeries are quite different from the other specialty surgeries at the hospital.

“Our patients are often awake throughout the entire process,” she explained. “So in addition to assisting the surgeons with C-sections, I also comfort the patients and help relieve their anxiety during surgery.”

When looking back on her journey through OTC’s Surgical Technology Program, Amberly says it was everything she needed to get where she is today.

“I was looking for a degree that was accelerated, high-paying and in-demand. This program easily met all of those requirements,” she said. “It helped me build a new life for my family. For that, I’m thankful.”

About OTC’s Surgical Technology Program

OTC’s Surgical Technology Program trains its graduates to work in operating rooms, physician practices, dentist offices or on transplant teams. Surgical technologists assemble sterile fields for surgical procedures, pass instruments to surgeons, assist with patient transport and help with operating room turnover.

For more information about OTC’s Surgical Technology Program, contact the college’s Allied Health Department at or 417-447-8803.

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