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Introducing Our Experts: 3 Questions with Surgical Technology Program Coordinator Krista Vylasek, CST, BS

After graduating from the Rasmussen College Surgical Technologist Associate’s degree program at the Brooklyn Park/Maple Grove campus in 2012, Krista Vylasek returned to Rasmussen College as an adjunct faculty member. While teaching, Vylasek also pursued her Health and Wellness Bachelor’s degree at Rasmussen College and was promoted into the role of program coordinator. Vylasek uses her firsthand student experience to relate to and encourage her students.

How did you first get involved in Surgical Technology?

Surgical Technology Instructor Krsita VylasekIn 2010 I was helping my oldest son, who was just getting ready to graduate from high school, look for a program he’d be interested in. Although I was helping him, when I was flipping through Rasmussen College’s course catalog, I came across the Surgical Technologist Associate’s degree program and there was just something about reading the description that really excited and inspired me and I knew I wanted to pursue it.

I always had an interest in healthcare. Out of high school, I joined the Navy to be a hospital corpsman but transitioned into a role in intelligence that I served for many years. After my husband and I finished our military careers, we moved to Minnesota and started our family and for many years I stayed busy caring for our four sons. When my youngest son turned eight, it felt like the right time for me to go back to school and pursue a new career. 

My kids only knew me as “mom” so they thought it was cool to see me venturing out and pursuing something new. From my example, I hope they know it is really never too late to go to school and try something new. It was positive for them to see me get back out there and work on bettering myself. I hope it was an inspiring experience for them.

What does your role as program coordinator entail?

In my current role as program coordinator, I oversee the more than 40 students currently enrolled in our Surgical Technologist Associate’s degree program. The role entails lots of managing and tending to the needs of the students and faculty; however, I still find time to teach. I currently teach all of the lab courses while juggling the constant communication and coordination with our students’ clinical sites.

As an educator, I thrive on watching my students’ progress through the program. Before my very eyes they transform from students into professional surgical technologists. It is a feeling of pride and joy I can’t describe. There is no better feeling than getting a text message from a student currently in clinicals exclaiming how exciting their day was or observing a student excel during a surgery. It is truly amazing to watch learning occur.

What did receiving the 2019 Chris Keegan Memorial Educator’s Scholarship Award mean to you?

Annually, since 2005, the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) awards a surgical technology or surgical assisting educator the Chris Keegan Memorial Educator’s Scholarship Award. The award highlights the recipient’s commitment to the advancement of the surgical technology and surgical assisting fields and their dedication to continuing their education. The ARC/STSA Scholarship Program is designed to assist educators pursuing academic degrees with the intent of furthering their career in the field.

Chris Keegan was very active in the surgical technology community and before her death she dedicated her life to advancing the field. This year, I am thrilled and very honored to receive this award in Chris’ memory. I am currently enrolled in a Master of Health Science and Healthcare Education degree program to grow and enhance the educator and leadership aspects of my role. It is incredible to win the scholarship, and I am very excited to advance my education. I plan to continue to carry on Chris’ vision and passion for the field and the bettering of students.

Hannah Burn

Hannah is a Sr. Communications Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She loves to share stories and hopes that her content inspires others to pursue their educational goals.

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