What’s Right With Our Schools: Sterile Processing at Howard


CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) – The Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation has added a Sterile Processing Pathway for students at Howard. It’s an intensive curriculum that also exposes students to opportunities in medical research and innovation.

Nina Deaton is the Future Ready Institute Coordinator at Howard.

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She explains, “This is the sterile process pathway. It is under the umbrella of the Erlanger Institute of healthcare and innovation here at the Howard school. We need it to find a pathway so that we can give kids once they are gone through the courses, certain specialties to go through.

Michelle Powell, Health Innovation Coordinator at Erlanger adds, “A sterile processing technician is a person who is certified to clean, sterilize and process surgical instruments. They are instrumental in the world of operating rooms and surgical suites. Whether it is outpatient or inpatient setting, and the students are also learning a lot about medical innovations and biomedical research.”

It’s a lesson that is not lost on students like Curtaelynn Martin.

The Howard junior says, “I see myself going very far in my future. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been in this program. I’ve learned a lot about microbiology and radiation.”

Fellow junior Wuison Morales chips in, “I just feel like and truly believe that this program will actually help me become someone and help other people in the healthcare.”

Junior Jamesha Owens says, “This will like go on my school record thing. To show that I have already done learned most of the stuff while I was in school so when I go to college I will not have a problem.”

Michelle Powell explains, “Most of our students in this pathway currently are at home. They are Howard at home students, and then, we have several that are in person. So what we try to do is re-create the best we can for students at home to see what hands on skills we are doing inside of the classroom.”

Waltkia Clay is one of those students working from home.

She says, “It’s a few more things that I want to learn. I wish I could be more close to forensic science because that is what I want my career to be, but this is really a big help.”

Michelle adds, “These students won’t only be workforce ready but they will be college ready as well through dual enrollment and honors classes these students are really advanced and their academics and in the real world working.”

Nina goes over the bottom line, “So they sterile processing usually the rate is $15 an hour, yeah that’s really amazing. Now, students will have the opportunity to work while they go to college, in a job that is medically oriented. So some of them that want to be doctors or whatever this is a foot in the door.”