Nurses from Puerto Rico Studying in Polk’s Robotic Surgery Credential Program

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

The fifth session of Polk State’s Robotic Surgery Credential is comprised almost entirely of nursing professors from Puerto Rico, taking the year-old program in an international direction.

The Robotic Surgery Credential Program, developed through a partnership between the College and Winter Haven Hospital, provides formalized training for licensed registered nurses and technicians who participate in robot-assisted surgeries.

The program launched in Aug. 2012, becoming the first of its kind in the world.

Participants in the program complete online assignments before reporting to Winter Haven Hospital for three days of training using its da Vinci Surgical System. Topics covered include sterilizing the robotic surgery equipment and properly positioning patients for procedures.

Of the eight participants in the session that started Friday, seven are nursing instructors from the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico.

“This shows that word of the program is spreading — across international borders even — and that we’re providing expertise and knowledge that is in demand well beyond our typical service area,” said Polk State Nursing Director Annette Hutcherson.

Though this session is unlike any before for the program — previous participants have mostly hailed from Florida — Hutcherson said the only change that was made was to secure a Spanish-speaking translator.

In Puerto Rico, robotic surgery is increasingly common, said Annette Vega, a nursing instructor at the university’s Arecibo campus, adding she and her colleagues learned of the program via an Internet search.

“We have four big hospitals with the da Vinci system,” she said.

“We are hoping to develop a robotic surgery training program for nursing students because they will need that preparation.”

Angela de Jesus Alicea, dean of studies at the university’s Guayama campus, said Polk State’s program will serve as a model for InterAmerican.

The current Robotic Surgery Credential class continues an international theme at the College. In 2013 alone, students have studied in Europe and the Bahamas, and the second class of Scholarobotics Academy — a summer program for high school students that focuses on robotic surgery — just presented research in France.

Polk State’s Nursing Program is one of several Health Sciences programs offered by the College. The Nursing Program offers Associate in Science and Bachelor of Science degrees. Other Polk State Health Sciences programs include Cardiovascular Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Emergency Medical Services, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapist Assistant, Radiography and Respiratory Care.