MGH and BWH partner with Bunker Hill Community College to provide
educational and credentialing opportunity for Central Processing Technicians.
The leaders of MGH and BWH Central Processing Departments have partnered with
Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) to provide a unique and valuable opportunity
to their central processing technicians. Central Processing Technicians are responsible for
performing cleaning, disinfection, sterilization and inventory management activities
within operating suites, procedure rooms, inpatient settings and ambulatory surgical
centers. Many of the individuals currently in Central Processing roles are long-term
employees who were trained on the job, and did not attend formal academic programs
leading to certification. While certification is fairly new, and not yet legally required,
MGH and BWH are leading the way to assure that their employees have access to the
highest level of education, training and credentials in their field. This type of training is a
“win-win.” Employees are offered professional growth and development, while Partners
hospitals continue to provide the highest possible standards for patient care.
With a great deal of support from hospital leadership, O.R. management, H.R. and
Workforce Development specialists at both affiliates, a total of 30 Central processing
technicians completed a 15-week course in central processing which has led to 29
candidates to date sitting for and passing the Certification Board for Sterile Processing
and Distribution, (CBSPD)- the national certification exam for their profession. One last
graduate is scheduled to sit for the exam in May 2007. This is no small feat. According to
Max Gomez, Administrative Manager of the Sterile Processing Department at MGH, “of
the 95 central processing techs (63 under O.R. Administration and 32 under the
Department of Nursing) working in the department, only 9 were previously certified.”
MGH can now add 14 newly certified technicians to that group, and plans to continue the
trend. Mr. Gomez and Agnes Flaherty, Director, Sterile Processing Department, are very
dedicated to this program and MGH plans to run two onsite classes annually to assure
that anyone on their staff that is interested in reaching this goal has the opportunity to do
so right in their workplace. The classes will also continue at BWH, where one class a
year is planned.
In order to participate in the program, students must first pass a Computerized Placement
exam through the college, which rates an individual’s ability to read for comprehension.
Onsite preparatory courses as well as the assessment tests were offered onsite at both
hospitals. Judy Riley, Manager of Operations, Central Processing Department, BWH
O.R., said “it’s important to remember that most of these people trained on the job many
years ago, and hadn’t been enrolled in a formal academic program for a very long time.”
Ms. Riley also reported that a good portion of her 70 plus central processing technicians
have been on the job for over thirty years. The idea of returning to school was very scary,
according to Ms. Riley. “We helped folks face their fears, which were generally around
math, and now that they have successfully completed the program, they are ‘pumped’!”
According to Ms. Riley, working with the 16 individuals that completed BWH’s first
class was a true pleasure. She said that there were many unexpected benefits to the
program including improved department moral, increased communication and trust
between department management and staff, as well as shared learning opportunities
between management and staff. In addition, class participants showed increased self-
esteem and three to four of the participants have stated that their newly awakened
confidence in their ability to learn will lead them to further their educational pursuits.
One participant stated, “I forgot how much I liked numbers.” This participant is now
considering returning to school to study for an MBA.
Designing and maintaining a program such as this takes a great deal of creativity, support
and dedication from the organization and its people. Classes were paid for upfront with
Workforce Development dollars at both facilities. Tuition cost was up to $750 per
student. Books and fees were also covered, as was the cost of the certification exam and
exam prep review sessions. In addition, both hospitals provided paid release time and/or
flexible scheduling to facilitate class attendance at the weekly, 3-hour sessions. MGH
also provided rides to employees to take the certifying exam at a testing facility in East
The support and dedication paid off. All 29 students that have taken the national
certification exam to date have passed it. This is in strong contrast to a program offered
online through Purdue University in 2004 at MGH. That program had low participation
rates and poor outcomes. Students were not monitored as they completed online
assignments and tests, and were ill prepared to sit for the national exam. Mr. Gomez and
Ms. Riley credit the success of the new onsite model with expert and attentive instruction
from Bunker Hill professor, Jayne MacPherson. Boosted by all of the hospital supports
mentioned above, students were engaged and motivated to succeed. Additionally, the
onsite cohort model provided an invaluable peer support system. Students worked and
studied together and were each others’ best cheerleaders.
Mr. Gomez and Ms. Riley both stated that their central processing technicians have
always been known to be professional, dedicated and knowledgeable. Their work is
meaningful, and they provide safe and efficient patient care. Now, according to Mr.
Gomez, the new graduates “have the credential to prove it.” Both hospitals celebrated this
achievement with well-deserved graduation and certification celebrations.
Mr. Gomez and Ms. Riley would like to thank all responsible for the success of this
unique program. At MGH, the leadership and support of H.R. V.P. Jeff Davis was crucial
in securing program funding. Carlene Krey, RN, Clinical Service Coordinator for the
Main O.R. and Instrument Room at MGH, helped to guide her staff to successful
completion of the program. Helen Witherspoon and Carlyene Prince-Erickson of MGH
Training and Workforce Development provided guidance and support to leadership and
participants. And finally, thanks to Mark Clementi, Karen Jaroz and Marie Pendergast
from Partners Human Resources who helped to implement a new career laddering system
to help reward and motivate program participants.
At BWH, Beverley Sobers, Director of Workforce Development and her staff were
instrumental in getting the program off the ground. Additionally, O.R. leadership
provided guidance and support. Key people included: Carole Kubiak, RN, Assistant
Nurse Manager for the O.R., Lynn Dockser-Cornell, O.R. CSS Director, Helen Cluett,
RN, O.R. Nurse Educator, and Claire Fitzgerald-O’Shea, Nurse Manager, O.R. Rosalyn
Pendleton of WorkSource Partners, Inc. provided career coaching to participants. Finally,
Barbara Rosenberg, of BHCC Workforce Development Department helped to customize
the program to meet MGH and BWH needs.
The combined efforts of all of these people and many others are most appreciated by all
who have benefited from the program. Such efforts truly demonstrate the teamwork,
dedication and support that it takes to create an environment truly deserving of the
distinction: “Employer of Choice”