Melissa Arant knew in high school that she wanted to work in an operating room, but she just didn’t see herself behind the scalpel. During her first year at Macomb, however, the Anchor Bay high school graduate made a timely discovery.
“I’ve always been intrigued by surgery, but I didn’t know I could get a job in surgery without becoming a surgeon,” says Arant. “I was working as a nursing assistant and taking my prereq classes for nursing when my counselor told me about the Surgical Technology Program.”
Arant appreciated the detailed instruction and mentoring she received from Liz Ness, the program’s coordinator and lead faculty member. An internship at a hospital honed Arant’s skills even further. When she graduated in 2006, she was hired by Bon Secours (now Beaumont) Hospital in Grosse Pointe.
“The surg tech program at Macomb is exceptional, and Liz Ness is awesome” says Arant. “I was definitely prepared for the job.”
A surgical technologist is a scrubbed, gowned and gloved member of the surgical team, responsible for sterilizing, arranging and handing surgical instruments to the surgeon. Arant enjoyed the diversity and pace of the job, but after a few years began thinking about the next career move. That’s when she returned to Macomb to earn her nursing degree.
“I’m glad I didn’t go into nursing first because I wouldn’t have gotten such hands-on experience in the operating room,” says Arant, now afternoon charge nurse in the surgical department at Beaumont. “If it wasn’t for Liz and the surg tech program, I might not be here. I’m responsible for making sure the surgical team has everything they need for the different types of operations.”
The work, Arant says, “is never boring.” And it’s rewarding to know that her attention to detail makes the operating room safe and efficient for both surgeons and patients. Arant’s weekly schedule of three 12-hour shifts complements her husband Jeremy’s as a radiographer, so either mom or dad is home with daughters Lila, 5, and Ava, 2. And although she has a full-time job and a young family, Arant continues to look for opportunities to advance, recently adding Certified Operating Room Nurse to her credentials.
“I always want to keep moving forward and learning more,” says Arant, who will likely pursue a bachelor’s degree once her daughters are older. “My main job is facilitating the operating room work flow, but if they need a surg tech, because we don’t have enough of them, I gladly fill in.”