Teacher and student practice at the sink.

The spring 2018 launch of the new Surgical Technologist certificate program at San Manuel Gateway College welcomed 14 students into the pioneering class of this training program.

The positive career outlook for surgical technologists drove the decision for San Manuel Gateway College to offer this new program. 

“All of our certificate programs are developed based on job growth and job attainment in the Inland Empire,” said Arwyn Wild, MA, executive director of San Manuel Gateway College, which is part of Loma Linda University Health’s San Bernardino campus.

Surgical technologists work side-by-side with doctors and nurses in the operating room and in caring for pre- and post-operative patients.

“Our students will be a part of the surgical team that makes an immediate difference in the lives of people they serve,” Wild said. 

Abraham Ragudo has joined San Manuel Gateway College to direct the surgical tech program. “I see a future full of expanding possibilities for our students,” he said.

Since he joined the surgical technology profession in 1993, the opportunities have only grown.   

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 12 percent growth in the field of surgical technology from 2016 to 2026, while Salary.com estimates the mean salary for surgical technologists in San Bernardino at about $47,000. Wild notes that the pay scale tops out at $60,000–65,000.

Surgical technologists may assist in all surgical specialties, helping heal patients from head to foot.

“It’s a great privilege to participate in surgery,” Ragudo said. “I don’t think most people understand that surgical technologists work right next to or across from the surgeons.”

After a clinical career serving across the spectrum of surgical tech roles, Ragudo helped establish a surgical technology program in the San Diego Community College District, where he discovered his passion to educate students and show them all they can achieve.

A son of immigrants, Ragudo was interested in anatomy and physiology from a young age, but he didn’t think a career in the surgical arena was achievable for someone of his background. But it was. 

The opportunities are open.

Who can become a surgical technologist?

Ragudo notes that there are certain traits helpful to have in surgical technology. A natural interest in biology and the sciences is key, he said, along with the ability to handle working around blood and body cavities. 

Surgical techs should possess both physical and mental stamina, and they must be able to thrive, establish priorities and execute needed tasks in stressful situations. They must have the passion and drive to dedicate themselves to the 18-month training program.

Programs at San Manuel Gateway College

The Surgical Technologist program is the college’s third offering for certificate training in healthcare careers, joining the Medical Assistant program (launched in autumn 2016) and the Pharmacy Technician program (launched in autumn 2017). A Certified Nursing Assistant program is coming soon. Additionally, the Promotores Academy, a part of San Manuel Gateway College, offers training for community health workers. 

Located at the San Bernardino campus of Loma Linda University Health, the college opened in 2016 to provide healthcare vocational training to young adults in the region, preparing them for jobs that can support them financially, allowing them to give back to their communities, and giving them a stepping-stone to further higher education. 

Learn more


Phone: 855-558-1100

Email: sanmanuelgatewaycollege@llu.edu


“Condition yourself. It will be
uncomfortable in the beginning.
But you will get used to it.”