HATTIESBURG - The National Board of Surgical Technoloy and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) recently awarded Pearl River Community College its annual Merit Award. The award honors the college because 100 percent of the PRCC surgical technology graduates who took the national certification exam in 2011 passed. "This is really, really rare," said Dr. Cecil Burt, PRCC vice president for Forrest County operations. The PRCC surgical technology program offers a one-year certificate of proficiency or the two-year associate in applied science degree. Students are eligible to take the Certified Surgical Technology exam only after completing the program. "I am proud of all our former students who have taken and passed the national certification exam," said Tammy Allhoff, program director. "Currently certification is voluntary at some facilities but I would love for this to be mandatory because it helps promote the profession and the role of the surgical technologist. I am excited that we were able to achieve national recognition for our program because we want all of our graduates to become certified and for all of our students to achieve success." Twenty-two students are enrolled in the program, which starts each January, and 14 graduated in December. Since 2010, taking the exam has been part of the PRCC program requirements. The NBSTA has a 40-year history in developing the certified surgical technologist exam, according to NBSTSA chief executive officer Ron Kruzel. The exam is the only surgical technologist exam accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Certification as a surgical technologist exhibits professional pride, the desire to be recognized for mastery of surgical competencies and, most importantly, an on-going commitment to quality patient care, according to Kruzel. The NBSTSA did not tell PRCC officials how many PRCC graduates took the exam in 2011, Allhoff said. For information about the PRCC surgical technology program, contact Allhoff at 601 554-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the program secretary at 601 554-5507.