Several years ago at a surgical technology national conference, Western Iowa Tech Community College instructor Renee Nemitz, an Aurelia native, mentioned to a publisher that there was a need for a different approach in presenting the vast array of instruments used in procedures.
From that conversation, Nemitz began the process of creating a new textbook and CD-ROM, called "Surgical Instrumentation, An Interactive Approach," that is now being used at WITCC, in other U.S. colleges, in Mexico, and internationally.
What Nemitz wanted to accomplish was a clear explanation of common surgical instruments accompanied by high-definition photos that would show such minutia as the number of grooves in the metal.
"There are literally thousands of instruments that can be used in a surgical procedure, not to mention the specialties of cardiovascular, orthopedic and ob-gyn," she explained. "I started with a list of reviewers across the country to provide me with input on the most common instruments that should be included in the textbook."
"Marsha McArthur, product manager of surgical instruments at Integra LifeSciences Corporation, allowed us access to the instruments for the photographs," she said. "Stryker Corporation, Miltex, Autosuture and ACMI were other companies that had instruments photographed."
Once the instruments for the book had been decided on, then Nemitz began the process of identifying, categorizing, describing and providing insights on each instrument.
"When we first thought about this project, I figured it would take a year to a year and a half to complete," she said. "It took three years, based on the volume of instruments we wanted to catalogue."
Details on each item had to be succinct.
"I had to ask myself what information had to be included and how to get the students to 'get it' when they read the explanations," she said. "There's no way any program can feasibly afford to have all of these instruments available for the students to see and touch. The book had to serve as the replacement."
While Nemitz was working on the text, the interactive CD was also being produced to accompany the textbook.
"This was not a video, but still pictures that showed the instrument, then rotated it 360 degrees," she pointed out. "We also had a voice-over for the correct pronunciation of each instrument, instrument demonstrations, flash cards and timed audio recognitions."
Nemitz even appears in some of the more complicated instruments' demonstrations, although she's unrecognizable.
"It's my hand," she said pointing to the computer screen while viewing the CD.
The textbook was completed March 28. It went into a second printing September 28. In the 275 pages: 466 instruments.
Nemitz uses the textbook in WITCC's Surgical Technology Program with profits from the sales at the community college going to WITCC's Scholarship Fund.
WITCC students praised the presentation of the information, acknowledging that not all of their other textbooks were as clear and precise.
"I think the text has good pictures, good descriptions and good categories," said WITCC student Ellie Ruter of Ireton, Iowa. "It's a lot of information, but we go over it in sections and that helps."
"I agree," said Michelle Westhoff who was standing next to Ruter. "I also like that the information has the other names that the instrument might be called at another hospital."
Nemitz decided to include the alternate references because the text is used all over the United States.
"That way if a student hears the other name, it won't come as a surprise to them," she said.
Nemitz is the daughter of Dick and Marilyn Kreisel of Aurelia and a 1984 graduate of Aurelia High School.