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Pioneering Public-Private Partnership: Training Civilian Students at Travis Air Force Base

By Ronald Reed, CSPDT

As a dedicated professional in the field of Sterile Processing, I am proud to share an exciting development in our industry. Several years ago, I spearheaded the creation of one of the first Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) between a public vocational college in California and the Sterile Processing Department at David Grant Medical Center, located at Travis Air Force Base. This groundbreaking program was designed to provide civilian students with unparalleled training opportunities within a military healthcare environment.

The Genesis of the Partnership

The idea for this partnership stemmed from my desire to bridge the gap between civilian education and military medical practice. I recognized the unique learning environment that a military hospital could offer and saw an opportunity to enhance the educational experiences of our students. With the support of Travis Air Force Base and David Grant Medical Center, we established a program that allowed one civilian student to be trained in all areas of the Sterile Processing Department by a qualified preceptor.

Program Structure and Training

Under this partnership, selected students from our vocational college were given the chance to immerse themselves in the daily operations of a high-functioning sterile processing department. The training program was comprehensive, covering various critical aspects, including:

  • Decontamination: Students learned the importance of proper cleaning techniques and the use of specialized equipment to ensure instruments were free from contaminants.
  • Assembly and Packaging: Training included the meticulous assembly of instrument sets and the correct methods for packaging them for sterilization.
  • Sterilization: Students were taught the different sterilization methods, including steam, ethylene oxide, and low-temperature sterilization techniques.
  • Storage and Distribution: The program also covered the correct procedures for storing sterilized instruments and the logistics of distributing them to various departments within the hospital.

The Role of the Preceptor

A key component of the program was the role of the preceptor. Each student was paired with a seasoned sterile processing professional who provided hands-on training and mentorship. This one-on-one guidance was crucial in helping students apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting, ensuring they were well-prepared for their future careers.

Success Stories

The partnership not only provided invaluable training to our students but also fostered a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect between civilian and military personnel. One of the standout success stories from the program was a student who had faced significant challenges but persevered through the rigorous training. His dedication and hard work earned him high praise from both the college and the staff at David Grant Medical Center.

A Model for Future Collaborations

This Public-Private Partnership serves as a model for future collaborations between educational institutions and military medical facilities. It highlights the benefits of combining resources and expertise to enhance the training and preparedness of future sterile processing technicians.


The establishment of this program marks a significant milestone in the field of Sterile Processing. It exemplifies the potential for innovative training solutions that prepare students for the demands of the profession while fostering collaboration between civilian and military sectors. As we look to the future, I am excited about the possibilities for expanding this model to other institutions and facilities, further strengthening the bridge between education and practical application in sterile processing.

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