Student Portal


Surgical Technology Graduate Expands His Career Path

Edgecombe Community College graduate Quintin Whitehead, who completed the college’s Surgical Technology program in 2014, demonstrates an orthopedic implant device to current Surgical Technology students. Whitehead is a sales associate and surgical technologist with Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company.

Quintin Whitehead is excelling in a career he didn’t know existed a decade ago.

A sales associate and surgical technologist with Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company headquartered in Indiana, Whitehead has a unique perspective in the operating room. He knows surgical instruments, and he understands the devices he sells and how to best implant them. In the OR, surgeons rely on both of his skill sets.

Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment and instruments, and assist doctors during surgeries.

“I started off wanting to be in the medical field but not knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” Whitehead explains. “I looked at different fields, like nursing, and had no idea that surgical technology even existed. I had looked at the college’s course offerings many times, but I never noticed surgical technology.

“My best friend’s uncle was a surgical technologist who graduated from Edgecombe Community College. He told me about the program and recommended it.”

Whitehead began the program when it was under the direction of Linda Harrison, who retired in early 2014. He was a member of current Program Chair Suzi Shippen-Wagner’s first class, graduating in August 2014.

After graduation, he began working as a surgical technologist at the SurgiCenter in Greenville, a position he held for four years. “I saw different surgeries and learned new things every day. I started to specialize in orthopedics. But at the same time, I started to feel like I was reaching a ceiling as a surgical technologist.

“When the opportunity to work for Zimmer Biomet came along, it felt right.” Four years later, he says it still feels right. “As a tech, I knew all of the steps. As a rep, I get to do more. I know all of the steps as well as why a procedure is done in a particular way.”

He works with many of the same surgeons that he assisted at SurgiCenter, surgeons who now view him as a colleague. “I provide the instruments and implant devices for procedures like hip and knee replacements, then show the surgeons how to use the instruments and how to implant our devices. It’s pretty cool.”

Whitehead serves 10 hospitals in Eastern NC. “I’m still doing surgical technology,” he says. “I still come into the OR and set up instruments, but now I’m showing other surg techs how to set up a room. I’m teaching other surg techs. Sometimes I can’t believe my life right now!”

A Tarboro native, he and his wife and their young daughter still call Tarboro home. Whitehead highly recommends ECC’s program in surgical technology.

“I’m so proud of Quintin and his accomplishments,” comments Shippen-Wagner. “He worked very hard in the program and continues to work hard in the field. He is a shining example for all of our graduates.”

Whitehead adds, “I see many students from different colleges, and ECC graduates are the best. Even hospitals can tell the difference. The classes are smaller, and ECC provides more hands-on experience, so graduates are better prepared.”

Surgical Technology is a five-semester degree program at ECC. When students complete the requirements for a diploma, they are qualified to begin working in the field. The remaining courses needed to complete the associate degree are online, and all diploma graduates are expected to successfully complete these additional courses.

“The pandemic and recent retirements have changed the environment for our graduates,” explains Shippen-Wagner. “The local job market used to be tight, but now it is wide open.”

To learn more about Surgical Technology at ECC, please contact Shippen-Wagner at or (252) 618-6738.