Alumni Success – Zaley Lumpkin ’88 Consults on Surgical Technologist Procedures in Hallmark Movie

MANCHESTER, Conn.  (October 5, 2021) – Zaley Lumpkin ’88, of Windsor, remembers earning her associate degree in surgical technology from Manchester Community College and thinking it would be great to teach others to enter the field one day.

The 33-year veteran surgical technologist, who is now clinical coordinator and instructor in the college’s program, can add another credential to her resume: movie script consultant.

Lumpkin, along with Timothy Gregus ’10 – who is also an instructor in the program – and Terry Kennedy, MCC program director, provided expertise to ensure that an operating room scene played out accurately in the upcoming Hallmark Channel holiday special, “Next Stop, Christmas.” The feature film debuts at the end of October.

Lumpkin was enlisted to lead the consultation because of her experience in neurologic surgery.

The actual scene is just three minutes long, but it took hours to film, as the crew – along with Lumpkin — worked into the wee hours of the morning. “It was exciting to see how many people were involved and to watch it all come together.”

The scene was filmed in Hartford Hospital’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI), where MCC surgical technologists are given hands-on, real-world preparation for their certification exams.

“We consulted with the producers on how to handle instruments, the proper positioning of hands to maintain a sterile environment, and the proper way to set up the operating room with draping over the patient and positioning of the anesthesiologist,” Lumpkin said. “”They wanted it to be authentic.”

She did not expect, however, that she may end up appearing in the scene, assuming her role as an extra makes it into the final cut of the movie. “You may see my blue-gloved hands passing instruments,” she said.

Lumpkin added that the changes in the field since she graduated MCC have been as dramatic as the movie scene. “The technology has changed tremendously,” she said. “When I started, laparoscopic surgery was just coming into the operating room, and now we are using robotics.”

Nonetheless, she feels that her training at MCC laid the foundation for her advancement in the changing field and today, in her role as clinical trainer, she sees that this attitude among the faculty remains true.

“The professors are always there for you — always wanting you to succeed,” she said.  “The same is true of the hospital instructors. And with the CESI facilities at Hartford Hospital, students are training on the latest equipment, including da Vinci surgical robotics systems. They not only pass their certification exams, but they come out with job-ready skills and are employed at major operating facilities around the state. It is a great career opportunity.”

About the Surgical Technology Program

The MCC /Hartford Hospital Surgical Technology program is a two-year associate degree program that prepares graduates to handle the instruments, supplies and equipment necessary for a surgical procedure. Surgical technology students are taught sequentially, with concepts from basic to complex, in order to provide the student with the knowledge base essential to perform in their role as an entry-level surgical technologist and a member of a surgical team in the perioperative care of patients. Required non-core surgical technology courses are held on the MCC campus, and core surgical technology courses and clinical rotations are offered on the Hartford Hospital campus and within Hartford Healthcare System facilities.