Surgical Assistants

Assist surgeons during surgery by performing duties such as tissue retraction, insertion of tubes and intravenous lines, or closure of surgical wounds. Perform preoperative and postoperative duties to facilitate patient care.

Median Annual Wage: $41,420

Education: Associate's degree (25%); Post-baccalaureate certificate (16%); Post-secondary certificate (15%)

Projected Growth: Much faster than average (22% or higher)

Related Job Titles: Certified Surgical Technician; Certified First Assistant (CFA); Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA); Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA); Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA); Gastrointestinal Technician (GI Technician); Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA); Surgical First Assistant; Surgical Scrub Technician (Surgical Scrub Tech); Surgical Technician (Surgical Tech)

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Surgical Assistants.

More Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Careers

  • Monitor and maintain aseptic technique throughout procedures.
  • Cover patients with surgical drapes to create and maintain a sterile operative field.
  • Coordinate or participate in the positioning of patients, using body stabilizing equipment or protective padding to provide appropriate exposure for the procedure or to protect against nerve damage or circulation impairment.
  • Maintain an unobstructed operative field, using surgical retractors, sponges, or suctioning and irrigating equipment.
  • Apply sutures, staples, clips, or other materials to close skin, facia, or subcutaneous wound layers.
  • Prepare and apply sterile wound dressings.
  • Discuss with surgeon the nature of the surgical procedure, including operative consent, methods of operative exposure, diagnostic or laboratory data, or patient-advanced directives or other needs.
  • Determine availability of necessary equipment or supplies for operative procedures.
  • Clamp, ligate, or cauterize blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry, using hemostatic clamps, suture ligatures, or electrocautery equipment.
  • Assess skin integrity or other body conditions upon completion of the procedure to determine if damage has occurred from body positioning.
  • Assist with patient resuscitation during cardiac arrest or other life-threatening events.
  • Obtain or inspect sterile or non-sterile surgical equipment, instruments, or supplies.
  • Operate sterilizing devices.
  • Pass instruments or supplies to surgeon during procedure.
  • Monitor patient intra-operative status, including patient position, vital signs, or volume and color of blood.
  • Assist in the insertion, positioning, or suturing of closed-wound drainage systems.
  • Gather, arrange, or assemble instruments or supplies.
  • Assist members of surgical team with gowning or gloving.
  • Coordinate with anesthesia personnel to maintain patient temperature.
  • Adjust and maintain operating room temperature, humidity, or lighting, according to surgeon's specifications.
  • Assist in applying casts, splints, braces, or similar devices.
  • Transport patients to operating room.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Surgical Assistants.

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Surgical Assistants.

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