What is a Surgical Assistant?

A surgical assistant helps surgeons and nurses during an operation or other medical procedure. This is an ideal career for those who are intrigued by the surgical process, but want to avoid the pressure of performing an actual operation.

A surgical assistant's responsibilities include setting up a patient's chart; sterilizing, assembling, and monitoring the surgical tools needed during surgery; and ensuring the operation room is clean and ready for use.

What does a Surgical Assistant do?

A surgical assistant checking a patient's vital signs in an operating room.

A surgical assistant is given several duties prior to the surgery, during the procedure, and following the operation. Pre-surgery tasks largely involve the cleaning and sterilization of any medical devices or tools. They make sure that these tools are also in proper working order.

Additionally, they are responsible for the preparation of the patients. They interview the patients prior to surgery to learn about their health history and any previous medical conditions. They also set up any charts, x-rays, or patient documentation that is required.

During the procedure, the surgical assistant is a direct aid to the surgeon. They perform basic surgical duties, such as monitoring the electronic equipment and making sure that a patient's vital signs are responding normally. This allows the surgeon to focus on the surgery itself.

Surgical assistants are often asked to perform procedures such as inserting tubes, administering needles, closing wounds, cutting sutures, and sometimes even resuscitating patients who have stopped breathing. Their role requires attention to detail and full concentration, always being ready to provide the surgeon with surgical tools or instruments as they need them. After a surgery has been completed, it is their role to clean and restock the operating room.

Surgical assistants have to be adept at working both independently and in a team environment. Pre-surgery and post-surgery procedures are usually done alone and require self-confidence. Operating procedures are done in small groups that include nurses and surgeons. As a result, surgical assistants must have effective communication skills, a positive attitude, and an ability to correctly and quickly respond to orders.

Are you suited to be a surgical assistant?

Surgical assistants have distinct personalities. They tend to be conventional individuals, which means they’re conscientious and conservative. They are logical, efficient, orderly, and organized. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

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What is the workplace of a Surgical Assistant like?

The majority of surgical assistants work in a hospital setting where numerous surgical procedures occur on a daily basis. They will spend most of the day on their feet and in the operating room.

This is a full-time job, and surgical assistants typically work 40 hours a week. Shifts can be long, depending on the number of patients that are scheduled on a given day. Additionally, weekend and holiday work is also a frequent occurrence.

Surgical Assistants are also known as:
Surgeon's Assistant Surgical First Assistant Licensed Surgical Assistant Certified Surgical First Assistant Surgical Physician Assistant