Is becoming a surgical assistant right for me?

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What do surgical assistants do?
Career Satisfaction
Are surgical assistants happy with their careers?
What are surgical assistants like?

Still unsure if becoming a surgical assistant is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a surgical assistant or another similar career!

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How to become a Surgical Assistant

To become a surgical assistant, there are specific steps and requirements that need to be followed. The following is a general outline of the process:

  • Education: Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. A strong foundation in science subjects like biology and anatomy is beneficial for a career as a surgical assistant.
  • Training Program: Enroll in a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These programs can be at the certificate, diploma, or degree level. The program typically takes 9 to 24 months to complete and includes both classroom instruction and clinical training.
  • Clinical Experience: Complete the required clinical rotations as part of the surgical technology program. This hands-on experience provides practical training in the operating room, allowing students to develop essential skills under the supervision of experienced surgical professionals.
  • Certification: After graduating from an accredited program, individuals can pursue certification as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) or Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA). Certification typically involves passing a standardized exam (see below).
  • Licensure: Some states require surgical assistants to be licensed to practice. The specific licensure requirements vary by state. It is important to research and comply with the licensing regulations of the state in which you plan to practice.
  • Continuing Education: Maintain certification by fulfilling continuing education requirements, which typically involve completing a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) or participating in professional development activities.

There are two primary certifications available for surgical assistants:

  • Certified Surgical Technologist (CST): Offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), the CST certification is designed for surgical technologists who assist in surgical procedures. To obtain this certification, individuals must meet eligibility requirements, which include completing an accredited surgical technology program or a certain amount of work experience, and passing the CST exam.
  • Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA): The Certified Surgical First Assistant certification is provided by the National Surgical Assistant Association (NSAA). It is specifically designed for surgical assistants who perform advanced tasks, such as suturing incisions, controlling bleeding, and providing exposure of the surgical site. Eligibility requirements for the CSFA certification typically include completing an accredited surgical assisting program and passing the CSFA exam.