What does a surgical assistant do?

Physicians and other primary care providers often depend upon a variety of trained technologists, aides and assistants. A description of a surgical assistant follows:

Surgical assistants aid the surgeon in performing surgical procedures, positioning patients for surgery, draping and preparing the operative site, and retracting and exposing the operative field during the procedure. The surgical assistant secures the best possible exposure of the anatomy incident to the operative procedure. The skilled surgical assistant anticipates the moves and needs of the surgeon.

What might a surgical assistant do in a workday?

  • confirm procedures with surgeons.
  • determine specific equipment needed per procedure.
  • review permit to confirm procedure and special needs.
  • clamp and cut tissue per surgeon’s directive.
  • maintain integrity of sterile field.
  • perform any other duties or procedures incident to the surgical procedure deemed necessary and as directed by the surgeon.

Developing a Career as a Surgical Assistant:

The surgical assistant also performs preoperative and postoperative duties to better facilitate proper patient care. During the operation, the surgical assistant works under the direction and supervision of the surgeon and in accordance with hospital policy and appropriate laws and regulations. Certified surgical assistants assist in a variety of surgical specialties.

How much does a surgical assistant make?

  • $50,000 - $75,000

How do I become a surgical assistant?

It is preferred that those interested in becoming a certified surgical assistant complete baccalaureate education in the area of biology, chemistry, nursing, exercise science or allied health. Prior operating experience is not required as an entry requirement to the surgical assisting program.

Where else can I learn about becoming a surgical assistant?

National Surgical Assistant Association
2615 Amesbury Road / Winston-Salem, NC 27103
tel:  (336) 768-4443 or (888) 633-0479 / web:  www.nsaa.net

Virginia Association of Surgical Assistants
700 West Olney Road / Norfolk, VA 23507-1607
tel:  (757) 446-6100

American Board of Surgical Assistants
26221 E. Kettle Circle / Aurora, CO 80016-2020
tel:  (303) 617-8345 or (877) 617-8345 / web:  www.absa.net

American College of Surgeons
633 North Saint Clair Street / Chicago, IL 60611-3211
tel:  (800) 621-4111 / web:  www.facs.org

Educational Institutions in Virginia for Surgical Assistants: