Surgical Assistants

Also called: Assistant-at-Surgery, Certified First Assistant (CFA), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA), Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA)

Varies

estimated salary

Surgical assistants help in operations, under the supervision of surgeons. May, in accordance with state laws, help surgeons to make incisions and close surgical sites, manipulate or remove tissues, implant surgical devices or drains, suction the surgical site, place catheters, clamp or cauterize vessels or tissue, and apply dressings to the surgical site.

  • Verify the identity of patient or operative site.
  • 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.
  • Prepare and apply sterile wound dressings.
  • Apply sutures, staples, clips, or other materials to close skin, facia, or subcutaneous wound layers.
  • 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.
  • Assist members of surgical team with gowning or gloving.
  • Gather, arrange, or assemble instruments or supplies.
  • 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.
  • Remove patient hair or disinfect incision sites to prepare patient for surgery.
  • Incise tissue layers in lower extremities to harvest veins.
  • Postoperatively inject a subcutaneous local anesthetic agent to reduce pain.
  • Insert or remove urinary bladder catheters.
  • Assist in volume replacement or autotransfusion techniques.
Work Context
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 100% responded "Every day".
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 92% responded "Every day".
  • Physical Proximity — 89% responded "Very close (near touching)".
  • Contact With Others — 81% responded "Constant contact with others".
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 81% responded "Extremely important".
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 78% responded "Extremely important".
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 72% responded "Continually or almost continually".
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Work Activities
  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
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Detailed Work Activities
  • Operate on patients to treat conditions.
  • Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery.
  • Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery.
  • Maintain sterile operative fields.
  • Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
  • Operate on patients to treat conditions.
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Knowledge

Medicine and Dentistry
  • Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Customer and Personal Service
  • Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
English Language
  • Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
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Skills

Active Listening
  • Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
  • Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension
  • Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Monitoring
  • Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
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Abilities

Oral Comprehension
  • The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Near Vision
  • The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Finger Dexterity
  • The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
  • The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
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Personality

People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
  • Achievement/Effort
  • Persistence
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Cooperation
  • Concern for Others
  • Social Orientation
  • Self Control
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Technology

You might use software like this on the job:

Operating system software
  • Palm OS Hot Technology
Medical software
  • MEDITECH software Hot Technology
  • Surgery workflow communication software
  • Supply documentation software
  • Patient tracking software
  • Patient scheduling software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • Nursing documentation software
Spreadsheet software
  • Microsoft Excel Hot Technology
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Education

Get started on your career:

Job Outlook

New job opportunities are very likely in the future.
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