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Operating Room Assistant Job Description

Operating room assistants are also known as OR technicians or surgical assistants. They share many of the same job duties, but job description may vary depending on the facility. The primary function of operating room assistants is to help the surgeons during operations. If you want to take a more hands-on role during procedure, a career as an operating room assistant is a great option. Duties performed under surgeon supervision may include:

  • Assisting in maintaining hemostasis by applying direct pressure and using appropriate instruments
  • Cutting and clamping tissue per a surgeon's directions
  • Inserting drainage tubes per a surgeon's instructions
  • Selecting and apply wound dressings
  • Performing any other duties or procedures as directed by a supervising surgeon

There are a large variety of tasks an operating room assistant may perform that are dependent upon the circumstances of the procedure. Operating room assistants may also need to handle any emergencies that arise during the operation.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers certification through successful completion of their Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) exam.* Certification is not required, but recommended by many hospitals. Certification can be a way to improve opportunities, get better benefits and demonstrate commitment to an employer.

Work Conditions

A job as an operating room assistant can put you right in the middle of the action. Work focuses mostly in the operating room, which may be in a hospital, dentist office, clinic or other surgical facility. Regardless of where the operating room is located, most will emphasize cleanliness and order due to the nature of the procedures being done. OR assistants work closely with surgeons and surgical nurses so communication skills are important. This is a good field if you enjoy working with other skilled individuals.

This is a good career path for people who enjoy working with their hands, as it requires dexterity to assist in procedures. Operating room assistants also spend a majority of the job on their feet for many hours at a time. Most operating room assistant jobs are full time and hospitals may require overtime. It is not uncommon for jobs to require being on-call during nights, weekends and holidays.

Job Outlook

This is a good field for you if you are looking for an industry that continues to grow. According to O*Net, approximately 94,000 people were employed as operating room assistants in 2010. That number is likely to increase by up to 40,400 new jobs by 2020. The operating room assistant occupation is also estimated to grow at a faster rate than the national average for all occupations.**

If evolving technology interests you, this is a good field to work in as OR techs work with a wide array of equipment. With rapid advances in technology, operations can now be performed in a wider array of facilities, allowing for more job opportunities. An increase in aging population may also bolster the job market for operating room assistants.

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