Surgical Tech

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Surgical Assistant Job Description

Surgical assistants share many of the same job duties as surgery techs, but have a more hands-on role during the procedure. As a surgical assistant, you can have the opportunity to assist surgeons in a wide range of intraoperative functions. In addition to preoperative and postoperative duties, surgical assistants may perform the following tasks under the direct supervision of a surgeon or surgical nurse:

  • Applying or removing splints and casts
  • Placing Foley catheters, IVs and arterial lines
  • Administering local anesthesia
  • Clamping vessels, cutting tissue and closing wounds
  • Various surgical duties as requested and necessary

It is not mandatory to become certified, though it may help to impress potential employers. There are several agencies you can go through, but the most commonly used is the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). The NBSTSA requires successful completion of the Certified Surgical First Assistant exam.* Certification can show that you take pride in your work and are willing to do more than just the minimum expected.

Work Conditions

If you've dreamed of helping in surgeries, surgical assistants work closely with the surgeons in the operating room. Operating rooms are mostly clean and controlled environments, but may have high levels of pressure. This is good for people who thrive under busy circumstances and have high expectations. Surgical assistants also spend a good amount of time on their feet, meaning you won't be stuck behind a desk all day.

The majority of surgical assistants is employed at hospitals, but may find work at any facility performing surgeries. You can also work at ambulatory surgery centers and with transplant doctors, or other facilities that may employ surgical assistants.

If you want to have your nights free, most surgical procedures are performed during the day. Although, some hospitals require surgical assistants to be on-call during weekends, night and holidays.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the surgical assistant field should see a healthy growth from 2010 to 2020.** An estimated 19 percent growth can be attributed to an aging populace that requires more surgical procedures. Innovations in surgery techniques and technology, such as fiber optics and laser surgery, may also aid demand for surgical assistants.

Fast employment growth is expected in outpatient care centers, physicians' offices and ambulatory surgical centers. However, most surgical assistants will still work at hospitals.

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