Surgical Assistants

surgery assisting
$57,290 Median Wage (2022)
1,300 Projected job openings (2022-2032)
5.20% Projected growth (2022-2032)

Assist 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 surgical site.

Experience Requirements Overview

  • Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

Education, Training and Experience

Required Level of Education: Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)

Related Work Experience: Over 1 year, up to and including 2 years

On-Site or In-Plant Training: Over 3 months, up to and including 6 months

On-the-Job Training: Over 3 months, up to and including 6 months

Detailed Work Activities

  • Operate on patients to treat conditions.
  • Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery.
  • Maintain sterile operative fields.
  • Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
  • Protect patients or staff members using safety equipment.
  • Position patients for treatment or examination.
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
  • Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities.
  • Administer anesthetics or sedatives to control pain.
  • Administer intravenous medications.
  • Apply bandages, dressings, or splints.
  • Treat acute illnesses, infections, or injuries.
  • Administer blood or other fluids intravenously.
  • Implement advanced life support techniques.
  • Maintain inventory of medical supplies or equipment.
  • Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
  • Administer basic health care or medical treatments.
  • Examine medical instruments or equipment to ensure proper operation.
  • Sterilize medical equipment or instruments.
  • Prepare patients physically for medical procedures.
  • Move patients to or from treatment areas.
  • Verify accuracy of patient information.

Work Values

Achievement

Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

Working Conditions

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Recognition

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Relationships

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.

Support

Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.

Independence

Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Tasks

  • 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 Styles

Achievement/Effort

Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

Persistence

Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Initiative

Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Leadership

Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

Cooperation

Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Concern for Others

Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Social Orientation

Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

Self-Control

Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

Stress Tolerance

Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

Adaptability/Flexibility

Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

Dependability

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

Attention to Detail

Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

Integrity

Job requires being honest and ethical.

Independence

Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

Innovation

Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Analytical Thinking

Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Data Source: This page includes information from the O*NET 28.0 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA. This page includes Employment Projections program, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.