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All About Surgical Assistants

Surgical Assistant Definition Assist surgeons during surgery by performing duties such as tissue retraction, insertion of tubes and intravenous lines, or closure of surgical wounds. Perform preoperative and postoperative duties to facilitate patient care.

A Day in the Life of a Surgical Assistant

  • Clamp, ligate, or cauterize blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry, using hemostatic clamps, suture ligatures, or electrocautery equipment.
  • Obtain or inspect sterile or non-sterile surgical equipment, instruments, or supplies.
  • Assist in applying casts, splints, braces, or similar devices.
  • Assist in volume replacement or autotransfusion techniques.
  • Insert or remove urinary bladder catheters.
  • Assist with patient resuscitation during cardiac arrest or other life-threatening events.

Things a Surgical Assistant Should Know How to Do

Surgical Assistants state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Types of Surgical Assistant

  • Surgical Assistant
  • First Assistant
  • Clinical Assistant
  • Surgical Assistant-Certified (SA-C)
  • Certified First Assistant (CFA)

Job Opportunities for Surgical Assistants

In the United States, there were 127,800 jobs for Surgical Assistant in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 19.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 25,100 new jobs for Surgical Assistant by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 11,000 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Surgical Assistants in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Surgical Assistant are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Illinois, Rhode Island, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Surgical Assistant

Surgical Assistants make between $28,130 and $72,720 a year.

Salary Ranges for Surgical Assistants

Surgical Assistants who work in New Mexico, Alaska, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

How much do Surgical Assistants make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $46,230
Alaska $62,580
Arizona $48,840
Arkansas $42,300
California $50,150
Colorado $46,270
Connecticut $55,450
Delaware $48,900
District of Columbia $54,210
Florida $42,730
Georgia $46,960
Hawaii $54,660
Idaho $48,750
Illinois $47,590
Indiana $49,300
Iowa $42,590
Kansas $49,180
Kentucky $51,780
Louisiana $38,370
Maine $51,500
Maryland $44,590
Massachusetts $55,950
Michigan $45,640
Minnesota $55,940
Mississippi $36,900
Missouri $46,580
Montana $42,630
Nebraska $45,370
Nevada $45,980
New Hampshire $50,390
New Jersey $53,570
New Mexico $60,690
New York $55,700
North Carolina $39,230
North Dakota $46,370
Ohio $42,780
Oklahoma $43,960
Oregon $54,520
Pennsylvania $43,070
Rhode Island $55,490
South Carolina $42,820
South Dakota $54,290
Tennessee $64,010
Texas $43,990
Utah $41,150
Vermont $50,140
Virginia $48,050
Washington $59,950
West Virginia $43,490
Wisconsin $44,080
Wyoming $51,120

Tools & Technologies Used by Surgical Assistants

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Surgical Assistants:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Word processing software
  • MEDITECH software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • Palm OS
  • Patient tracking software
  • Nursing documentation software
  • Patient scheduling software
  • Supply documentation software
  • Surgery workflow communication software

Becoming a Surgical Assistant

What kind of Surgical Assistant requirements are there?

Surgical Assistant Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Surgical Assistant Work Experience

Surgical Assistants Sector

Surgical Assistant Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Surgical Assistant Industries

References:

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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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