Surgical Assistants

Health Science > Diagnostic Services

Projected Growth: Much faster than average

Projected Job Openings

Medium Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to 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.

Common job titles of Surgical Assistants include:

Experience and Education

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.

  • 24.96% said they needed a Associate's Degree.

  • 16.12% said they needed a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.


    Maintain an unobstructed operative field, using surgical retractors, sponges, or suctioning and irrigating equipment.

    Adjust and maintain operating room temperature, humidity, or lighting, according to surgeon's specifications.

    Coordinate with anesthesia personnel to maintain patient temperature.

    Remove patient hair or disinfect incision sites to prepare patient for surgery.

    Monitor and maintain aseptic technique throughout procedures.

    Verify the identity of patient or operative site.

    Cover patients with surgical drapes to create and maintain a sterile operative field.

    Obtain or inspect sterile or non-sterile surgical equipment, instruments, or supplies.

    Pass instruments or supplies to surgeon during procedure.

    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.

    Clamp, ligate, or cauterize blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry, using hemostatic clamps, suture ligatures, or electrocautery equipment.

    Determine availability of necessary equipment or supplies for operative procedures.

    Gather, arrange, or assemble instruments or supplies.

    Apply sutures, staples, clips, or other materials to close skin, facia, or subcutaneous wound layers.

    Assess skin integrity or other body conditions upon completion of the procedure to determine if damage has occurred from body positioning.

    Operate sterilizing devices.

    Assist members of surgical team with gowning or gloving.

    Prepare and apply sterile wound dressings.

    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.

    Monitor patient intra-operative status, including patient position, vital signs, or volume and color of blood.

    Insert or remove urinary bladder catheters.

    Assist in applying casts, splints, braces, or similar devices.

    Postoperatively inject a subcutaneous local anesthetic agent to reduce pain.

    Assist in the insertion, positioning, or suturing of closed-wound drainage systems.

    Transport patients to operating room.

    Assist in volume replacement or autotransfusion techniques.

    Assist with patient resuscitation during cardiac arrest or other life-threatening events.

    Incise tissue layers in lower extremities to harvest veins.


Wound drains

Vascular clamps

Urinary catheters


Suture kits

Surgical trocars

Surgical scalpels

All Tools

Surgical robots

Surgical retractors

Surgical razors

Surgical protective goggles

Surgical masks

Surgical gloves

Surgical fracture tables

Surgical dermatomes

Surgical clamps

Suction machines

Subcutaneous injection syringes

Sterile gowns

Sterile drapes

Specimen collection containers

Pressure steam autoclaves

Powered surgical drills

Pneumatic tourniquets

Personal computers

Patient transport stretchers

Patient positioning devices


Nerve stimulators

Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet Nd:YAG lasers

Multi-line telephone systems

Medical staple kits

Medical image processing printers

Mayo stands

Laptop computers


Intravenous IV sets

Hypothermia units

Hospital intercom equipment

Hemostat clamps

Heart pacemakers

Head stabilizers

Fluid warmers

Flash sterilizers

Fiberoptic endoscopes

Eye magnets

Eye lasers

Ethylene Oxide sterilizers

Endoscopic camera/video systems

Desktop computers

Cell savers

Cauterizing equipment

Cast cutting saws

Cardiac monitoring equipment

Carbon dioxide CO2 lasers

C-arm tables

Body stabilizers

Blood warming equipment

Blanket warmer cabinets

Automated external defibrillators AED

Argon beam coagulators


Anesthesia carts


MEDITECH software

Microsoft Excel

Electronic medical record EMR software

Nursing documentation software

Palm OS

Patient scheduling software

Patient tracking software

All Technologies

Supply documentation software

Surgery workflow communication software

Word processing software


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.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking

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


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.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Operation Monitoring

Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Learning Strategies

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Fine Manipulative Abilities › Psychomotor Abilities › Arm-Hand Steadiness

Precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.

Fine Manipulative Abilities › Psychomotor Abilities › Finger Dexterity

See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Sensory Abilities › Visual Abilities › Near Vision

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