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Surgical First Assistant

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Field description

A surgical first assistant is an integral part of the surgical team. The team works together in the operating room to ensure the patient receives quality care during a surgical procedure. A surgical first assistant works closely with the surgeon to facilitate the procedure and process of surgery.

Surgical first assistants are expected to prepare and position the patient for surgery, assist in visualization of the operating field, provide hemostasis, harvest surgical grafts, perform closure of incisions, and apply various wound dressings. In addition to these intraoperative duties, surgical first assistants also perform pre- and postoperative activities to facilitate optimal patient care.

Surgical first assistants work under the direct supervision of the surgeon, following facility protocol and policy as well as other laws and regulations.

Career opportunities

Graduates of the Surgical First Assistant Program take the first step toward becoming an integral part of the surgical team. Hospitals, outpatient surgery clinics, private practice and other surgical centers are extremely interested in hiring skilled individuals to assist in surgical procedures to promote optimal patient outcomes.

There are many areas of surgery that rely on quality assisting. Surgical first assistants learn skills for a variety of surgery specialties:

  • Cardiovascular surgery
  • General surgery
  • Genitourinary surgery
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Robotic surgery
  • Spinal surgery
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Trauma surgery
  • Vascular surgery

Advanced surgical first assistants gain respect of peers, become members of various professional organizations and create opportunities within the workforce.

Earnings potential

Based on national salary information gathered in 2012, the overall average salary for a surgical first assistant is $62,000. The average starting salary is approximately $50,000.

Professional organizations

  • Aug 4, 2014
  • ART003101