A surgical first assist, also referred to as a surgical first assistant, or surgical assistant, works closely with surgeons in the operating room during a surgical procedure. They anticipate the needs of the surgical team and during an operation, assist the surgeon with tasks such as selecting equipment, holding open incisions, stopping bleeding, and closing the incision, among other technical tasks.

Surgical first assistant vs. surgical technologist

While similar, the duties of a surgical technologist and surgical first assistant vary. A surgical tech is responsible for surgical equipment management and preparing the operating room. The surgical first assistant is more focused on assisting the surgeon during surgery. Depending on the facility, specific duties may be interchangeable between surgical first assistants and surgical technologists.

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Positioning the patient for surgery and aiding with draping

  • Clearing the area where the surgeon will operate and holding open incisions by using tissue retractors, sponges, or operating suction or irrigation equipment

  • Selecting and passing instruments and supplies during an operation

  • Stopping bleeding by sponging, clamping, tying, or cauterizing vessels, or suturing tissue layers as directed by the surgeon

  • Applying dressings to surgical wounds

  • Counting sponges, needles, and other materials before and after the operation

  • Closing the incision at the end of the procedure

The role of a surgical first assistant could vary depending on the surgical procedure, specialty area, and type of facility.

Minimum requirements:

  • 8+ months of recent work experience as a Certified Surgical First Assist

  • National certification required (CSFA, SA-C or CSA)

  • Licensed or Registered (if required per state)

  • Current BLS

  • Current TB Screen

  • Valid Photo Identification/Driver's License

  • Successful completion of a Background Check and Medely's screening process

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