How do I Become a Surgical Assistant?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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If your career goal is to become a surgical assistant, you will need specialized training to get the necessary certification to work in this demanding field. This is not a job for someone who doesn't work well under pressure. The demands of the job of a surgical assistant require someone who can stay calm in stressful situations, since anything can happen during a surgical procedure. Having a strong stomach is also a requirement for working in an operating room.

The surgical assistant is responsible for getting the operating room ready before the procedure and ensuring that all the instruments are sterile and at hand. During the surgical procedure, the surgical assistant passes instruments to the surgeon. This type of medical career also involves placing drapes over the patient and exposing the area to be operated on. The surgical assistant also places retractors to the area as directed by the surgeon. Applying sutures to finish the surgical procedure is also part of this hospital job.


If you want to become a surgical assistant, one option is to complete an undergraduate degree before moving on to taking a specialized training course. Getting a degree in nursing or science are good choices to prepare you for this step. You can also prepare for a career as a surgical assistant by completing the requirements for an associate's degree in a medical field of study and getting at least three years of practical experience. Prospective students who have military medical training can also apply for admission to a program to become a surgical assistant.

The specialized training to work in this field is offered by private schools, colleges and universities. Program lengths vary from several months to two years, depending on the institution you choose. Students are enrolled in classes in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and bioscience. Classes focusing on complications during surgery, professional ethics, and legal considerations also form part of the curriculum. You will also be taking computer classes, and well as courses teaching interpersonal skills.

The program to become a surgical assistant will also include a portion that focuses on clinical practice. During this portion of the training, you will be involved in hands-on training for various surgical procedures, including plastic surgery, orthopedics, and obstetrics/gynecology. Once you have completed the training program, the final step in the process to become a surgical assistant is to get a passing grade on a multiple-choice certification exam.


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Post 3

It seems like this would be an excellent option for anyone who wants to be a doctor, without going through so very many years of training.

Even people who are smart enough to become doctors often don't have the discipline to study at the horrendous rate that they expect in med school.

I'm sure it is difficult, becoming a surgical technician, but probably not quite that difficult.

Also, it sounds like it is less of a take home job. If you are only working within the surgery and not interacting with the patients, then aside from keeping up with the latest techniques, there wouldn't be much "homework".

Post 2

If at all possible, you should try to get some experience of being in a room where someone is having surgery, before making the decision to follow this career.

Sometimes people who are positive they want to be involved in medical jobs like this will not actually be able to handle the process of cutting into someone.

It might seem difficult to get first hand experience but you can do it in various ways. Volunteer at an animal shelter and help with their surgeries. Volunteer at a blood donation center or so on. You might not end up in the areas where the medical procedures are happening at first, but eventually you might be able to see one or two.

And you will gain valuable experience which can be of use for your resume.

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