Working in the operating room during a surgery can be a valuable and exciting way to be part of patients’ care and treatment. Fortunately, you do not have to go to medical school to be part of a medical surgical team. One path to working in this field is either as a surgical assistant or surgical technician also called a surgical technologist.
Though some use these titles interchangeably, each has different requirements for certification and functions in the operating room. For example, some surgical technicians begin their training on the job with no formal educational background where a surgical technologist earns a degree before working.
This page will go over the different educational requirements as well as the varying job duties between surgical assistants vs surgical technicians.
Surgical First Assistants are sometimes called the “First Assist” or “First Assistants” but most commonly referred to as Surgical Assistants.
Surgical Assistants work with other medical professionals on a surgical team in the operating room, including working directly with the patient during the procedure. During surgical procedures, some of the duties of a surgical assistant include:
While some surgical assistants begin as surgical technologists before earning their certificates, others begin with the surgical assisting certification program without prior background in the field. The two types of certification for surgical assistants are CFA (Certified First Assistant) or CSA (Certified Surgical Assistant).
The CSA is offered by The National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants (NCCSA).
The CFA is offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).
You must complete an accredited surgical assisting program to be eligible to take either of the certifying exams
Surgical technicians, or technologists, are also part of the medical team related to surgical procedures. However, their role is not the same during operations. Some of the duties of a surgical technologist include:
Surgical technologists must go through an education program from an accredited institution, which allows them to sit for the certification exam. The two types of certification available for surgical technologists are the CST (Certified Surgical Technologist) or TS-C (Tech in Surgery-Certified). Once certified, many surgical technologists continue their education in order to seek certification as a surgical assistant.
When you are interested in working on a medical surgical team, there are many paths to this career. Surgical assistants and surgical technologists are two separate positions with unique functions in the operating room. Understanding the difference between these two positions can help you determine the best career path for you.
|Quick Facts: Surgical Technologists|
|2018 Median Pay||$47,300 per year|
$22.74 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Postsecondary nondegree award|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2018||112,100|
|Job Outlook, 2018-28||9% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2018-28||9,700|
If the surgery room excites you and you want to make a big impact on a surgical team then click the blue find schools button to compare surgical tech programs.