Ten Secrets Towards Having a Great Surgical Assistant

I have always said that we are only as good as the people with whom surround ourselves. This is certainly the case in the operating room. Here are ten tips for finding a gifted surgical assistant for laparoscopic and robotic procedures (in no particular order):

  1. Don’t use a doctor. We are all best at what we do the most. Surgeons operate, and assistants assist. Keep in mind that assistants help surgeons all day long every day of the week. As a result, they bring a vast and diverse experience to the table. My surgical assistants can assist me better than if I had another one of me in the room.
  2. Treat them right and respect their professionalism. It will pay you back in spades.
  3. Always be very conscious of the ergonomics of everyone in the room. Fatigue can have an effect on both performance and attitude.
  4. Involve them in decision-making, respect their opinion, and keep them engaged in the care of your patients. I always welcome any help I can get. When you don’t take their advice, complement them on the suggestion and explain your reasoning.
  5. Solicit advice from doctors and nurses to find the right assistant in the first place.
  6. Give them feedback ­– good and bad.
  7. Strive for independence by modifying your technique such that it is adaptable to a variety of assisting styles.
  8. Set a great example by not compromising even the smallest detail of patient care.
  9. Teach them the procedure. I have often said that many of my assistants, if put on a deserted island, could perform the surgery themselves. Although an exaggeration, that is always my goal.
  10. Thank everyone in the operating by name at the end of each procedure.