Children's Health and Wellness

The Surgical Team for Children

When a child undergoes surgery, a team of medical staff assists the surgeon in the procedure. The number of team members differs depending on the type of surgery done. Most teams include the following:

  • Surgeon. A surgeon has completed 4 years of medical school, an internship, and a residency with specialized training after medical school. Most surgeons have passed exams given by a national board of surgeons for "board certification." In addition, some surgeons have the letters FACS behind their name. This means they passed review and are considered a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

  • Anesthesiologist. An anesthesiologist has completed 4 years of postmedical school training in anesthesia, in addition to the required 4 years of medical school. Anesthesiologists may further specialize in certain surgery specialties, such as pediatric anesthesia. The anesthesiologist is involved in all 3 phases of surgery: preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative management.

  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). The nurse anesthetist takes care of the child before, during, and after surgical procedures. The nurse anesthetist constantly monitors every important function of the child's body and can modify the anesthetic to make sure of maximum safety and comfort. A nurse anesthetist is a master's prepared advanced practice nurse who received specialized training in anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists enjoy a high degree of autonomy and professional respect. CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in every practice setting, and for every type of surgery or procedure. They are the sole anesthesia providers in nearly all rural hospitals. They are also the main provider of anesthesia to the men and women serving the U.S. Armed Forces. Nurse anesthetists are required to pass a national certification exam to become a CRNA and are required to maintain regular continuing medical education.

  • Anesthesiologist assistant (AA). Anesthesia assistants are licensed professionals who work under the direction of licensed anesthesiologists to implement anesthesia care plans. They have a premedical bachelor's degree, followed by comprehensive course work and clinical training at the master's degree level. Anesthesia assistants are required to pass a national certification exam, maintain regular continuing medical education, and recertify every 6 years.

  • Operating room nurse or circulating nurse. Nurses are registered and licensed by the state to care for patients. Some nurses concentrate in a specialized field, such as surgery. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses provide education and certification for the operating room nurse. The operating room nurse assists the surgeon during surgery. Operating room nurses are certified in various surgical areas. They will make your child feel comfortable and answer his or her questions if he or she goes to the operating room awake.

  • Surgical technologists (scrub techs). Surgical technologists are allied health professionals with specialized education who function as members of the surgical team in the role of scrub tech. They are an integral part of the surgical team.

Online Source: Become a CRNA, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Online Source: Types of Anesthesia Providers, American Society of Anesthesiologists
Online Source: What Surgical Technologists Do, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Online Source: Pediatric Surgery FAQ, American Pediatric Surgical Association
Online Source: What is Medical-Surgical Nursing? Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses
Online Source: Who Will Hold my Hand: A Guild for Parents Whose Child Needs an Operation, American Pediatric Surgical Association
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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