Frequently Asked Questions

About Medical Surgical Assistants
The role of the Medical Surgical Assistant

A “medical surgical assistant” is a qualified doctor who assists the surgeon during an operation.

What does a Medical Surgical Assistant do?

A medical surgical assistant works with the surgeon as a skilled second pair of hands to maximise safety and efficiency.

Medical surgical assistants work across a variety of surgical disciplines. Some choose to specialise in certain types of operations.

Who is in charge of the operation?

Your surgeon is in charge of the operation and all members of the surgical team work according to his or her instructions and protocols.

What people make up the surgical team?

While it depends on the type of surgery you are having, the team usually consists of your surgeon and an anaesthetist, a medical surgical assistant, an instrument nurse, a circulating nurse, an anaesthetic nurse and one or more theatre technicians.

Who will my medical surgical assistant be?

This will be a doctor selected by your surgeon. It may be:

  1. full-time surgical assistant
  2. another surgeon
  3. a surgeon in training
  4. a sports medicine physician
  5. a general medical practitioner (GP)
Is there a fee for the Medical Surgical Assistant?

You will be charged a separate fee for the services of a medical surgical assistant.

How much will I have to pay?

Your surgeon’s staff can give you an estimate in advance of the medical surgical assistant’s fee or provide you with the contact details of your medical surgical assistant.

Is this fee rebateable?

Medicare and private health funds usually pay a rebate towards this fee, but not always. Even where rebates apply, there may be an “out-of-pocket” component for you to pay.

Does MSASA manage the CPD program

For about 10 years, MSASA has run a CPD program for its members, but recent changes by AHPRA have created uncertainty as to how suitable the current program is. We are currently liaising with AHPRA to seek clarification.

How much involvement is required?

As a member of MSASA, there is limited involvement required. However the organisation only achieves progress due to the voluntary efforts of the executive, and the paid input of Mr Stephen Milgate, our National Coordinator. So if you had any interest in contributing, that would be greatly appreciated.

I'm an allied health professional can I work as Medical Surgical Assistant?

In order to practice as a surgical assistant in an Australian private hospital you will require hospital accreditation. This is usually only granted to qualified medical practitioners, who are currently registered with AHPRA

I’ve been told a nurse will be assisting with my surgery, is this the same?

Only hospital accredited practitioners are allowed to assist at surgery in Australian private hospitals.
It is not uncommon for theatre scrub nurses to help surgeons with minor procedures that ordinarily would not require the presence of a separate assistant. In such cases the nurse is employed by the hospital, and there will be no fee to the patient.

A small number of nurses have obtained accreditation to assist at surgery while not employed by the hospital, but this is often with a limited scope of practice. You must be aware that any fees raised by a nurse assistant will not be rebateable by either Medicare or your health fund, and you will be “out of pocket” for these fees.

In contrast, most fees raised by a medical surgical assistant are rebateable by both Medicare and your fund.


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