The Surgical Team for Children

When a child has surgery, a team of medical staff helps the surgeon with the procedure. The number of team members varies. It depends on the type of surgery. Members of the team may vary too. Talk with your child's surgeon about what to expect.


A surgeon has had 4 years of medical school, an internship, and a residency with extra training after medical school. Most surgeons have passed exams given by a national board of surgeons. This is known as board certification. Some surgeons also have the letters FACS after their name. This means they passed review and are a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Some surgeons have more training in specific types of surgery, such as pediatric surgery.


This type of provider has had 4 years of training in anesthesia after the 4 years of medical school. They may then pick a specialty, such as pediatric anesthesia. This provider is involved before, during, and after surgery. An anesthesiologist has been through a testing process to be board certified in their specialty. They also must keep up with ongoing training.

Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)

The nurse anesthetist is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced education. The CRNA is a master's prepared advanced practice nurse with special training in anesthesia. This nurse takes care of a child before, during, and after surgery. They watch every vital function of the child's body and can change the anesthetic to make sure of safety and comfort. CRNAs can give anesthetics to people in settings from a provider's office to a hospital. And they can do it for every type of surgery or procedure. They are the sole anesthesia providers in many rural hospitals. They are also the main providers of anesthesia to people in the U.S. Armed Forces. Nurse anesthetists have to pass a national certification exam to become a CRNA. After that, they must keep up with ongoing training.

Certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA)

These providers work with licensed anesthesiologists. Regulations vary by state, so check with your surgical team to see if a CAA will be part of your child's team. CAAs help to create anesthesia care plans. They have a premedical bachelor's degree. Then they do course work and clinical training at the master's degree level. Anesthesia assistants must pass a national certification exam. They must keep up with ongoing training. And they must recertify every 6 years.

Surgical physician assistant

These people are specially trained to provide care under the supervision of licensed healthcare providers. Their education often is like that in medical schools. Their main duty is to assist the surgeon in surgery. They may work to make sure that all the equipment and supplies are in place for the surgery. They also follow your child into recovery, talk with you after the surgery, and assist with the child's care. And they are often involved in helping to get your child discharged after surgery.

Operating room nurse or circulating nurse

Nurses are registered and licensed by each state to care for patients. Some nurses work only in a single field, such as surgery. The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses gives education and certification for nurses who work in surgery rooms. These nurses help the surgeon during surgery. Operating room nurses are certified in different types of surgery. They will make your child feel comfortable and can answer their questions before surgery starts.

Surgical technologists (scrub techs)

These techs are healthcare providers with specific education. They work as members of the surgery team in the role of scrub tech. They make sure the tools are all ready for surgery. They hand the tools to the surgeon. And they count the tools with the nurse at the end of the surgery to make sure they're all there. They're a vital part of the surgery team.

Online Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2023
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