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Keep Your Fingers On The Pulse Of Our Profession

Keep Your Fingers On The Pulse Of Our Profession

By Dan Bump SA-C, CSFA: Recently, I had an opportunity to comment on a Virginia bill for regulating Surgical Techs and Surgical Assistants in which SA-Cs were purposely banned from registration. I’d like to know what your feelings are in this matter, whether you are an SA-C yourself or hold another surgical assisting credential. There are forces at play that would like CSAs and CSFAs to be the only recognized credentials in Virginia and elsewhere. Is this in your best interests or the best interests of this profession?

One way or another, this bill has the potential of producing a direct or indirect negative impact on every surgical assistant in the country! If one state says you aren’t good enough to practice, might some other states follow suit? So far that hasn’t been the case and I hope it continues that way. Here are my comments for your review:

“Why exclude ABSA, a widely recognized and respected certifying agency?

Dear Sirs:

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the VA registration law. It appears that those surgical assistants holding the SA-C credential as awarded by the American Board of Surgical Assistants (ABSA) have been barred from surgical assistant registration in Virginia. As the president of ACE Surgical Assisting and an active participant in the surgical assistant community since 1989, I'm puzzled as to the rationale of this exclusion.

There are over 80 SA-Cs in Virginia. It is my understanding that they'll be grandfathered in. They'll also be stigmatized due to the fact they have a credential they've worked hard to earn and now Virginia is telling them their credential is worthless. ABSA is recognized in most other states. You are telling the SA-Cs in Virginia if they want recognition, they have to move to another state. You are also telling SA-Cs in other states that if they move to Virginia, they won't be able to find a job. What a cold welcome!

It is in nobody's best interest to make one group of healthcare professionals outcasts in the state of Virginia. It doesn't serve the surgical assisting community, the surgeons and hospitals these professionals work for, those who might have otherwise moved to Virginia, and the surgical patients who ultimately benefit from the services of well-trained and credentialed Surgical Assistants.

Finally, the exclusion of ABSA and SA-Cs thwarts the goals of the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority. This organization lists the ABSA as a professional resource for Virginia surgical assistants or those looking to become surgical assistants (see )

Thank you again for allow us to comment. I know this profession very well and my highest recommendation is to put an end to this ban and let those with the SA-C credential be recognized and included in the Virginia registration of Surgical Assistants.”

What do you think about these comments? Would you have taken a different approach? Is there an even more persuasive argument that I missed completely? Hopefully, my comments along with those of others were persuasive enough to change hearts and minds. The surprise comment of them all came out of nowhere from a completely unexpected source as you’ll soon see.

The Association of Surgical Assistants (ASA) is a great organization that boasts its loyal members to be a mix of CSAs, CSFAs, and SA-Cs (see Here they comment, “The CSFA, CSA, and SA-C play a vital role in health care and by joining ASA, these practitioners will play a vital role in securing the future of the surgical assisting profession.”

Their mission further comments on the need to bring surgical assistants with these 3 credentials together to ‘promote the recognition of all surgical assistants.’ (emphasis mine)

“ASA Mission Statement
The Association of Surgical Assistants represents a broad coalition of surgical assistant practitioners, who share several common goals, including optimizing surgical patient care, promoting the recognition of all surgical assistants, advancing legislative strategies and providing relevant continuing education experiences.”

ASA is an amazing association and I look forward to witnessing the progress this profession will make under their leadership. Their mission is a noble expression of exactly what we need. I think we should all get behind it and give ASA our full support in any way we can.

Here is what’s so surprising and perplexing. Let’s see if you’ll have a similar reaction. Even as I write this, I literally don’t know what to think. The president of ASA made a comment on the bill that seems to contradict ASA’s mission (see Here he makes no attempt at a convincing argument in behalf of his SA-C membership. Instead, he makes a full-throated endorsement of the legislation as written without including SA-Cs. Am I missing something? His mission is to represent a broad coalition of surgical assistants. That is all encompassing. It doesn’t leave a significant segment of his constituent membership without his support and representation.

What do you think your reaction should be? What actions do you intend to take if any? I’d very much like to hear from you in the comment section below. Do you believe the ASA president acted on his own volition or as instructed by the ASA board? For me personally, it’s hard to picture the board issuing instructions that contradict their own mission statement. But please feel free to let me know if I am naïve.

I’m going to make it a goal to keep my readers as informed as possible about any legislation I come across that might adversely affect their careers and then create conversations to integrate all viewpoints. That way we can all get a world view on the subject. In this, I ask all of you to be my eyes and ears in your state regarding any new surgical assistant legislation. Keep your fingers on the pulse of our profession. If legislation would limit you or ban you from assisting in your state, I’d be honored to give you a voice though this blog. Lots of voices can make a big difference.

Stay tuned for future posts on professional issues and add your voice by making a comment on as many of my weekly posts as possible. I’d love to see you as a regular commenter. Together let’s make this blog the most lively and pertinent conversation in the country for a truly diverse and broad coalition of surgical assistants.

Are you interested in becoming a surgical assistant? Contact ACE Surgical Assisting today to request more information and to learn more about advancing your career.