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Meet Your Surgical Team in the Operating Room

Who's Who in the Operating Room

When you’re preparing to undergo surgery, you’ll undoubtedly have a lot of questions. One of those questions may be, “Who’s going to be in the room during my surgery?” While this may vary depending on the type of procedure you’ll be undergoing, here’s a general list of who’s who in the operating room.

Six People You’ll Find in an Operating Room

1. Surgeons

There are currently about 18,000 active surgeons in the United States. The surgeon acts as your primary doctor and performs your procedure. It is the surgeon’s responsibility to ensure the operation is performed properly and that everything goes smoothly; they will also work to minimize the risk of any complications. Considered the leader in the operating room, the surgeon provides direction to all nurses and assistants during each step of the procedure, while working closely with the anesthesiologist to manage your care and monitor your condition. While most surgical teams consist of just one surgeon and one resident surgeon (a physician who has finished medical school and is receiving training in a specialized area), some procedures may necessitate a team of surgeons.

2. Anesthesiologists

Involved in approximately 90% of the more than 40 million surgical procedures that are carried out under anesthetic each year in the United States, the anesthesiologist is responsible for managing your level of consciousness during the procedure. Prior to surgery, you will be given anti-anxiety medication to relax you, and then the anesthesiologist will apply general anesthesia (“putting you to sleep,” so to speak), induce sedation (using IV drugs to make you unaware of the procedure), or apply a local anesthetic (numbing or removing sensation in a specific part of the body). The anesthesiologist is also responsible for monitoring and controlling your heart rate and rhythm, breathing, blood pressure, body temperature, and fluid balance during surgery.

Scrub Technician

Depending on your procedure, there is likely to be two to four surgical technicians (or “scrubs”) in the operating room. On television, these techs will be one of the people in scrubs and gloves handing the surgeon a scalpel or other instrument upon request, but they do much more than this. Scrubs help prepare you for surgery by cleaning and shaving the area to be operating on, transferring you to the operating table, sterilizing the instruments, keeping the operating room clean and sterile, dressing wounds, and more (some of these duties may be handed off to a Circulating Technician; see below).

Circulating Technician

This technician is not required to be scrubbed in, and performs the job duties that cannot be done by scrubbed in members of the team who must remain sterile throughout your procedure. The circulating technician is able to move about the operating room freely, often charting what is happening during the procedure while keeping track of every piece of gauze and equipment used to ensure nothing is left within your surgical site.


Registered nurses (RNs) may perform a variety of duties in the operating room depending on the size of the team. Sometimes, an RN will perform the duties of scrubs or circulating technicians; other times, they will act as the first assistant to the surgeon. As an RN first assistant—a very specialized area of nursing—the RN acts as the surgeon’s “right-hand man or woman,” helping to control bleeding, perform wound closure, or intervene during complications or emergencies. The RN first assistant may also help with your care following surgery, providing post-operative instructions and answering questions while monitoring your recovery.


Future surgeons, anesthesiologists, scrubs, and nurses have to learn somewhere, and there’s no better place than in the operating room. In teaching hospitals, students may be present during your procedure to observe and occasionally help the surgeon or nursing staff with basic tasks.


Now that you know who to expect in an operating room, you might be curious about your wound closure options, so be sure to ask your surgeon about BandGrip. Resembling a typical adhesive bandage, BandGrip’s patented micro-anchors grip the skin tightly and hold wound edges together securely, which offers many advantages:

  • Faster and easier application versus sutures and staples
  • Eliminates the risk of needlestick injuries
  • Results in less scarring than sutures or staples
  • Supports better mobility due to its smooth, water-resistant surface
  • Does not require a return visit for removal

Learn more about the power of BandGrip here.

Advanced Wound Closure