Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) Programs: Training and Schools

A registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) is an RN with advanced training in the skills needed to assist in surgery. Discover where to find an RNFA program, see what you'll learn, and get information on professional certification. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

An RNFA training program will teach you the advanced medical knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the role of first assistant to a surgeon in an operating room. These programs require additional hours of clinical practicum experience beyond that of a registered nursing program.

Program Options RNFA Course, Advanced Technical Certificate RNFA Program, RNFA Post-Baccalaureate Program
Training At least 2,000 hours of RNFA work experience required for certification
Schools Some options include Gulf Coast State College, Luzerne County Community College, University of Rochester Medical Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham

What Does an RNFA Training Program Prepare Me For?

RNFA programs build upon the functions of the perioperative nurse, focusing on advanced surgical anatomy, procedures and techniques. RNFA programs will prepare you to perform intraoperative surgical procedures, such as handling, cutting and removing tissue, using retractors and other surgical instruments, suturing and tying knots, and controlling bleeding. The curriculum for RNFA programs explores pre - and postoperative patient care management, which can help you become proficient in postoperative care and discharge planning. The coursework will teach you to assess the needs of your patients and surgical team.

Where Can I Find an RNFA Program?

RNFA programs are offered through accredited nursing programs in community colleges and 4-year institutions. Many of these programs are offered in an online format and require that you visit the campus only for laboratory skills training. Along with your online coursework, most schools also require that you complete a clinical internship in order to develop your surgical skills. The program you choose should be approved by the Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN).

How Do I Qualify for an RNFA Program?

RNFA programs are designed for RNs with varying degrees of education, from nurses who hold diplomas to nurses who hold bachelor's degrees ( Most schools require that you possess or are working toward the Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) designation, offered by the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI). Unless you're an advanced practice nurse, you'll generally need to obtain CNOR certification prior to the completion of your program. Most schools also require that you have at least two years of experience working as a perioperative nurse.

How Do I Get Certified?

To become a certified RNFA (CRNFA), you'll need CNOR certification, an RN license and a bachelor's degree ( You'll also need 2,000 hours of experience working as a RNFA. The experience requirement can be fulfilled through an internship or clinical practicum.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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