Certified First Assistant Schools and Training Programs
First assistants, also called surgical assistants, assist surgeons during each step of an operation. Read below to learn more about the qualifications for becoming a first assistant, including how you can attain certification.
What You Need to Know
A first assistant aids a surgeon during each step of the operating process. Certified training programs for this career exist in a variety of options, including, but not limited to, U.S. military training, professional experience or education in allied health professions such as nursing or physician assisting. Before you can enroll in any of these programs you generally need some experience and specific healthcare certifications.
|Online||Programs are available partially online|
|Certification||Offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting as well as the National Surgical Assistant Association|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$104,860|
Source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is a First Assistant?
Your duties in this job include retracting tissue and controlling bleeding during surgery, positioning a patient prior to surgery and maintaining knowledge both of anatomy and surgical instruments. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that in 2016 there were 106,200 physician assistants, and the BLS expected this number to grow 37% by 2026. Physician assistants were estimated to have earned a median annual salary $104,860 in 2017 (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Become Certified?
If you graduate from a surgical assisting program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), then you can earn the Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) certification from the NBSTSA (www.nbstsa.org). Other available credentials include the Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA) from National Surgical Assistants Association (NSAA) and the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) designation from the NBSTSA.
Where Do I Get the Right Education?
CAAHEP-accredited surgical assistant training programs are mostly the same ones that are approved by the NSAA. These options generally take about one year to complete and result in a surgical assisting certificate. Some are as short as six months, while others are almost two years long. They often consist of courses that you can take online, except for instances in which you need to do hands-on laboratory work. To enroll, you generally need documented experience in an allied program, such as a Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) program, a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) program, a medical school program or a military training program. You also need to be certified in basic life support or CPR and possess immunization records.
What Schools Offer These Programs?
You might be able to find first assistant training programs through community colleges. Medical schools may offer these programs as well. Consider some of the following schools listed below:
- Eastern Virginia Medical School (Norfolk)
- Wayne County Community College (Detroit, MI)
- Meridian Institute of Surgical Assisting (Nashville, TN)
- Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science (MN)
- Delta College (University Center, MI)