RN to Surgical First Assistant Programs

An RN-to-surgical first assistant program could prepare you for a career in the operating room. Read on to find out more about these programs and related certification credentials. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are RN-to-Surgical First Assistant Programs?

These programs are generally offered as certificate programs at community colleges or 4-year institutions. You'll be required to complete a number of clinical hours in training as a surgical first assistant as part of your program requirements. Some programs will allow you to complete the coursework portion of your requirements online. The clinical phase of the program, however, will have to be completed in a live setting, typically a hospital. Additionally, some schools require that you videotape your lab studies, including practicing skills such as suturing and retracting.

Program Format Classes available on campus or blended online format; clinical portion must be completed in person
Skills Gained Monitoring vital signs, skin preparation, surgical instruments and techniques
Course Topics Anesthesia, pharmacology, patient care, surgical terminology
Prerequisites Active nursing license, letters of reference, professional experience
Certification Title Voluntary exam grants title of Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant

What Might I Study?

Coursework is designed to prepare you to assist surgeons in the operating room. You'll learn how to prepare patients for surgery, including monitoring vital signs and preparing skin for surgery. You might learn about various surgical procedures and the appropriate instruments and techniques associated with them. Your courses also might instruct you in techniques in homeostasis, which is the process of controlling blood flow during surgical procedures. Most certificate programs can be completed in one year.

What Classes Might I Take?

Your courses will focus on your responsibilities as a first assistant and safety procedures associated with surgery. You might encounter the following topics in the lecture component:

  • Surgical anatomy and physiology
  • Anesthesia
  • Surgical terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Surgical instruments
  • Patient care

What Are the Admission Requirements?

In addition to RN licensure and professional experience, you might be required to provide documentation of current immunizations and a health screening. You also might be asked to submit letters of reference from previous employers or academic mentors. If you aren't an advanced practice nurse, you may need to hold the CNOR designation, a certification offered by the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI) that demonstrates proficiency in perioperative nursing.

Do I Need to Be Certified?

While not required by law, certification through CCI could show employers that you've taken that extra step to be an expert in your field. If you have at least a bachelor's degree and have completed an RN-to-surgical first assistant certificate program, you could qualify to take the Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA) exam. Other requirements include CNOR certification or experience as an advanced practice nurse, a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience as an RFNA and passage of the CRNFA certification exam.

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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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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