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Certified First Assistant Degree and Certificate Programs

First assistant certificate programs are geared towards those with education in surgical technology or a related field. Students will learn how provide support to surgeons during procedures.

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Essential Information

A certified first assistant (CFA) provides support to surgeons while preparing patients for surgery, as well as during surgeries and post-operation. Those interested in becoming CFAs must have graduated from a surgical assistant program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), be current Certified Surgical Technologists (CSTs) or have certification in a related profession. Applicants must also have work experience in healthcare, prior classes in anatomy and physiology, liability insurance and CPR certification as well as provide an immunization record.

Accredited degree programs in surgical assisting are very rare. Certificate programs are offered through various community colleges and vocational schools, and take about a year to complete. Certification also requires the passing of a national examination.


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Surgical First Assistant Certificate

Students in these programs learn how to identify and use medical and surgical instruments, deal with human tissues, regulate blood flow, and stitch and close body planes post-operation. Other studies may include:

  • Structure of the body
  • Medical functions and responsibilities
  • Patient care administration
  • Medical ethics
  • Symptoms health conditions

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 15% employment growth for surgical technologists between 2014 and 2024. In a May 2015 report, the BLS indicated that the median salary for these professionals, including CFAs, was $44,330.

Professional Certification Information

Graduates of an accredited first assistant program may apply to become certified through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. This organization issues the credentials of CFA. Eligibility to become certified includes passing a computer-based exam which consists of 200 multi-choice questions; applicants have four hours to complete the test. Applicants must also possess and submit verification for two years of experience as a first assistant and experience witnessing a minimum of 350 cases.

In first assistant certificate programs, students will learn about relevant topics such as medical equipment operation, human science, patient care, and health symptoms.

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