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Surgical First Assistant Programs of Study

Associate in Applied Science in Surgical First Assisting:

As defined by the American College of Surgeons, the surgical first assistant provides aid in exposure, hemostasis, and other technical functions that will help the surgeon carry out a safe operation with optimal results for the patient. This role will vary considerably with the surgical operation, specialty area, and type of facility. Clinical skills performed under direct supervision of the surgeon may include the following:

  • Positioning the patient
  • Preparing the skin
  • Providing visualization of the operative site
  • Utilizing appropriate techniques to assist with hemostasis
  • Participating in volume replacement or auto transfusion techniques as appropriate
  • Utilizing appropriate techniques in closure of body planes
  • Selecting and applying appropriate wound dressings
  • Providing assistance in securing drainage system to tissue

Available Credentials

Associate in Applied Science


For a printable copy of program course requirements, click an option above or consult the Madisonville Advising Plan.  

Employment Opportunities

Surgical assistants are primarily employed by hospitals or by physicians, who often hire the first assistant as their personal assistant in surgery. Starting salaries often range between $16 and $26 per hour.

Admission Requirements

The Surgical First Assistant program is a selective admission program. For eligibility requirements and to request a Surgical First Assistant program information packet or for additional information or questions regarding the program please contact Jeff Bidwell by e-mail.

Jeff Bidwell
SFA Program Coordinator

Technical Standards

Surgical First Assistant applicants should possess sufficient performance skills in the areas of:

  • sensory functions including visual acuity, such as observation skills necessary for administering client care and reading equipment gauges and settings used in treatments;
  • sensory functions including auditory perception to receive verbal communication and to execute client care through the use of monitoring devices;
  • strength and gross and fine motor coordination and motor praxis skills to respond promptly and to implement client care skills, such as the manipulation of equipment, and positioning and lifting clients;
  • communication and social skills (speech, reading, writing) to interact with the individuals and to communicate their needs promptly and effectively, as may be necessary in the client’s interest, and
  • Intellectual, cognitive, and emotional function to implement the plan of care.
Applicants accepted into the program MUST also:
  • Provide proof of immunizations
  • Results from negative drug screening
  • Results from negative TB screen
  • Maintain current CPR certification throughout program

Qualifications for entering program:

NOTE:  For program admission, candidates must be a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) or Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) or must be able to demonstrate the entry level skills possessed by someone who has completed an entry level surgical technology program.  These basic skills are listed in the Association of Surgical Technologists Surgical Technology Core Curriculum.  Candidates must also have a minimum of one year operating room experience.

Applicants to the program are selected based on a ranking system. The ranking system issues points based on: Certification, Operating Room Experience, Residency, Military Experience, Previous Applicant

In addition to MCC’s general admission requirements, candidates to the program must complete the following:

Requirements for acceptance into the program for qualified candidates


Requirements for program after your initial acceptance into the program:

Selected candidates must send in the following required documents. Selected candidates will receive email notification in the spring (mid-March). PLEASE DO NOT SEND DOCUMENTS UNTIL YOU HAVE RECEIVED NOTIFICATION REQUESTING THE DOCUMENTS.

  • Copy of Driver's License
  • Copy of Employee Badge
  • Copy of CPR/BLS Card
  • Copy of Certification or documented Operating Room Training
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume
  • Letters of Recommendation (minimum of 2) one must be from precepting surgeon, others may be from surgeons, surgical assistants, or supervisors/managers. Letters must be dated same year as applying.


  • Selected candidates must complete the following program requirements before the start of the fall semester. FORMS AND INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE EMAILED TO SELECTED CANDIDATES AT A LATER DATE.
  • Complete FAFSA (if applying for financial aid, students loans, or scholarships)
  • Complete the online Application for Admission to Madisonville Community College
  • Setup student email account (you will receive a letter from the college with your student ID number after you have completed the online application to the college. Note: You will not have access to your student email until you have been enrolled in a class.
  • Send Official High School transcripts AND Official College transcripts to:
    • Admissions
    • Madisonville Community College
    • 2000 College Drive
    • Madisonville, KY 42431
  • If transferring credit, complete online Transcript Evaluation Request Form
  • Complete Fall Priority Registration Form
  • Provide proof of immunizations as required by precepting facility(s). This is often your employee health records
  • Provide results from negative drug screening (must be less than 1 year old or as required by precepting facility)
  • Complete back ground check through CastleBranch.com (formerly certifiedbackground.com) Please DO NOT complete until you have received further instructions from SFA program coordinator or SFA program office manager.
  • Send in signed Handbook signature page
  • Send in required pre-clinical forms – clinical confirmation form; clinical facility data form; clinical preceptor agreement form(s)). 
  • Have in place a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or student affiliation agreement between the precepting facility and Madisonville Community College. Students should contact Melinda or Jeff to see if a current agreement is in place or to begin the process of getting an agreement in place.
  • Tuition Payment: Making timely payment arrangements is imperative to avoid being dropped from the program. Tuition balance and due dates can be found on your student self service account. Payment may also be made through your student self service account. If applying for financial aid, please check your TO DO LIST in your student self service account to be sure all necessary requirements have been met.  

Additional requirements for online Assistant students

Online assisted students must meet the required program admission eligibility requirements and have an approved preceptor at their facility that will agree to perform the following duties:

  • Clinical preceptors are responsible for understanding the content and the scope of the students' clinical preparation prior to the clinical practicum. This includes suturing check-offs, positioning check-offs and surgical skills check-offs before the student begins the clinical portion of the program.
  • Preceptors shall be responsible for providing clinical Surgical Assistant experience opportunities, evaluating student performance in an on-going manner, informing the program director/coordinator about student performance that is less than satisfactory and attesting to the level of student achievement during each rotation.
  • Students in the distance program have a couple of options for performing pre-clinical evaluations:
  • Students may perform the pre-clinical and program evaluations at the Madisonville Community college by attending a weekend lab or week lab depending on the need of the individual student. 
  • Experienced surgical students may work with their preceptors and video tape the evaluations in order to save the expense of traveling to Madisonville. Example: After receiving approval from the facility the student could elect to perform the positioning evaluation by using an empty OR room and a few volunteer co-workers. The student would perform the positioning skills using a co-worker and clearly explain the position and safety features during the video. The suturing evaluation could be performed using foam kits or with pigs feet. The student would demonstrate the skill and describe each stitch during the video.

Length of Program

You can complete the Surgical First Assistant program in one academic year, after completing the program requirements you are required to take the national certification exam (currently CSFA) in order to graduate. The program is flexible and set up for people who work full-time. Several methods/tracks are offered to complete the program. The Surgical First Assistant program is offered online assisted.

Program Coordinator

Jeff Bidwell, CST, CSFA, CSA, KCSA, MA, FAST
(270) 824-1740(270) 824-1740

This information should not be considered a substitute for the KCTCS Catalog. You should always choose classes in cooperation with your faculty advisor to ensure that you meet all degree requirements.

Out of state graduates of CAAHEP approved Surgical Technology programs may transfer many of their Surgical Technology courses toward the associate if the surgical technology school you attended was accredited by a regional or nationally accreditation body approved by Madisonville Community college. The amount of transferable Surgical Technology credits is based on the current Surgical Technology courses offered by Madisonville Community College. The general education courses will be reviewed individually.

The residency requirement for the AAS degree in Surgical Assisting is 24 hours; 15 of the 24 hours of the requirement will be met by taking the Surgical Assisting courses. The remainder of any general education requirements not met, or hours needed for the residency requirement, can be completed at the college through Kentucky Virtual University “KYVU”