Surgical First Assistant Program (Online) | MCC

Surgical First Assistant Program (Online)

Surgical First Assistant

Support doctors and other medical professionals as an operating room technician. You’ll learn to prepare for and assist during surgeries as part of a healthcare team.

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What is Surgical First Assistant Program (Online)?

The Madisonville Community College Surgical First Assistant Program: 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 to assist with closure of body planes, selecting and applying appropriate wound dressings and providing assistance in securing drainage system to tissue.

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

The college offers weekend Suture workshops during the fall semester for students. Experienced Surgical Technologists may elect to video the Suturing and Positioning/Surgical Tasks evaluations in order to avoid the costs of traveling to the Madisonville campus.

What are my career choices?

Employment is available in hospital operating rooms, delivery rooms, physician's offices as a surgeon's assistant, or in free standing centers (outpatient or ambulatory surgery). The average wage throughout the United States ranges from $32,000 to $48,600.

What are my degree, diploma, or certificate options?

Clinical Requirements:

Note: Students may begin clinical in SUR 295 following: completion of Surgical Skills evaluation, purchasing liability insurance through the school, completing the MOA agreement, and approval of the program director and clinical facility. Students will continue performing clinical in SUR 294 and 297).  A student’s case log is calculated from combined procedures performed in SUR 295, SUR 294, and 297.

The student must complete 140 documented surgical procedures in the role of the surgical assistant. A minimum of 20 cases must be performed in General Surgery with the remaining cases assigned as appropriate to the student and level of experience.  Those students with extensive experience in a specific surgical area may document the remaining cases as approved by the program. Cases counted must be those that require a surgical assistant and are approved by the program.

Surgical Specialty

  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Peripheral Vascular
  3. Thoracic
  4. Orthopedic 
  5. Neurosurgery
  6. Ob-Gyn
  7. Urology
  8. Plastic
  9. General
  10. MIS
  11. Ophthalmology
  12. Otorhinolaryngology
  13. Oral/Maxillofacial
  14. Pediatrics
  15. Oncology
  16. Podiatry
  17. Robotic Surgical Procedures
  18. Living Tissue Transplant


To count a case in the first assistant role, the student must satisfactorily perform 8 out of 12 of the following responsibilities: 


1. Reviews Surgical Records including patient information history, preoperative tests (EKG, EEG, EMG, lab values, diagnostic imaging), safety measures, biopsy results 

2. Confirm placement and functionality of equipment and supplies with the surgical team

3. Communicate the surgeon’s preferences to the surgical team, i.e., suture needs, specialty supplies, positioning of the patient, etc.

4. Monitor and aid in the catheterization, skin prep, and/or positioning of the patient according to the surgeon’s preference.


5. Confirm X-rays, MRIs, CTs, results of diagnostic tests, patient charts, etc., are in the operating room and available for review.

6. Monitor and aid in the draping of the patient; communicate the surgeon’s preference to the surgical team.

7. Injects local anesthesia, and/or performs incision dissection and/or secondary or subsequent trocar placement for procedure entry. 

8. Uses appropriate knowledge of normal pathological anatomy and physiology, and recognizes and responds appropriately to surgical events.

9. Provides visualization or assistance such as retraction, knot tying, suctioning/irrigation, application of hemostatic agents, and ESU hemostasis, as appropriate to the operative site.

10. Injects postoperative local, and/or performs insertion of drains, and/or closure of wound/body planes


11. Participates in splinting and immobilization, and/or placement of dressings

12. Transfers patient

Clinicals are to be set up by the college and student at their choice of clinical facility or place of employment in cooperation with the school. Students may begin clinical at the beginning of the program following completion of pre-clinical competencies; completion of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and other student file requirements.

Admissions Eligibility Requirements

  1. Must be a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA), Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA), 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.  
  2. Must have a minimum of one-year operating room experience.
  • SUR-280 Surgical Anatomy (5 credit hours)
  • SUR-288 Principles of Surgical Assisting (6 credit hours)
  • SUR-295 Surgical First Assistant Clinical (1 credit hour)

Please note the above courses. For the fall semester, these 3 courses = 12 credit hours and coincide with one another. They run consecutively. You begin clinical (SUR 295) as soon as your affiliation agreement is in place AND complete your 3 evaluations in SUR 288…which should be shortly after beginning the semester. NOTE: all three of these courses will be listed on a blackboard.  Make sure you view the syllabus and instructions on EACH of these courses.

  • SUR-282 Perioperative Bioscience (3 credit hours)
  • SUR-294 Surgical First Assistant Practicum ( 4 credit hours)
  • SUR-286 Surgical Anatomy (5 credit hours)
  • SUR-297 Surgical First Assistant Practicum II (1 credit hour)
Upon completion of the program, the graduate will take the National Certification Exam (currently CSFA). Graduates from this program are eligible to take the national certifying exam for First Assistant offered through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (CSFA) and the National Surgical Assistant Association exam (CSA).


Application Process

Qualified candidates must contact Surgical First Assistant Program Coordinator, Jeff Bidwell at to request a Surgical First Assistant Program Guide and link to the online Surgical First Assistant Program Application form. Application deadline is June 15.  Applications received after May 1st will only be considered if spots are available in the class. 

Technical Standards

Surgical First Assistant Program (Online) involves the provision of direct care for individuals and is characterized by the application of verified knowledge in the skillful performance of Surgical First Assistant Program (Online) technical functions. Therefore, all applicants should possess sufficient:

  • visual acuity, such as is needed in the surgical environment and for the observation necessary for patient assessment and care;

  • auditory perception to receive verbal communication from patients and members of the health team and to assess health needs of people through the use of monitoring devices (e.g., cardiac monitors, biomedical equipment, fire alarms, etc.);

  • gross and fine motor coordination to respond promptly and to implement the skills, including the manipulation of equipment, positioning and lifting patients required in meeting health needs related to Surgical First Assistant Program (Online);

  • verbal and non-verbal communication skills (speech, reading, and writing), such as are needed in classroom and clinical settings to interact with patients and professional personnel; and

  • intellectual and emotional functions to plan and implement care for individuals.

Associate in Applied Science in Surgical First Assisting

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

The residency requirement for the AAS degree in Surgical Assisting is 24 hours; 16 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


Madisonville Community College Surgical First Assistant program is accredited by:

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
9355 - 113th St. N, #7709
Seminole, FL 33775
Phone: (727) 210-2350 | Fax: (727) 210-2354

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs Logo

Surgical First Assisting Cohort Outcomes:

2021-2022 Surgical First Assistant cohort:

  • Retention: 82%

  • 77 students held the CSFA at the end of one year from date of graduation 

  • 5 students took the CSFA but failed to pass within one year of graduation 

  • 34 students did not take the CSFA exam within one year of graduation 

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Program Contact


Surgical First Assistant Program Director


Aaron Morris CST. CSA. KCSA

Clinical Instructor