of only 14 surgical first assistant programs in the nation
The 12-month Surgical First Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, offers the best accredited certificate training program in the Midwest. You will gain an advanced understanding of human anatomy, while refining your surgical skills. This program prepares you with the knowledge and skills needed to become an effective member of a surgical team with an extensive knowledge of surgical procedures, all while learning the appropriate professional standards of the role.
Surgical first assistants, or first assists, act as a second pair of hands for surgeons during surgery. They work in the operating room, assisting the surgeon with equipment, retracting incisions, stopping bleeding, closing the incision, among other hands-on tasks during surgery.
Choosing Mayo Clinic
- A curriculum that includes five months of classroom and lab education and seven months of clinical experience, which allows you to start your career more quickly.
- Training experiences at one of the largest surgical suites with one of the most advanced medical centers in the nation.
- A focus on hands-on and tactical training where you’ll work on hundreds of cases that far exceeds the accreditation board’s minimum hours of clinical experience.
Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive a certificate of completion from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. The program requires a grade of 70 percent or greater to pass a course. All courses and clinical work must be completed consecutively; deviation from scheduled coursework is not permitted.
Our goal is to prepare individuals to become competent members of the surgical team. We start in the classroom, focusing on various technical skills with extensive hands-on experiences in lab sessions. As the student transitions into the clinical setting, they are fully prepared to the apply the knowledge and skills gained in the lab to care for our patients with the support of our experienced preceptors.
Sarah Penkava, M.S.N., R.N.
Surgical First Assistant Program Director
You will be exposed to some of the most brilliant medical minds and practitioners the world has to offer. Not only will you learn from them, you will have the opportunity to work alongside them. These experiences are invaluable as they pertain to becoming a well-rounded surgical assistant. Furthermore, being at Mayo allows you access to the most cutting-edge technology modern medicine has to offer. You will learn how to operate and manage these resources from experienced professionals.
Matthew Shedd, C.S.A.
2019 graduate who now works as a certified surgical assistant at Mayo Clinic
How to apply
We care about more than grades and test scores
Behind the scenes: Surgical first assistant
Explore what a surgical first assistant does
Surgical first assistants work closely with surgeons in the operating room. They anticipate the needs of the surgical team and assist the surgeon by preparing equipment, retracting incisions, stopping bleeding, and closing incisions.
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New Mayo PA Program earns key approval
Mayo Clinic was notified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) that its new PA Program has received the desired provisional accreditation. Program Director Michael Huckabee, MPAS, PA-C, PhD, explains, “This accreditation puts us on-track to hire Mayo-trained physician assistants in two years.” The ARC-PA requires new programs to obtain provisional status before the first cohort of students begin the program. Once the first cohort of students graduate, the program is considered for accreditation-continuing status.
The PA Program has already selected its inaugural class of 24 students, including five Mayo Clinic employees, to begin Monday, August 24. The length of the program is 24 months, with the second year involving clinical rotations for each PA student beginning August 2021. Graduates will receive the Master of Health Sciences degree in PA Studies from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. The program collaborates with Saint Mary’s University and the University of Minnesota Rochester to offer a unique 3+2 program. This allows selected college freshman to complete the master’s degree program in five years instead of the traditional six, supporting Mayo Clinic’s workforce of the future. Mayo Clinic remains committed to the longstanding collaboration with the University of Wisconsin La Crosse traditional PA master’s degree program.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that limits in-person education, Mayo’s PA Program continues to develop day-to-day learning strategies of the new curriculum. Active learning principles are at the forefront, with enhancements in place using digital resources and technology, such as point-of-care ultrasound and virtual reality/enhanced reality (VR/ER), among others. With these tools in place, opportunities to move our curriculum to primarily online learning are possible, though at this point it is not an expectation.
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.
Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.
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Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences: Surgical First Assistant Program
200 1st St SW, Rochester (MN), 55902, United States
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|Work hours||Add information|
|About||A 12 month, post Baccalaureate certificate awarded in Surgical First Assisting.|
|Mission||Mayo School of Health Sciences upholds all federal and state laws that preclude discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or veteran's status.|
|Description|| Each year, The Mayo School of Health Sciences admits up to 20 students to the Surgical First Assistant Program. This ensures you will receive close one-on-one instruction and a comprehensive educational experience. The program prepares an individual to function as a Surgical First Assistant after completing approximately five months of classroom education and seven months of lab and clinic time.|
Classroom time is spent learning about the operating room culture and techniques, intensive anatomy review with cadaver lab, and expectations of the surgical assistant. Clinicals will be conducted in the various surgical suites of Mayo Clinic, at the Minnesota campus to obtain the necessary technical skills vital to this role.
Upon successful completion of this program you will have acquired:
Advanced understanding human anatomy
Refined surgical skills (suturing and hemostasis, patient safety, wound care)
Extensive knowledge of surgical procedures
Appropriate professional standards
Graduates will receive a certificate of completion from Mayo School of Health Sciences and are eligible to take the Certified Surgical Assistant exam from the National Surgical Assistant Association (NSAA).
For more information about the Surgical First Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, please contact:
Sarah Penkava, Program Director
Surgical First Assistant Program
Enrollment and Student Services
Email: [email protected]
Mayo School of Health Sciences
Siebens Medical Education Building 11
200 First Street S.W.
Rochester, MN 55905
Or visit our Website:
For more information on the Surgical First Assistant profession, please visit:
National Surgical Assistant Association:
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What does a surgical first assistant do?
A surgical first assistant, also referred to as a surgical assistant or simply a first assist, works closely with surgeons in the operating room during a surgical procedure. They anticipate the needs of the surgical team and during an operation, assist the surgeon with tasks such as selecting equipment, holding open incisions, stopping bleeding, closing the incision, among other technical tasks.
Scope of practice
Surgical first assistants interact with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other health care staff. They work very closely with patients of all ages. They have responsibilities before, during, and after surgical procedures.
Common roles and responsibilities of a surgical first assistant include:
- Positioning the patient for surgery and aiding with draping
- Clearing the area where the surgeon will operate and holding open incisions by using tissue retractors, sponges, or operating suction or irrigation equipment
- Selecting and passing instruments and supplies during an operation
- Stopping bleeding by sponging, clamping, tying, or cauterizing vessels, or suturing tissue layers as directed by the surgeon
- Applying dressings to surgical wounds
- Counting sponges, needles, and other materials before and after the operation
- Closing the incision at the end of the procedure
The list above is certainly not comprehensive as the role of a surgical first assistant will vary greatly depending on the surgical procedure, specialty area, and type of facility.
Surgical first assistant vs. surgical technologist
While similar, the duties of a surgical technologist and surgical first assistant vary. A surgical technologist is responsible for surgical equipment management and preparing the operating room. The surgical first assistant is more focused on assisting the surgeon during surgery. Depending on the facility, specific duties may be interchangeable between surgical first assistants and surgical technologists.
There are currently no formal specialization programs for certified surgical first assistants, but this role is needed across virtually all types of specialty surgeries. Depending on the institution or hospital, a surgical first assistant may help with a variety of specialty areas including:
- Cardiovascular intervention
- Obstetrics and gynecology
- Oral and maxillofacial procedures
- Plastic and reconstructive surgery
Surgical first assistants most often work in hospital operating rooms, outpatient centers, or specialty departments.
Surgical first assistants work daytime or evening shifts and can be on call for overnight or weekend periods on a rotating basis. This role requires you to be on your feet for long periods of time during a shift.
Becoming a surgical first assistant
Many employers may look for surgical first assistants who are able to perform well under pressure, work efficiently with attention to detail, and are open to continuously learning about new surgical procedures and techniques.
Surgical first assistant positions are not entry-level roles; you will typically need to have several years of experience working either as a surgical technologist or another position related to surgery. While gaining operating room experience, it is helpful to develop solid professional relationships with surgeons or other surgical staff since many surgical first assistant training programs require letters of recommendation.
Higher education requirements
Admissions requirements for specific first assist training programs will vary. After a high school education or equivalent, some common education requirements and prerequisites include:
- Bachelor's degree or two-year associate degree in surgical technology
- Specific coursework in human anatomy, basic sciences, or microbiology
- Several years of experience in the operating room as a surgical technologist, nurse, or other allied health position
- Completion of an accredited surgical first assistant program
In addition to completing an accredited surgical first assistant program, most employers also require certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and/or the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants (NCCSA). Once certified, surgical first assistants work under the credentials of certified surgical first assistants (CSFA).
Career opportunities and outlook
Certified surgical first assistants nationwide earn a median salary of approximately $52,000. This is widely dependent on experience, qualifications, and location.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of health technologists, including surgical first assistants, to grow over 7% until 2029. Advances in medical technology as well as a growing patient population in need of surgical intervention will increase demand for certified surgical first assistants nationwide.
From surgical technologist to surgical first assistant: Many surgical first assistants start as surgical technologist or surgical techs before advancing into the role of a surgical first assistant. In order to become a surgical first assistant, a surgical technologist would need to have several years of experience in the operating room, meet the prerequisites and educational requirements to apply to and complete an accredited surgical first assistant program, and then pass the exam to become a certified surgical first assistant (CSFA).
From surgical first assistant to physician assistant or registered nurse: The pathway from a surgical first assistant to physician assistant or registered nurse is not a direct path. To become a physician assistant or registered nurse, a surgical first assistant would first need to ensure they meet the educational requirements and prerequisites needed to attend a physician assistant program or nursing program. After completing an advanced degree and training program, they would need to obtain any necessary certifications needed to practice as a physician assistant or registered nurse.
From surgical first assistant to surgeon: In order to become a surgeon, surgical first assistant would need several years of advanced education and additional training. However, their surgical experience will certainly help in their journey. A surgical first assistant would first need to ensure they meet the educational requirements and prerequisites needed to attend medical school. After attending medical school, surgeons must complete several years within a residency and possible fellowship before being able to practice as a surgeon.
By the numbers
Surgical first assistant programs at Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic offers a one-year Surgical First Assistant Program in Rochester, Minnesota, to prepare students for a career as a certified surgical first assistant (CSFA).
Browse similar careers
Back to topSours: https://college.mayo.edu/academics/explore-health-care-careers/careers-a-z/surgical-first-assistant/
First assistant program mayo clinic
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