Operating Students 4 - 3

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

Surgical First Assistant is a selective admission program. In addition to MCC’s general admission requirements, candidates to the program must complete the following:

Qualifications for entering program:

  • Proof of Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) or Certified Nurse-Operating Room (CNOR) or completion of entry level surgical technology program plus experience working in the operating room.
  • Current CPR or BLS certification (copy of certification)

Requirements for program after your initial acceptance into the program:

  • Complete online application to the college
  • Proof of Immunizations as required by precepting facility(s). This is often your employee health records.
  • Drug Screen/Background Check*  
  • Copy of Driver’s License 
  • Copy of Employee Badge 
  • Letters of recommendation (1 must be from precepting surgeon; others may be from surgeons, surgical assistants or supervisors/managers).

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 CSA and CSFA exam 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

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”