Surgical First Assistant Career Guide

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A Surgical First Assistant (SFA) is a highly skilled healthcare professional who works alongside surgeons in the operating room, playing a critical role in ensuring safe and successful surgical procedures. SFAs provide vital assistance before, during and after surgeries, enhancing patient outcomes and maintaining a sterile surgical environment.

Essential Job Functions:

SFAs have diverse responsibilities, including prepping and draping patients,


To become a Surgical First Assistant, you typically need to be a licensed Registered Nurse (RN), Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), or Physician Assistant (PA) with specialized training in surgical assisting. Educational pathways can include associate or bachelor's degrees in nursing or surgical technology, as well as PA programs.

A stethoscope held in one hand

Related certifications

Surgical First Assistants must meet specific qualifications, which often include completing an accredited surgical assisting program, obtaining certification such as Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) through organizations like the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and gaining hands-on clinical experience.


Staff and Travel SFAs require a wide range of skills, including a deep understanding of surgical procedures, proficiency in surgical instrumentation, strong communication skills and the ability to remain composed under pressure. Attention to detail, teamwork and a commitment to patient safety are essential attributes.

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The primary responsibility of an SFA is to provide skilled assistance to the surgeon during surgery. This involves preparing the operating room, positioning and prepping the patient, handling surgical instruments, suturing wounds and ensuring sterile conditions are maintained.

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Surgical First Assistant

The average salary for a Surgical First Assistant is $2,298.96 per week.

Last updated on September 20, 2023. Based on active jobs on

Pros & Cons

Becoming a Surgical First Assistant offers numerous benefits. It allows you to actively participate in life-changing surgeries, work closely with surgical teams and contribute to improved patient outcomes. SFAs often enjoy a high level of job satisfaction and competitive compensation.

However, the role comes with challenges, including long hours in the operating room, exposure to stressful situations, and physically demanding work.

Surgical First Assistant Jobs

View job details for Springfield, ILTravel ContractSpringfield, ILTravel Surgical First AssistantADN Healthcare$3,137/wk
Referral Bonus
Posted 12 days ago
View job details for Atlanta, GATravel ContractAtlanta, GATravel Surgical First AssistantKPG Allied$3,074/wk
Posted 2 days ago
View job details for Green Township, OHTravel ContractGreen Township, OHTravel Surgical First AssistantPlanet Healthcare$2,904/wk
Referral Bonus
View job details for Chambersburg, PATravel ContractChambersburg, PATravel Surgical First AssistantJackson Nurse Professionals$2,747/wk
Posted 1 day ago

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