Delaware County Community College, Serving Delaware and Chester Counties

RN First Assistant in Surgery Program

RN First Assistant Program

The RN First Assistant in Surgery Program is a six-credit certificate program designed for Perioperative Registered Nurses. The program, established in 1985 by founder Jane C. Rothrock, PhD, RN, CNOR, FAAN, is approved for continuing education credits by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses Inc., is an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation and is acknowledged by the Competency and Credentialing Institute as meeting the educational requirements to sit for the RNFA Certification Exam. 

Faculty includes a Board Certified Surgeon and Master's prepared certified nurses with experience in Perioperative nursing and first assisting. The program is offered as a hybrid long-distance learning program that includes a five-day session at the College's Marple Campus, which is conveniently located 20 minutes from the Philadelphia International Airport. 

What is a Registered Nurse First Assistant?

A Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) is a perioperative registered nurse who functions in an expanded role or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who is functioning as a first assistant. The RNFA role is recognized within the scope of nursing practice by nurse practice acts in all 50 states.

Prerequisites for the RNFA Program

Perioperative R.N.

  • Current, active license to practice as a professional registered nurse
  • CNOR or CNOR-eligibility
  • Must be proficient in scrubbing and circulating 2 years prior
  • Letter of recommendation validating perioperative proficiency
  • Evidence of professional liability coverage
  • Current CPR certification
  • ACLS certification prior to completion of second semester (internship)
  • Must pass CNOR exam prior to completion of second semester (internship)
  • B.S. degree requirement effective 2020

Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Midwives (APRNs)

  • APRN Certification
  • ACLS Certification
  • Evidence of professional liability coverage

A special section designed for ARNP includes fundamentals of perioperative practice, such as scrubbing, gowning, gloving and instrument review. This enrichment is a continuation of the pre-campus study and perioperative modules. The College has the oldest RNFA Program with classes dedicated to and tailored for the APRN. 


First Semester NUS 207 – 3 Credits (42 CE Credits)
Our hybrid long-distance learning program includes a five-day on-campus session. This is a combination of didactic and simulation laboratory instruction. Based upon the Core Curriculum for the RN First Assistant, the program focuses on interdependent intraoperative nursing behaviors that are unique to the nurse functioning in the role of the RN First Assistant in surgery.

Second Semester NUS 208 – Internship 3 Credits (140 CE Hours)
Upon successful completion of NUS 207, students return home and may begin the Independent RNFA Internship at their facility of employment with permission. An internship consisting of a minimum of 120 hours is completed under the mentorship of a chosen surgeon preceptor(s). During this time students perform in the intraoperative role of the RNFA and document their learning experiences. The student also engages in preoperative and postoperative patient care. Learning assignments during this semester are designed to enhance learning experiences and reinforce knowledge. Students can work at their own pace and complete requirements within the semester. 

How to Apply

If you meet the qualifications and would like to apply or have questions, please contact the RNFA Program Director.

Jacqui Bak, MSN, RN, CNOR, RNFA
Program Director