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Information for School of Nursing Students: All School of Nursing courses for the remainder of the semester will take place online beginning Monday, March 23rd. See our FAQ page for more information

RN First Assistant Course

Why Choose Our RN First Assistant Course?

Are you a certified operating room nurse (CNOR), and ready to take on an expanded role? Or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) with the desire to follow your surgical patients throughout their perioperative experience?

This hands-on course will provide you with an in-depth look at the essential elements of RN First Assistant practice, including scope of practice, the nursing process as a foundation for practice, and communication and safety skills. You will gain skills in tissue handling and wound healing, surgical procedures, and management of perioperative complications.

The course begins with a four-day on-campus session where you will learn from interactive presentations by surgeons and current RNFAs. You will complete the remainder of the coursework at a distance, then complete a 200-hour clinical practicum with a board-certified surgeon preceptor of your choice.

Fifty hours of this internship can be pre- or post-operative, the remainder must be intra-operative.

This course is designed for students who already hold a degree in nursing. It is based on the guidelines set forth by Association of Peri-Operative Registered Nurses (AORN) and is an acceptable program for CRNFA or RNAS-C eligibility. It is approved for 6 graduate level credits. 

Application & Program Requirements

  • current RN license in same state in which the clinical internship will be undertaken
  • verification that you are eligible for or currently have one of the following credentials:
    • CNOR—if the student is not certified as a CNOR at the time of admission, proof of certification must be submitted before a certificate of completion is awarded.
    • APRN—proof of recognition must be submitted before a certificate of completion is awarded.
  • Effective January 1, 2020 the education level for entry into an RNFA program and, subsequently, RNFA practice will be the baccalaureate degreeAORN recommends that RNs who were practicing as RNFAs prior to January 1, 2020 and do not have a baccalaureate degree be permitted to continue to practice as RNFAs. Anyone who wants to begin practicing as an RNFA after January 1, 2020 should hold a baccalaureate degree.
  • verification from a board certified surgeon agreeing to act as preceptor. You will need to find a preceptor and coordinate this agreement. This can be in the form of a letter on letterhead signed by the surgeon or an email from the surgeon's hospital or surgery center email address. See requirements for the surgeon letter.
  • curriculum vitae or resume
  • information for the hospital or surgery center where you plan to complete clinical placement, including name, address, and contact information. This information is used to put together an official legal Clinical Placement Agreement between our school and the hospital, which is necessary to complete clinical hours and the program. This generally takes 6 weeks or more to complete.
  • two recommendations (must be completed through our online application) from an OR manager, surgeon, or nursing peer, that assess:
    • the level of proficiency in the role of scrubbing, circulating or first assisting, if any
    • one's ability to perform effectively in stressful and emergency situations
    • one's ability to perform effectively and harmoniously as a team member
    • one's ability to perform effectively as a leader
  • certification in CPR or basic cardiac life support (BCLS) (required) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) (preferred)
  • notice of Health Examination/Immunization Form ($30 fee)
  • proof of health care insurance (current insurance card)


Apply Online

To secure your spot in the next RN First Assistant course session, please begin the application process as soon as possible. You will be able to save and come back to your application as you submit various materials.

Apply Online

Program Duration

Two to three semesters, depending on practicum schedule

Upcoming Course Sessions:

Feb. 10-13, 2020

June 8-11, 2020

TBD, October 2020

Helen Wood Hall, UR School of Nursing
255 Crittenden Blvd., Rochester, NY 14642
Maps and Directions
Nearby Hotels

Application Deadlines

The RN First Assistant Program is offered each year in June, October, and February. Preference is given to those who already have a placement agreement and those who already have CNOR/NP certification.
  • For June Class Session:
    Early admission: March 1 ($25 fee)
    Regular Admission: April 1 ($50 fee)
  • For October Class Session:
    Early Admission: July 1 ($25 fee)
    Regular Admission: Aug. 1 ($50 fee)
  • For February Class Session:
    Early admission: Nov. 1 ($25 fee)
    Regular Admission: Dec. 1 ($50 fee)

Program Costs

The cost of the RN First Assistant Course is:
    • $4,000* 
    • Please note: there is a $25 early admission and $50 late admission non-refundable application fee, as well as a $30 health update fee.


Julius Cheng
Professor, Department of Surgery & Pediatrics
Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Julius Cheng is certified by the American Board of Surgery. He is a member of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, The Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American Medical Association.
Marialaina Chennell
Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing
Sabrina Fisher, MS, RN, ACNP
Instructor of Clinical Nursing
Sue Frederick, MS, RN, FNP, RNFA
Instructor of Clinical Nursing

What You Can Do as an RNFA

Upon completing the RN First Assistant Program from the UR School of Nursing, you’ll be prepared take on nursing roles in a variety of ways:

Work for the operating room of a hospital
Work directly with one physician or a physician group
Work for yourself