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 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, communication, and operating room safety. You will gain clinical skills including use of surgical instruments, tissue handling and wound healing, surgical procedures, and management of perioperative complications.

The course is a five-week intensive online offering with weekly synchronous sessions where you can meet with your instructors and guest speakers and interactive, asynchronous online learning activities, including videos, active discussion boards, interactive activities and readings and resources.

We have been able to harness the expertise of our expert surgeons, RNFAs, NPs, OR Nurses and wound care/infection prevention specialists to provide a complete and thorough education based on the five modules of the AORN curriculum. This combination of learning methods allows your schedule to be flexible, while utilizing best online learning practices and enabling connection between learners, instructors and experts.

This will be followed by an in-person simulation and lab day in which students will be separated into small groups and rotate among the following activities: suture skill development; scrubbing, gowning, and gloving; instrumentation identification and handling, robotic surgery simulation; and laparoscopic simulation.

Once the lecture and skills portion of the class are completed, along with clinical onboarding and site approval, you will complete a 200 hour clinical internship with a board certified 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 US or Canadian RN license in same state or province 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.  https://www.cc-institute.org/
    • APRN—Nurse Pracitioner, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Anesthetis-proof of recognition must be submitted before a certificate of completion is awarded.
  • Baccelaureate degree in any subject area
  • 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
  • proof of health care insurance (current insurance card)
  • Clinical onboarding requirements as outlined by specific clinical placement site.


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 2021:

Spring Session:
Online February 1 - March 10
In Person Simulation Day- March 10 (Currently tentative

Summer Session:
Online June 7 - July 12
In Person Simulation Day- July 21

Fall Session:
Online October 4 - November 8
In Person Simulation Day- November 17

Application Deadlines

The RN First Assistant Program is offered each year in June, September, and February. Preference is given to those who already have a placement agreement and those who already have CNOR/NP certification.
  • For Summer Class Session:
    April 15 ($50 fee)
  • For Fall Class Session:
    July 15 ($50 fee)
  • For Spring Class Session:
    Nov. 15 ($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.


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
Donna Steo, MS, RN, CNOR
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