Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) Certificate

Nursing students stand beside hospital beds before an instructor

Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) Certificate

Program Description 

Designed for registered nurses who qualify for CNOR certification and advanced practice registered nurses to achieve certification for surgical first assistant roles, the Registered Nurse First Assistant certificate program at Rockhurst University’s Saint Luke’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences is a pathway to a career as an in-demand perioperative nursing professional.

Why an RNFA?

RNFA-certified nursing professionals take on enhanced roles as surgical team leaders in hospitals and surgical centers. According to the AORN position statement (2022), RNFA’s are qualified as experts in perioperative care, including:

  • Preoperative patient management in collaboration with other health care providers, such as
    • performing focused preoperative nursing assessments and
    • communicating and collaborating with other health care providers regarding the patient’s plan of care; and 
  • Intraoperative performance of surgical first assistant techniques, such as
    • using instruments and medical devices,
    • providing surgical site exposure,
    • handling and/or cutting tissue,
    • providing hemostasis,
    • suturing, and
    • wound management; and
  • Postoperative patient management in collaboration with other health care providers in the immediate postoperative period and beyond, such as 
    • participating in postoperative rounds and o assisting with patient discharge planning, and 
    • identifying appropriate community resources as needed.

Benefits of the RNFA program at Rockhurst University:

  • A total of 12 credit hours consisting of two courses that can be completed in one semester
  • Coursework can be completed online, asynchronously, with one required three-day on-campus immersion experience
  • Courses taught by experienced, qualified nursing faculty
  • Health care education in the Jesuit tradition, emphasizing leadership and compassion

Prospective Students 

Note: To apply for the RNFA program, start a general graduate application, then select "Nursing and Health Sciences (PT, OT, CSD, Nursing) Non-degree seeking" to see RNFA in the available options.

Learning Outcomes 

  • Ability to collaborate with the surgeon and other health care team members to achieve optimal patient outcomes
  • Possess the knowledge, judgment and skills specific to the expanded role of RNFA clinical practice, including patient safety, surgical procedures and suture techniques
  • Ability to practice intraoperatively at the direction of the surgeon

Current Students 


  • Nursing faculty with industry, clinical and teaching experience.
  • Networking opportunities with the largest employers in the Kansas City area.
  • Local volunteer opportunities outside of the classroom through our student organizations.
  • Academic advising and peer tutoring available through the Student Resource Center.


Students who complete the RNFA program will possess the skills and knowledge necessary to take on expanded responsibilities as part of a surgical team of care.