College Overview

Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)


The USF Health College of Nursing collaborates with Tampa General Hospital to offer a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) Program. This uniquely designed CE skills-based certificate program will provide specialty certification and training for nurses to function as a first assistant in the operating room and to practice beyond their normal scope of practice. The RNFA program helps nurses enhance their skills, abilities, and provides an opportunity to increase their salary.

According to the AORN, an RNFA is defined by the following:

  • works in collaboration with the surgeon and other healthcare team members to achieve optimal patient outcomes;
  • has acquired the necessary knowledge, judgment, and skills specific to the expanded role of RNFA clinical practice;
  • intraoperatively practices at the direction of the surgeon; and
  • does not concurrently function as a scrub person. 

Participants who enroll into the program will participate in this tri-phased program. The program includes asynchronous education modules (didactic curriculum), an in-person simulation lab (simulation experience), and a hands-on practicum record of preceptor supervised cases (clinical training).

  • Didactic Curriculum

    The didactic curriculum contains education modules which participants will complete asynchronously. In the modules, participants will find readings, videos, discussions, and quizzes. Participants must complete this phase in its entirety before preceding to the next phase – simulation experiences. Participants follow the plan of study below:

    • Module I: RNFA Practice Essentials
    • Module IIA: Communication as a Perioperative Team Member
    • Module IIB: Perioperative Care of the COVID-19 Patient
    • Module III: Surgical Techniques and Methods•Module IV.1: General Surgery•Module IV.2: Minimally Invasive Surgery
    • Module IV.3: Orthopedics - THAs•Module IV.4: Orthopedics - Fracture Care and Fixation•Module IV.5: Neurology
    • Module IV.6: Cardiovascular•Module IV.7: Peripheral Vascular•Module IV.8: Otolaryngology
    • Module V: Perioperative Complications•Module VI: Plastic Surgery

    You will earn 45 CEs for the didactic curriculum.

  • Simulation Experience

    The simulation experience will be conducted near or at the end of the didactic semester. During this training the participant will be evaluated on the knowledge and skills necessary for safe practice including sterile technique, positioning, and draping, using instruments and medical devices, providing exposure, handling and cutting tissue, providing hemostasis, and suturing. Attendance at the simulation/cadaver course is not optional. Fellows are required to attend this event. Failure to attend will result in dismissal from the program or a delay in graduation as this event occurs once each year. Exceptions may be granted on an individual basis.

    You will earn 45 CEs for the simulation experience.

  • Clinical Training

    The clinical competent of the program will require the maintenance of a portfolio. Participants will be required to maintain and eventually submit a portfolio within the training course.The portfolio will include time-stamped procedure log. The procedure log will include a description of the procedures performed. All procedures logged must be supervised by a USF affiliated preceptor at an approved clinical training site. Participants will demonstrate advanced competence in providing a wide range of surgical related procedures.

    You will earn 45 CEs for the simulation experience.

Accreditation Statement

USF Health is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

A maximum of 135 contact hours may be earned by the learners who successfully complete this activity.

The learner will earn:

  • 45 ANCC contact hours for successful completion of the Didactic Curriculum•45 ANCC contact hours for successful completion of the Simulation Experience
  • 45 ANCC contact hours for successful completion of the Clinical Training

Relevant Financial Relationships

All individuals in a position to influence content for this activity have disclosed to USF Health any financial relationship they have with an ineligible organization. There are no relevant financial relationships to disclose or mitigate.

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By the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  •  Analyze and describe perioperative, intraoperative, and postoperative patient management.
  • Describe methods and demonstrate surgical assisting using instruments and medical devices, providing exposure, handling and cutting tissue, providing hemostasis, and suturing.
  • Comprehend and interpret written material, including writing postoperative orders and procedure notes according to established protocols.
  • Synthesize information from written material and apply the knowledge to various situations.

Program Handbook:

Information regarding certification and RNFA standards can be obtained at: Program Handbook


Certification is not required to function under the Florida State Nurse Practice Act as an RNFA.  The program is completed within 2 semesters (1 academic year) which involves web-based classes and on-site Lab components.


Completion of a program that meets the National Assisting at Surgery Certification (NASC) guidelines.

National information: 

For national information, visit

Testing information:

For testing information, visit National Assistants at Surgery Certification (NASC).

Register now to enroll into the RNFA

Program Director:

Marcia Johansson, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC
Associate Professor    


Nicholas Troeleman, RNFA

Kelly Murphy, RNFA

Michael Wallingford, RNFA

Program Administration:

Ann Joyce, PhD
Association Director of Continuing Education