Certified surgical assistants (CSA) function as part of the team in the operating room, helping the surgeon with pre-surgery preparations and facilitating during surgery. Often called first assistants, they differ from certified surgical technologists (CST) in that they are in more direct contact with the patient and possess more hands-on skills. Certification is done after graduation by testing through one of several medical associations, usually after accumulated work experience. Schools generally offer surgical assisting as advanced training, requiring students to be a CST or have a degree and/or work experience in a related allied health field before entering the program. Numerous schools now offer this training online.

Meridian Institute of Surgical Assisting

Located in Joelton, Tennessee, this specialized accredited school is the largest of its kind in the United States. It offers a three-phase course to prepare students for certification exams. Phase I consists of 13 modules of online coursework and testing; Phase II is a 60-hour intensive lab conducted on-site; and Phase III is an externship requiring the student's participation in a total of 135 actual surgeries. Unlike some programs of its kind, this school does not require students to be surgical technologists, but only to have operating room experience, college anatomy and physiology, and gainful employment.

Meridian Institute of Surgical Assisting

1264 Jackson Felts Road

Joelton, TN 37080



Macomb Community College

This school's Center Campus in Clinton Township, Michigan, offers a Surgical First Assistant advanced-study certificate as an add-on option to its associate's degree in surgical technology. Admission to the surgical technology program is selective, based on completing prerequisite courses that include microbiology, medical terminology and anatomy/physiology, as well as meeting minimum COMPASS test score requirements. The certificate program is 21 additional credits, and all courses must be passed with a C average to qualify for the certificate.

Macomb Community College (Center Campus)

44575 Garfield Road

Clinton Township, MI 48038



Lorain County Community College

This school in Ohio offers a three-semester certificate program in surgical assisting, combining online classwork with lab work and clinical experience with a total of 135 surgery cases. Students enrolling in the program must be either CSTs or LPNs working as surgical technologists, each with a minimum of two years of operating room experience. Clinical work is done in the hospital where the student currently works.

Lorain County Community College

1005 North Abbe Road

Elyria, OH 44035



Eastern Virginia Medical School

This medical school offers both a certificate of completion and a graduate certificate in surgical assisting. While the basic certificate program requires students to be CSTs with associates degrees and three years' experience (or equivalent military training and experience), the graduate certificate allows students with related bachelor's degrees to enter the program without prior medical experience. Both certificate programs combine 10 months of coursework with 12 months of clinical experience, and both have prerequisite courses in biology, microbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology.

Eastern Virginia Medical School

700 W. Olney Road

Norfolk, VA 23507



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