Becoming a certified surgical assistant is a way to move out of an entry-level surgical technologist position into a higher-level job that includes leadership responsibilities. The role still assists in the operating room but includes administrative duties critical to patients, employees, and surgical teams. If this interests you, there are a few different ways to becoming a certified surgical assistant.
Review your current education. If you have an associate degree in surgical technology or even a bachelor degree in nursing, the educational path to becoming a certified surgical assistant will be a little more accessible.
In most cases, you must have successfully passed the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam conducted by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Your next step is to enter an approved, certified surgical assistant program. However, it’s possible admissions requirements will include some or all of the following:
- Experience in an operating room completed within the last 3-5 years.
- Documentation of a current healthcare provider CPR certification.
- Updated, current immunizations.
- Specific science-based course work such as microbiology taken within the last 7 years.
After fulfilling these requirements, chances are you can complete a surgical assistant program in 12-24 months. With your degree in hand, you will then be eligible to take the Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA) exam.
In some cases, active military surgical training can be considered instead of a more traditional education.
Surgical Assistant Certification
With an appropriate training foundation, there are several ways to becoming a Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA). Each method creates your eligibility to take the certification exam.
The National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants (NCCSA) administers the Certified Surgical Assistant credential.
There are two ways to become a CSA. They are:
- Graduate from an NCCSA-approved surgical assisting program which is also approved by either CAAHEP or ABHES with appropriate experience. This is the most common path.
- Active military surgical training with appropriate experience.
When you fill out the application, you must document your experience. You must also present a current, unencumbered Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. It’s best to check the NCCSA website for the specific documents you’ll need to verify your status. (https://www.csaexam.com/education/approved-programs/).
Another way to become a certified surgical assistant is by obtaining the Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) credential offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).
There are four ways to become eligible to test for this credential, the last of which leads to dual certification.
- Graduate from a CAAHEP-approved surgical first assisting program with appropriate experience.
- Possess a current, unencumbered Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) license with appropriate experience.
- Graduate from a military surgical technology training program with appropriate experience.
- Possess a current, unencumbered Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA) credential with appropriate experience.
Check the NBSTSA site for the specific documentation you need to include with your application.
Individual states may require licensure or registration of surgical assistants. For example, surgical assistants in Texas must meet multiple licensure requirements. These include a minimum of 2000+ hours of experience in the past three years. Colorado is another state with specific criteria. Check your particular state for their requirements.
Continuing Education and License Renewal
Once you have your CSA license, you must renew it every two years. You’ll need a minimum of continuing education credits, plus a fee to do so. The CSFA license works the same way, but currently, the renewal cycle is every four years. Continuing education can be obtained through your employer or a professional organization, such as the Association of Surgical Assistants (ASA) or the National Surgical Assistant Association (NSAA).
For more detailed information on becoming a surgical assistant, visit The Apprentice Doctor (www.theapprenticedoctor.com/becoming-certified-surgical-first-assistant/).
The Apprentice Doctor endeavors to be a positive influence in the lives of future medical professionals all over the world and to enthuse these aspiring medical professionals towards reaching their goals and dreams. It does this by offering hopeful allied health professionals worldwide a glimpse into the field of medicine with suitable medical and surgical simulation training resources and events.