Upstate News

July 9, 2007
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Registered Nurse First Assistant program now offered at SUNY Upstate Medical University

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SUNY Upstate Medical University’s College of Nursing now offers a Registered Nurse First Assistance (RNFA) program that will educate and train nurses to directly assist surgeons during surgical procedures, such as clamping vessels, closing incisions and suturing, and provide pre and post-surgery patient care services.

The six-credit program, to be offered for the first time in Central New York this fall, will provide the necessary training for nurses to work in this specialized area of nursing. Only board certified or board eligible nurse practitioners or registered nurses with two or more years of peri-operative nursing experience are eligible for admittance in the program.

Application deadline for the program is July 20. For more information on the program, call the College of Nursing at 315-464-4276, or download an application at

College of Nursing officials say providing this RNFA program comes at a time when these advanced nursing skills are in demand. “As medical procedures continue to advance technologically and the need for specialized surgery increases, the need for professional, highly trained surgical assistants is also growing,” said program director Barbara Black, clinical associate professor of nursing.

Black said that local nurses and nurse practitioners had sought out an RFNA program in Central New York so they could receive the extra training and still be near family and work responsibilities. Previously, RNFA training programs have been offered at the University of Rochester and SUNY Buffalo. “We also know there is considerable interest among nurses from some of the area’s rural hospitals,” Black said. “The advanced skill sets theses nurses would bring to rural hospitals would be especially desirable as it would expand access to surgical care for patients in those communities.”

As of 2004, more than 8,000 nurses nationwide were trained as RNFAs and employed in various settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices and ambulatory care centers.

The program consists of two courses, one each taken during the Fall and Spring semesters. The Fall course focuses on the theoretical concepts related to the delivery of care to surgical patients in all aspects of the surgical experience. The course is offered Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Classes begin Aug. 28.

The Spring course is a clinical practicum, during which students will assist with preoperative, intra-operative and post-operative patient management. A minimum of 225 hours must be spent in a clinical setting.

Upon completion of the program, nurses will be able work as an RNFA. Certification as an RNFA, which requires passing a national certification exam, is not mandatory, but is often desirable for employers and reimbursement practices.

The College of Nursing program is based on the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) educational guidelines and core curriculum.

Tuition for RNFA students, who are residents of New York state, is $288 per credit hour or $864 per course, per semester. Campus fees, prorated for the course load, will also apply for all matriculated students.

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