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Surgical First Assistant Program (Minnesota)

The Surgical First Assistant Program prepares an individual to function as a surgical first assistant after completing approximately five months of classroom and lab education and seven months of clinic time.

Classroom time is spent learning about the operating room culture and techniques, participating in an intensive anatomy review with the cadaver lab, and learning about expectations of the surgical assistant. Clinicals are conducted in the various surgical suites of Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester to obtain the necessary technical skills vital to this role.

Upon successful completion of this program, students acquire:

  • Advanced understanding of human anatomy
  • Refined surgical skills (suturing and hemostasis, patient safety and wound care)
  • Extensive knowledge of surgical procedures
  • Appropriate professional standards

Gainful employment disclosure report

The Department of Education requires disclosure of student debt and employment information to assist students in making informed decisions prior to enrolling in this education program.


The Surgical First Assistant Program will pursue accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) after the first year of the program is completed.

See accreditation information for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Affiliated institution

Mayo Clinic is affiliated with Eastern Virginia Medical School, but students are not required to enroll there to complete this program.


The Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, Minn., includes an extensive outpatient complex, Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, and substantial research and education facilities.

This Mayo Clinic site is among the largest, most advanced medical centers in the world.

Students spend time in the Multidisciplinary Simulation Center and human anatomy lab and clinical time in the surgical suites of Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester as well as same-day surgical suites in the Gonda Building.

Graduation and certification

Upon successful completion of the Surgical First Assistant Program, students receive a certificate of completion from Mayo School of Health Sciences.

Graduates are eligible to take the Certified Surgical Assistant exam from the National Surgical Assistant Association. This exam is offered on-site for the surgical first assistant student upon completion of the clinical rotations.


During the Surgical First Assistant Program, the classroom portion of the program includes four-hour days, three days a week.

During the clinical portion, students are expected to be present from the start through the completion of certain surgical procedures, which may run longer than a standard eight-hour day. Students are required to complete an entire surgical procedure, which means the potential for a few days of more than 10 hours. The schedule is variable based on cases listed in the surgical suite and time available for students to present their cases.

Students are not expected to work a long day and then return early the following morning. Flexibility in scheduling ensures all students receive adequate rest and time off.

Class size

Each year, Mayo School of Health Sciences admits up to 20 students to the Surgical First Assistant Program. This ensures students receive close one-on-one instruction and a comprehensive educational experience.

  • Nov 6, 2013
  • ART315567