How to Become a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)

How to Become a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)
How to Become a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)

Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) is an exciting career. You will serve as a right-hand man to surgeons. This position is an extension of the traditional operating room nurse. Therefore, an RNFA will perform every stage of emergency surgery such as delicate brain surgeries, knee replacements, or repair trauma. As you want to pursue a career as an RN First Assistant, this article dives into all information you need to consider. 

What is a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)?

What is a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)?
What is a Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)?

A Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) is a perioperative registered nurse who works as a first assistant during surgical operations. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), Registered Nurse First Assistants can work in a team with the surgeon and other healthcare team members to get optimal patient outcomes. Additionally, an RNFA also intraoperatively practices at the direction of the surgeon. However, they do not function as a scrub nurse. 

To practice beyond the normal scope, RN First Assistants are required to enroll in advanced coursework as well as obtain additional certifications and credentials.

What Does a Registered Nurse First Assistant Do?

What Does a Registered Nurse First Assistant Do?
What Does a Registered Nurse First Assistant Do?

The role of a Registered Nurse First Assistant varies on the surgical institution and depends on the surgeon in charge. Typically, monitoring patients’ vital signs during surgical procedures is the primary role of the Registered Nurse First Assistant. If they see complications, the RNFA must notice and help the surgeon and other medical professionals to stabilize the patient. Below are other common tasks of Registered Nurse First Assistants

  • Prepare patients for surgery.
  • Provide patient care and support before and after surgery.
  • Administer medications for patients before and after surgery.
  • Prepare all surgical tools and supplies for surgical procedures.
  • Practice surgical procedures such as controlling bleeding, draping, handling tissue, and suturing incisions
  • Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or other life-saving measures if necessary.
  • Educate patients and families about surgery after-care.
  • Conduct post-operative assessments.
  • Help develop treatment plans with the lead surgeons.
  • Assist in postoperative management.

These are just a few of the duties of Registered Nurse First Assistants and the real differences will appear in the operating room. To complete all required responsibilities, you should ask about all expectations before accepting an RNFA position.  

Registered Nurse First Assistant Salary

Registered Nurse First Assistant Salary
Registered Nurse First Assistant Salary

According to PayScale, the average salary for an RNFA is $98,000 per year. Due to the specialization of this position, the salary data is extremely limited. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the median average annual salary of registered nurses is $75,330 in May 2020. 

Though most health care systems pay nurses on an hourly scale, some other facilities have a fixed annual salary, such as nurses in a free-standing surgical center. The employee who gets an hourly scale can earn overtime pay, while salary employees have to discuss this condition with the hiring committee. 

When it comes to salary in the nursing field, you need to get additional education and gain experience for a potential income. Typically, full-time and part-time Registered Nurse First Assistants enjoy similar benefits. However, these benefits depend on the institution including

  • Health insurance 
  • Retirement Options
  • Family Leave of Absence
  • Maternity Leave
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • AORN membership benefits
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Attendance at nursing conferences

How to Become an RNFA

To become a Registered Nurse First Assistant, you must get substantial perioperative experience because this advanced training prepares the basic fundamentals and focuses on surgical anatomy, procedures, and techniques. These courses may vary throughout the state such as credit hours to work as an RNFA. Prerequisites for an RNFA also depend on the institution but commonly consist of

  • Active Registered Nurse license
  • 2 two years of perioperative nursing experience.
  • Certified Nurse Operating Room designation offered by the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI)

You are able to enroll in any training program but it must be approved by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. Once you have completed the RNFA courses, you need to become certified by getting a Certified Nurse Operating Room certification. This certification also requires an active and unencumbered RN license, a bachelor’s degree, and 2,000 hours of experience working as a Registered Nurse First Assistant. 

Conclusion

Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) is a perioperative registered nurse with an expanded role. Currently, RNFA role is recognized within the scope of nursing practice in all 50 states. So to become a good RN First Assistant, you can explore 6 traits that make a good Operating Room Nurse first.