Surgical First Assistant

Continuing Professional Development (short course)


Module level: 6

Module credits: 30 credits

Number of places:30


Our Surgical First Assistant module will give you the knowledge and skills to work as a surgical first assistant, providing non-interventional assistance to surgeons during operations and delivering safe and effective care to patients. It's a structured programme based on the current national guidance, which was developed by the Perioperative Care Collaborative (PCC, 2018).

At ARU, our Surgical First Assistant level 6 module allows you, as a registered nurse or operating department practitioner, to participate in assisting surgeons during operations.

We anticipate that you'll have a minimum of two years' post-registration operating theatre experience and be able to demonstrate current experience in the scrub role. This is to ensure that you come to the module with a good understanding of the role of a surgical first assistant.

As a surgical first assistant, you’ll be expected to demonstrate appropriate knowledge, skills and expertise to ensure a positive outcome for patients. This module will equip you to practice at a suitable level.

Once you've completed the Surgical First Assistant course at ARU, you'll be in a position to make sure this role is used appropriately in your organisation, reducing the risk to patients and staff and improving safety.

You will need the support of your manager, a mentor and clinical supervisor (consultant surgeon).

While the taught sessions take place from late January to late July, this module runs over a period of 12 months. You'll need support in the workplace from your manager, mentor and clinical supervisor for this period. This is to ensure that you are able to achieve the 100 hours minimum needed to meet the course requirements.

Who should attend?

You'll be a registered nurse or operating department practitioner with at least two years of post-registration theatre experience and you'll be able to demonstrate your current experience in the scrub role.


Please note that dates and delivery method(s) may be subject to change, in line with the latest Covid-19 guidelines, as necessary to ensure the safety of all.


  • 20 January 2023
  • 3, 17 February 2023
  • 3, 17, 31 March 2023
  • 12, 26 May 2023
  • 9, 23 June 2023
  • 7, 21 July 2023

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support our students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

30 Credits (Level 6) for courses starting in 2022/23


Funding for CPD

Please ask your manager or Education Lead about available funding before you apply.

Contact details

Frances Page

CPD Admissions

Entry requirements

You'll be a registered nurse or operating department practitioner with at least two years of post-registration theatre experience and you'll be able to demonstrate your current experience in the scrub role.

You'll need to have the relevant educational ability to study at university degree level, therefore you'll either hold a Diploma in Higher Education or equivalent.

You must be able to demonstrate that you have the support of your manager and that there are named individuals willing to support you as your mentor and clinical supervisor during the course.

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