Surgical First Assisting – A.S. Degree Option


patchDo you want to work side by side with a surgeon performing life changing procedures?

SurgeonThis program will prepare you for the roles of Surgical Technologist (who prepares, opens and establishes the sterile field passing instruments and anticipating the surgeon’s needs) and Surgical First Assistant (who assists the surgeon with performing the surgical procedure and independently closes wounds).

  • Would you like to work in a unique environment?
    • It is a challenging fast paced environment that can change human lives. An emergency can occur anytime and no two human beings are alike so… it is never boring.
    • Every day is spent exploring the human body, becoming familiar with surgical techniques, procedures and treatments.
    • There is always something new every day. Technology and innovative changes are ongoing.
    • A surgeon mentor provides the training and guidance to perfect your surgical techniques such as tissue manipulation and wound closure.
    • As you mature, you can opt to specialize in a particular field such as General Surgery, Trauma, Open Heart, Orthopedics, Gynecology/Obstetrics, Robotic and/or Neuro Surgery.

Who is eligible for the surgical first assisting Option, A.S. program?

This program is flexible and offers options to fit your needs:class

  1. There are two program entry options: 
    • If you have no Experience, you enter the on-site 2 year program to become certified in both Surgical Technology and Surgical First Assisting. Classes begin with prerequisites/general education and Anatomy and Physiology I with lab (4 credits) in January or May every year (see schedule).  Application Packet.
    • Classes  are Open Entry/Open Exit for this option year round. Application Packet for this option.
      • External college credit is awarded to those  with current certification as a surgical technologist (CST) or have documented military training as a surgical technologist (operating room technician) which can include up to 45 college credits.
      • We work with you to develop an individualized plan that meets your needs.
      • You can do everything in your home town except for the on-site Lab Session (3-4 days on site offered in February/September every year) to learn the techniques necessary to begin clinical rotations. Those with significant SFA experience may be approved for alternate documentation of skills mastery.
      • There is an onsite clinical option; come here to complete your cases if you cannot arrange a clinical site in your home town.
  2. Program offers two exit points: You can choose the one that meets your needs.
    •  College credit certification option: 59 College Credit is available for students who already have a degree or are experienced CST to CSFA students
    • Associate’s in Surgical First Assisting degree track option: 74 College Credits - Start General Education in January


  • Overall GCSC pass rate for the surgical technology certification exam (CST) was 100% for those continuing into the SFA program. The national benchmark for the CST exam is 70%.
  • The program pass rate for the surgical first assistant certification examination (CSFA)  for 2019 was 80%. The national benchmark for the CSFA exam is 71%.
  • You'll get a great education with one of the lowest tuition rates in the state.
  • With small class sizes and professors who care, you'll get the personal attention you deserve.
  • More than 90% of our graduates would recommend Gulf Coast State College to others.



 What do graduates do?

  • Prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, prepare and maintain sterile field, prevent the risk of infection, and assist with surgical operations.
  • Anticipate the next step, passing instrument, supplies or equipment thereby facilitating the surgical procedure.
  • Work alongside surgeons, making rounds, seeing patients in the office, and assisting in surgery.
  • Surgical first assistants work within the surgical field to inject local anesthetic, make incisions, insert trocars, manipulate tissue, provide hemostasis, provide retraction, dissect tissue, suture tissue, close wounds, apply casts, and other actions as directed by surgeon.
  • You can open your own business or work with a group of surgical assists independently who assist surgeons in surgery.

Where do you work?

  • Hospitals  or ambulatory care centers
  • Work for a surgeon or surgical group
  • Join a group of surgical assistants or open your own business working with several surgeons
  • Opportunities abound, are you interested in traveling? You can apply for traveling assignments throughout the United States including Alaska and Hawaii.

If you would like further Information, go to:


 What are the expectations for pay?

  • Mean annual salary is about $46,800 per year and $22.50 per hour as a surgical technologist working in the hospital. The entry income is around $32,000 to $37,000 with a high of $64,800.LEARN
  • Salary as a Surgical First Assistant range between $40,000 to over $100,000 (ASA 2017 Salary Survey); median pay averages $60,000 for the CSFA (; Sept. 2017).

What is the Job Outlook forecast by the Bureau of Labor Statistics?

  • The need for graduates is rated as “much faster than average with an increase of 12% expected by 2026”.

What is the program’s Placement Rate?

  • 100% as an entry level surgical technologist/surgical first assistant in 2019.

What can I do with this Major?

  • You may go on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in  organizational management at GCSC or in healthcare or business management with other institutions.
  • You may also move into other related branches of medicine such as a physician’s assistant, registered nurse or physician.

 What do I earn with this program?

Upon completion of the Traditional program, you will have achieved each of the following: Surgical Technology Associate Degree in Surgical Services (HS1-AS) and Surgical First Assistant College Credit Certificate (Major Code: SFA- CCC).

 Upon completion of the SFA programs along with any additional general education and specialty courses, you can receive an Associate Degree in Surgical First Assisting (Major Code: SFA2- AS).

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Program Faculty

Shannon E. Smith, M.H.Sc., CDEI, CST, CSFA, FAST
Surgical Services Program Coordinator

Surgical Services Program Advisor 
for those with last names A-M

Visit my faculty page

Brittany Page, AS, CST, CSFA
Assistant Coordinator
850-769-1551, ext. 5881

Surgical Services Program Advisor 
for those with last names N-Z

Visit my faculty page

George Sasser, CST
Clinical Manager
850.769.1551, ext. 3324
Rebecca Acton
Senior Administrative Assistant


Laura Justice
Chair, Health Sciences