Surgical First Assisting - College Credit Certificate Option


Surgical Services Gulf Coast State College patchWant to WORK IN AN exciting fast paced OPERATING ROOM?

Would you like to work in a unique environment?

hands on practice surgery

As a surgical first assistant, you will be in a challenging, fast-paced environment that can change human lives. An emergency can occur at anytime and no two human beings are alike. Everyday is spent exploring the human body, becoming familiar with surgical techniques, procedures and treatments. There is always something new to learn as 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 progress, you can opt to specialize in a particular field such as General Surgery, Trauma, Open Heart, Orthopedics, Gynecology/Obstetrics, Robotic and/or Neurosurgery. 


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 preoperatively and postoperatively, seeing patients in the office, and assisting during the surgical procedure.

Assisting techniques include the provision of retraction, tissue manipulation, hemostasis, providing assistance with devices, instrumentation, approximation of tissue and suturing wounds.

Open your own business assisting surgeons in surgery.


  • Hospitals or ambulatory care centers
  • 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.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed this program and other important information, please visit Gainful Employment Statistics or Page 3 of our Application/Information Packet.

Although the average starting salary for surgical assistants is $55,000, the average annual salary is $75,000 and a surgical assistant may earn as much as $200,000, according to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs.  Apply to the Surgical First Assistant program and follow the checklist.

Apply to GCSC


Who is eligible for the Surgical First Assistant, C.C.C. program?

This program is flexible and offers options to fit your needs:Students standing in front of Health Science building

  1. There are two program entry options:
    1. If you have no Experience, you enter the on-site 2 year dual program to become certified in both Surgical Technology and Surgical First Assisting. Classes begin with prerequisite Anatomy and Physiology I with lab (4 credits) and at least 3 General Education classes in January (Spring) or May (Summer) every year. Note: The ST segment only offers the AS degree in Surgical Services - Major Code HS1-AS. At the end of the ST segment, you must have all your AS requirements except STS2366C. If you elect to complete the Associate degree in Science for the SFA program, then you will need that additional Course. Application Packet.
    2. If you are already a CST, you can enter the online program as a 2nd Year sophomore (CST to CSFA Program). Classes begin each term  (Open Entry/Open Exit Classes). You must transfer in or complete 8 college credits of Anatomy and Physiology with Labs (I and II). Application Packet for This Option.
      1. You can do everything in your home town except for the on-site Lab Week (4 days) to learn the techniques necessary to begin clinical rotations. Those with significant who are already a CSFA experience may be approved for alternate documentation of skills mastery. 
      2. External college credit is awarded to those  with current certification as a surgical technologist (CST or ST-C) or have documented military training as a surgical technologist (operating room technician) which can include up to a maximum of 45 college credits.
      3. There is an on site clinical option; come here to complete your cases if you cannot arrange a clinical site in your home town.
      4. We work with you to develop an individualized plan that meets your needs.
  2. Program offers two exit points: You can choose the one that meets your needs upon entry into the program. This means you can attain your additional AS degree requirements either before, with or after  attainment of the College credit certificate.  
    • College credit certificate option: 59 College Credits which does not require the additional General Education Classes.
    • Associate’s degree track option: 74 College Credits


  • Overall GCSC pass rate for the surgical technology certification exam (CST) for 2019 was 100% for those entering 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 annual report 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.

Class looking at a book in locker room

If you would like further Information, go to:

Are you Ready to Make the Commitment?

 Image of student in surgery

How do I apply to the Surgical First Assistant, C.C.C. program?

Prior to applying to the program, you'll need to complete the general admission application to Gulf Coast State College.  Visit the Gulf Coast admissions page to learn more about the application process.

To apply for the program, you can pick up a packet  from the Health Sciences Division Building 2nd Floor containing a current listing of admission and course requirements, or print out a Surgical First Assisting application from the appropriate Link: Non-Experienced Applicant or Experienced CST/ST-C Applicant.

Consult the Gulf Coast State College Catalog for specific program and course information.

How do I register for my classes?

Check out the class registration dates and plan your schedule today.

How do I apply for financial aid and scholarships?

There are many options available to help you pay for college. Find out more about scholarships and financial aid at Gulf Coast State College.


2022-2023 Catalog Requirements

Prerequisite Courses: All must be completed with a “C” or better.
•+*BSC2085, Anatomy and Physiology I 3
+*BSC2085L, Anatomy and Physiology I Lab 1
+*BSC2086, Anatomy and Physiology II 3
+*BSC2086L, Anatomy and Physiology II Lab 1
#*HSC1000, Orientation to Perioperative Services 3
#*HSC1000L, Orientation to Periop Services Lab 1
#*HSC1531, Medical Terminology 2
#*Microbiology for Perioperative Services 3
Major Courses
+#*STS1310, Surgical Tech & Procedures 5
+#*STS1310L, Surgical Tech & Proc Lab/Clinical 2
#*STS1340C, Pharmacology and Anesthesia 3
+#*STS1940C, Introduction to Surgery Clinical 2
+#*STS2323, Surgical Procedures I 4
+#*STS2323L, Surgical Procedures I Lab 1
+#*STS2324, Surgical Procedures II 3
+#*STS2324L, Surgical Procedures Simulation Lab II 1
#+*STS2330C, Principles of Surgical Assisting 2
+#*STS2335, Advanced Integrated Surgical Sciences 2
+#*STS2336, Advanced Surgical Procedures for the Surgical Assistant 2
#*STS2361, The Art of Teamwork in Surgery 1
#*STS2365, Professional Skills for the OR Team 1
+#*STS2370, Surgical Assisting Clinical 2
+#*STS2936, Surgical Certification Symposium 1
+#*STS2944C, Surgical Technologist Clinical I 3
+#*STS2945C, Surgical Technologist Clinical II 3
#*STS2953, Surgical Technologist Portfolio I 1
#*STS2954, Surgical Technologist Portfolio II 1
Choose one: #*STS2366C, Surgical Assistant Professional Skills or #*STS2367, Management in Healthcare 2




• General Education Core.

+ Prerequisites and/or corequisites required. See course descriptions.

# Applies to A.S. degree and certificate programs.

= Career Certificate course.

* Minimum grade of "C" required.


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

Department Chair

Laura Justice
Chair, Health Sciences