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Surgical First Assistant Program (Minnesota)

Mayo Clinic surgical first assistant students getting trained

Surgical first assistant training at Mayo Clinic

The 12-month Surgical First Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota offers the best accredited certificate training program in the Midwest. You will gain an advanced understanding of human anatomy, while refining your surgical skills. This program prepares you with the knowledge and skills needed to become an effective member of a surgical team with an extensive knowledge of surgical procedures, all while learning the appropriate professional standards of the role.

Surgical first assistants, or first assists, act as a second pair of hands for surgeons during surgery. They work in the operating room, assisting the surgeon with equipment, retracting incisions, stopping bleeding, closing the incision, among other hands-on tasks during surgery.

Choosing Mayo Clinic

Program highlights:

  • A curriculum that includes five months of classroom and lab education and seven months of clinical experience, which allows you to start your career more quickly.
  • Training experiences at one of the largest surgical suites with one of the most advanced medical centers in the nation.
  • A focus on hands-on and tactical training where you’ll work on hundreds of cases that far exceeds the accreditation board’s minimum hours of clinical experience.

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive a certificate of completion from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. The program requires a grade of 70 percent or greater to pass a course. All courses and clinical work must be completed consecutively; deviation from scheduled coursework is not permitted.

Matthew Shedd, C.S.A.

Student stories

You will be exposed to some of the most brilliant medical minds and practitioners the world has to offer. Not only will you learn from them, you will have the opportunity to work alongside them. These experiences are invaluable as they pertain to becoming a well-rounded surgical assistant. Furthermore, being at Mayo allows you access to the most cutting-edge technology modern medicine has to offer. You will learn how to operate and manage these resources from experienced professionals.

Matthew Shedd, C.S.A.
2019 graduate who now works as a certified surgical assistant at Mayo Clinic

How to apply

We care about more than grades and test scores

Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, Minnesota.
Campus and community

Rochester, MN

A day in the life

Surgical First Assistant

A day in the life

Explore what a surgical first assistant does

A surgical first assistant works closely with surgeons in the operating room during a surgical procedure. Surgical assistants, or first assists as they are known to be called, anticipate the needs of the surgical team and during an operation, assist the surgeon with tasks such as preparing equipment, retracting incisions, stopping bleeding, and closing the incision.

Accreditation information

The Surgical First Assistant Program is an accredited training program.


Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
25400 US Highway 19 North
Suite 158
Clearwater, FL 33763
Phone: 727-210-2350

See accreditation information for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.