- A unique Surgical First Assistant course (Part 1) which combines online learning with supervised clinical practice, to enable you to successfully undertake the role of a Surgical First Assistant (SFA) within the NHS or independent healthcare sector
- Underpinning knowledge developed through online learning allowing flexible study around own commitments
- Supported by academics who have a wealth of skills, expertise and professional credibility related to the Surgical First Assistant role
- Clinical skills and competencies relevant to the role of the Surgical First Assistant developed through work-based learning at place of employment
This online Surgical First Assistant Certificate of Credit course is for registered practitioners (Operating Department Practitioners (ODP) or Nurses (RN)) working in a UK-based perioperative setting. This course will provide you with the necessary skills and underpinning knowledge to develop and practice enhanced surgical skills within the role of a Surgical First Assistant in line with latest professional guidance and recommendations (PCC 2018).
Competence of the required clinical skills to perform the Surgical First Assistant role, will be achieved through work-based learning with supervision by an appropriately qualified healthcare professional or clinician. A clinical practice portfolio will be required to document learning experiences and competence in addition to evidencing 100 hours of supervised practice performing the skills associated with the Surgical First Assistant role.
- Legal, Professional and Ethical issues of the SFA role
- Role boundaries, communication and working as part of the surgical team
- Infection control, asepsis and wound care, including principles of microbiology
- Principles of pathology, including disease classification and tissue growth disorders
- Handling of tissue specimens
- Preparation and positioning the surgical patient
- Handling of instruments, tissues and organ manipulation including retraction of superficial and deep tissue following surgical placement and under direct supervision
- Surgical haemostasis and suction
- Male and female catheterisation
- Minimal access surgery skills including camera and instrument manipulation
Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.
This 10-week course is completed entirely through online learning alongside your supervised clinical practice.
Pace of study
We recommend about 20 hours of study per week to complete this 20-credit module over a 10-week trimester.
Your competence to perform the role of the Surgical First Assistant will be assessed through:
- Submission of a 3000-word written piece of coursework
- Submission of a clinical portfolio demonstrating practical competence at performing the enhanced surgical skills required for the role of Surgical First Assistant, in line with current professional guidance
You must be supervised in clinical practice and have protected / dedicated time to perform the role of the Surgical First Assistant as part of the surgical team under the supervision of an allocated assessor/ supervisor (determined by your Employer).
As part of the clinical portfolio, you will be required to evidence a log of having undertaken 100 hours performing the role of the Surgical First Assistant under direct supervision, to demonstrate competence of the required skills.
You will need to be allocated an appropriate clinical supervisor, a consultant surgeon, to provide your clinical supervision whilst you undertake Surgical First Assistant duties. You will also be supported by assessors (mentors) who are registered professionals, competent in the skill or the aspect of competency being assessed. The Assessor / Mentor may be a Surgical Care Practitioner, experienced SFA practitioner or theatre educator.
You will also be allocated an academic assessor to support you throughout your module and hold regular tripartite review meetings, with yourself and your employer, to determine progression and completion of competencies being undertaken in the workplace. Note: confirmation of competence is completed by your allocated supervisor/ assessor (mentor) in the workplace.
Student support and guidance
Whilst we encourage our students to become independent, life-long learners, we also recognise that offering the right support and guidance will help you to achieve your goals. There is a wealth of support available to you at the University, from your dedicated Personal Tutor and Online Learner Advisor, through to our:
All these services, and more, are available to you as an online student at the University of Derby.
You must be able to meet the following criteria to apply for this short course:
- you must be a registered practitioner with current and unrestricted registration with a relevant professional regulatory body (e.g. HCPC or NMC)
- Be employed in a UK-based perioperative environment for the duration of the course
- Have appropriate experience in performing the scrub role at a competent level within the perioperative environment
- You will hold a degree or Diploma in Higher Education (or equivalent) relevant to your professional qualification
- Evidence of recent study (within the last three years) or ability to study at a degree level. If you are unable to supply evidence to support this, then you will be asked to complete a reflective piece of work related to your experience working in the perioperative environment and this will form part of your application
- Hold a current DBS
- Managers Approval Form completed by your theatre manager/ line manager confirming their support and your suitability to undertake these extended duties and be able to meet the learning outcomes for this course
Your manager will need to confirm that:
- Local policy is in place which support the role of the Surgical First Assistant and a risk assessment for this extended role is completed. You are further covered by the organisation’s indemnity insurance to undertake these extended duties of a Surgical First Assistant
- You will be provided with dedicated learning opportunities to undertake 100 hours performing the role of the Surgical First Assistant
- You will be allocated an appropriate clinical supervisor who will be a consultant surgeon or a Surgical Care Practitioner who will provide clinical supervision whilst undertaking Surgical First Assistant duties. They will further allocate additional assessors (mentors) to support your training who will be a registered professional who is competent in the skill, or the aspect of competency being assessed who may be a Surgical Care Practitioner, experienced SFA practitioner or theatre educator
- Have access to learning opportunities and a variety of surgical specialities which will include access to laparoscopic surgery
Prior to commencing this course, it is recommended that you have completed, or have arranged to complete, an in-house catheterisation course to ensure local policy is followed whilst completing these associated duties as part of the Surgical First Assistant role.
Please note: Confirmation of named Supervisor and additional assigned assessors (including their support) will be required at the start of module study, by the module leader.
English language qualifications
If English is not your first language, an IELTS of 7.0 (or equivalent) in all areas is required.
Find out more about our English language requirements
‡2023/24 for new entrants
Starting between September 2023 and August 2024.
| ||Per 20 credits||Modules||Cost|
||1 x 20 credits
About your fees
Prices are correct for the year of entry shown. These are subject to annual increase in subsequent academic years.
How to apply
Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.
Students should apply directly to the University.
For support with completing your application, view our guide to the application process.
Documents to support your application
In order for your application to be assessed, you will need to provide the following documents when you apply:
- Official photo identification such as a passport or driving licence
- Professional Body Registration Number
- Copies of certificates and transcripts or a letter of testimony for previous qualifications (Diploma or degree level)*
- Current CV / Employment history
- Evidence of your current DBS
- Completed Managers Approval Form
*Documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. Each translation must contain:
- Confirmation from the translator that it is an accurate translation of the original document
- The date of the translation
- The full name and signature of the translator, or an authorised official of the company
- The translator’s contact details
A list of approved translators can be found on the UK Government website
Please note: failure to submit any documentation when requested, may result in your application being withdrawn.