Registered Nurse - First Assistant - 921

Ontario College Graduate Certificate
Nursing Students

Enhance your nursing skills!

Learn the advanced technical requirements to function effectively as a RN First Assistant throughout a patient’s surgical experience.

Designed for experienced perioperative RN nurses, this program is comprised of part-time online learning, a full-time independent learning component and a clinical internship.

RNFA’s can perform duties during the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care stages.

You do not need to apply to begin this program, simply ensure you meet the admission requirements (listed on the Admission & Registration tab) and then you may register for any available courses.

If you have any questions about this program, please do not hesitate to reach out to us!

NOTE: The laboratory practice component will be held in Hamilton. Visit the Additional Information tab for more details.

Program Contact
Continuing Education Health and Nursing

In order to be eligible for this program, you must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • NOTE: Effective 2020 a degree is required for admission
  • Current RN/PN license to practice with the College of Nurses in the province in which you intend to complete the final internship
  • Minimum of 5 years current perioperative nursing experience (full-time or equivalent)
  • Canadian Nurses Association National Certification CPN(C) or CNOR equivalent
  • Current BLS (Basic Life Support) Certification
  • Current ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) Certification
  • Operating Room Nurses Association of Canada membership
  • Letter of support from your Clinical Manager
  • Letter of intent to mentor from the Surgeon(s).

There is no application process for this program. You can begin by registering for the first course – NRSG10039, RNFA Theory 1. After registration, you must send an email to cehealth [at] and provide documented proof that you meet all of the admission requirements.


The program of studies displayed below applies to students starting the program in the 2019/20 academic year. Students who began in other academic years may require different courses to be eligible to graduate. If you have questions regarding a strategy for completion contact Continuing Education - Health and Nursing 

Click on the Course number or Course title for more information on each course.

Visit the Mohawk College Bookstore Textbook Search (opens in new window) for information on textbooks.

A selection of courses are available each term. Courses that are currently not available (N/A) for registration may be offered in the future – check back frequently.

Mandatory Courses

Register Course number Course title Course Hours
Course description: This foundational course introduces the student to the RNFA role and explores the theoretical concepts to prepare the student for further study in the RNFA Program by exploring the evolution of the role in Canada and the US. The role diversity of the Registered Nurse First Assistant is explored in its interdependent relationship as the nurse works both with the physician and nurses and for the benefit of the patient. The nursing diagnosis is used as the defining guide in planning and implementing patient care. The course delivery is part time, independent studies through online learning activities with computer-based modules.
Credits: 3
Course description: Provides intraoperative knowledge and technique necessary to assuming responsibilities of the RN First Assistant. It includes facilitated part time independent studies through online learning activities with computer-based modules. This course builds upon the functions of the perioperative nurse, focusing on advanced surgical anatomy, procedures and techniques. Theory 2 will prepare the RNFA to assist in intraoperative surgical procedures, such as handling, cutting and removing tissue, using retractors and other surgical instruments, suturing and tying knots, and controlling bleeding. The curriculum explores pre - and postoperative patient care management, which can help the RNFA become proficient in postoperative care and discharge planning. The coursework will teach the RNFA to assess the needs of their patients and surgical team.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: NRSG10039
Course description: Upon successful completion of NRSG 10041, students return home and may begin the RNFA Surgeon Mentor Internship at their facility of employment with permission. This internship should be completed in conjunction with NRSG 10046. This course consists of 175 surgical assisting hours with a chosen surgeon preceptor. During this time students perform in the intraoperative role of the RNFA and document their learning experiences. Evaluation is based on completion of assignments, clinical case logs, and clinical experiences. Learning assignments during this semester are designed to enhance learning experiences and reinforce knowledge. Students can work at their own pace and complete the requirements within the semester.
Credits: 4
Prerequisites: NRSG10041 and HLTH10223
Course description: This course includes 50 hours of independent RNFA clinical time for perioperative nurses in the first assistant role. Students will take an active part in determining objectives, identifying learning resources, and evaluating attainment of goals. Clinical hours will focus on RNFA activities in preoperative and postoperative patient care, utilizing the student’s learning contract (developed in Theory 2). Examples include time with an infection control nurse, pathologist, radiologist, and postoperative rounds with the surgeon mentor as well as office visits. Learning assignments during this semester are designed to enhance learning experiences and reinforce knowledge. On-line support and communication with peers and faculty is available during this timeframe. Students can work at their own pace and complete requirements within the semester.
Credits: 1
Prerequisites: NRSG10041 and HLTH10223
Course description: This course offers the student a blended learning experience, which includes online interactive learning activities and four days of face-to-face full time skills labs and lectures. This 60-hour course is led by RNFAs, physicians, and perioperative nursing faculty. Expanded skills are the focus as the nurse is prepared to assume the RNFA intraoperative responsibilities for assisting during surgery.
Credits: 4
Prerequisites: NRSG10040 and HLTH10223
  Fall Winter Spring
RNFA Theory 1    X    
RNFA Theory 2          X  
RNFA Laboratory Practice          X
RNFA Independent Internship          X
RNFA Surgeon Mentored Internship          X
Getting Started

Courses in this program are delivered through eLearn, Mohawk's Learning Management System.  Students will not have access to their courses until the scheduled start date.

Please use the link below for more information on how to access your eLearn course, as well as our eLearn guide.

How to access your eLearn course

Getting Started - eLearn

Find your textbook here: Textbook Search

Preclinical / Clinical Information

Students preparing for Clinical Placement should visit our Preclinical / Clinical webpage for details and information on the process.

The didactic component / laboratory practice will be held in Hamilton (60 hours total). Accommodations are the responsibility of the student.

The Surgeon Mentored Internship will require a surgeon sponsor for the hospital of your choice. The clinical time will include intraoperative time with the surgeon.

The Independent Internship will include time where you will attend clinics, pathology, radiology, infection control and patient hospital visits.