Registered Nurse - First Assistant - 921

Ontario College Graduate Certificate
Nursing students and instructor looking at skeletal model

This program is currently under review. At this time, we are not accepting new students. Email cehealth [at] for more information.

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.

NOTE: The laboratory practice component will be held in Hamilton. Visit the Field Placement/Clinical tab for more information.

Contact Continuing Education

Continuing Education Health and Nursing

We are no longer accepting students into this program.

The program of studies displayed below applies to students starting the program in the current 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 Textbooks page for information on ordering your course materials.

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.

NOTE: YOU MUST register for HLTH10223 to complete required health clearances prior to registration in CLIN10042, CLIN10046 and NRSG10041.

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
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
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

The list of scheduled course offerings for this program is below. Please note that all offerings are subject to change. Not every course is offered every semester, so please consider this schedule when planning your academic path.

Course Code Course Name Fall
(Sep to Dec)
(Jan to Apr)
(May to Aug)
NRSG10039 RNFA Theory 1




NRSG10040 RNFA Theory 2  



NRSG10041 RNFA Laboratory Practice




CLIN10046 RNFA Independent Internship  



CLIN10042 RNFA Surgeon Mentored Internship  



Getting Started

Visit CE Get Started, your go-to online resource for getting started. You’ll find information on online tools and the wide range of student services available to you to support your success as a Mohawk College student and to help you achieve your future goals!

Login to MyMohawk
MyMohawk is the college portal used to access your student account information, email, grades and more. Your username and password can be found on the Continuing Education Acknowledgement of Registration & Student Account form that was sent to you after you registered for your course. Visit the Getting Started - MyMohawk Guide for step-by-step instructions.

Access Mohawk Email
On the MyMohawk Home screen you will see a link to Mohawk email. Visit the Getting Started – Mohawk Email Guide to learn how to set up your account on your devices.

Access MyCanvas
On the MyMohawk Home screen you will see a link to MyCanvas, Mohawk College’s Learning Management System. Visit the Getting Started - MyCanvas Guide for step-by-step instructions. Please note your course will not appear in MyCanvas until the scheduled start date.

Find your Textbook
Use the Mohawk College Textbook Search to find your course materials.

Explore Contacts and Services 

Online learning courses provide you with the opportunity to learn online, anywhere, at your convenience!  You can study at home or at work - wherever you like, whenever you like, within a predetermined time frame.

Courses are delivered over a set time period and are led by instructors. Most courses do not require that you be online at a certain time of day or night, but that you are active in the course during the schedule. There are scheduled start and end dates and you cannot start courses late nor finish early.

Visit the MyCanvas Course page for registration information and a step-by-step guide to get started. Please note your course will not appear in MyCanvas until the scheduled start date.

Preclinical / Clinical Information

Students preparing for clinical placement should visit our Preclinical / Clinical webpage and our Clinical FAQ 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. 

Academic Opportunities


Mohawk Pathways 

Mohawk offers a diverse range of programs to further your studies**: Students that graduate from any of the following Degree programs are eligible to enroll into the Registered Nurse - First Assistant program:

View the pathways map PDF. This Pathways map shows how the identified program can lead to future program choices within Mohawk.