Our 71-credit-hour program includes 36 credits of training in our 10-month didactic phase and 35 credits of clinical practice in the second year.

Didactic Phase

SA Program Faculty Member Karen Powell

Our immersive experience allows for direct observation and active participation with the surgical team to develop the critical clinical skills surgical assistants need. Students are exposed to surgical services, including perioperative, intraoperative and postoperative patient care, and ancillary surgical services, such as central sterile services and pathology.

This training complements the hands-on instruction students receive in the surgical environment. Our students enter the clinical phase of the program with practical experience in the operating room and a strong foundation of surgical knowledge.

Clinical Phase

SA Student in OR

In contrast to other accredited programs, our program manages and assigns students' clinical placements. At the end of the clinical phase, students:

  • Have completed eight clinical rotations.
  • Have performed the duties of and served in the role of the surgical assistant in at least 240 cases.
  • Have the equivalent competencies expected of a junior surgical resident.
  • Are eligible to sit for a national certification exam.

Course sequence

Course # Semester One (August-December) Credit Hours
MSA-502 Medical Terminology 2
MSA-503 Surgical Microbiology with lab 3
MSA-504 Advanced Topics of Surgical Assisting I 1
MSA-506 Operative Practices 2
MSA-510 Advanced Surgical Pharmacology 2
MSA-515 Surgical Physiology 4
MSA-517 Principles of Surgical Assisting I 2
MSA-518 Principles of Surgical Assisting II Lab 2
  Total 18
Semester Two (January - May)
MSA-505 Advanced Topics of Surgical Assisting II 1
MSA-507 Surgical Rounds 3
MSA-508 Clinical Anatomy for Health Professions 5
MSA-513 Minimally Invasive Surgery and Simulation Skills Lab 4
MSA-519 Principles of Surgical Assisting II Lecture 2
MSA-520 Principles of Surgical Assisting II Lab 2
MSA-521 Clinical Reasoning for SA  1
  Total 18
  Clinical Year (May - May)  
MSAR-700#'s Eight 6-week Surgical Rotations
(3 credit hours each)
MSA-600 Trauma 2
MSA-601 Business of Surgical Assisting Services 3
MSA-602 Medical Ethics of Surgical Assisting 2
MSA-603 Capstone Project 3
MSA-604 Leadership in Healthcare 1
  Total 35



Course Descriptions

Medical Terminology - MSA-502

2 Credit Hours

The medical terminology class is an intense, three-week course taught at the beginning of the surgical assisting student's first year. The course employs a body systems-oriented, word-analysis approach to learning medical terminology. The goal of the class is to prepare students for the terminology they might encounter in their subsequent coursework, in their clinical rotations and ultimately in their roles as healthcare professionals.

Surgical Microbiology with lab - MSA-503

3 Credit Hours

Surgical Microbiology reviews the infectious processes and organisms, immune responses, risks to operating-room patients and personnel and universal precautions.

Advanced Topics of Surgical Assisting (I & II) - MSA-504/505

1 & 1 Credit Hours

Advanced Topics of Surgical Assisting is a monthly journal club that investigates topics addressed in the core curriculum classes as well as current issues impacting the surgical assisting profession. Course readings will be provided by program faculty and surgical assistant professional organizations.

Operative Practices - MSA-506

2 Credit Hours

Lecture series is a seminar course that explores the details of topics such as attitude and etiquette in the OR, casting and splinting, stress management, ethics, surgical technique, OR conduct and patient interaction, back-table setup and the SA, trauma, sterile technique, gowning and gloving review. The seminars are conducted by program alumni and other medical professionals.

Surgical Physiology - MSA-515

4 Credit Hours

Surgical Physiology is a course provided by the biophysiology and applied surgical pathology for the advancement of knowledge application in the surgical environment designed for Surgical Assistant students. Topics including cell injury, inflammation and wound healing are covered.

Principles of Surgical Assisting (1 & 2) - MSA-517-520

2 & 2 Credit Hours

Principles of Surgical Assisting is a two-part course that teaches fundamental skills: Placement of monitoring devices, review of bladder catheterization, surgical positioning, application of tourniquets, prepping and draping, operative instrumentation, visualization techniques, hemostasis, suturing and knot tying techniques, dressings and drainage systems, post-operative pain control methods and the use of special equipment.

Surgical Rounds - MSA-507

3 Credit Hours

Surgical Rounds is a hands-on clinical training experience lead by surgical residents to complement the student’s didactic experience through active participation as part of a surgical team to develop the critical clinical skills needed for a surgical assistant.

Clinical Anatomy for Health Professions - MSA-508

5 Credit Hours

Gross Anatomy is a regional study of anatomy related to surgical procedures with cadaver lab. It also includes review of physiology relevant to survey and an introduction to basic embryology, histology and pathology.

Advanced Surgical Pharmacology - MSA-510

2 Credit Hours

Advanced Pharmacology is a biophysical science based course which examines drugs used in surgery and emergency drugs, reviewing anaphylactic and toxicity reactions. The course also addresses anesthesia methods and agents and their methods of administration, describing how the surgical procedure may be affected by the agents used.

Minimally Invasive Surgery and Simulation Skills Lab - MSA-513

4 Credit Hours

This course is designed to give the surgical assistant student a broad look into minimally invasive surgery while introducing the techniques involved. Numerous subspecialties, how minimally invasive techniques are utilized, and the history of these techniques will be discussed. Students will engage in hands-on learning to help facilitate the learning curve once they are in their clinical year.

Clinical Reasoning for SA - MSA-521

1 Credit Hours

This course is designed to provide clinical reasoning skills set which are fundamental tools of health care practitioners, via case-based presentation of disease pathophysiological processes, assessment of the clinical patient, diagnostic tools, and interventions via a body system approach.

Surgical Clinical Rotations - MSAR-700#'s

24 Credit Hours

Eight six-week surgical clinical rotations (3 credits each): 1,920 hours of clinical experience with up to 25% of training in surgical specialty such as orthopedics, plastics, cardiac, vascular and neurological.

Trauma Surgery Rotation - MSA-600

2 Credit Hours

The Trauma Surgery Rotation is a designed to expose surgical assistant students to the specialty dedicated to the care of the individual who has been injured, whatever the mechanism. Students will complete two 25-hour rotations with teams at specific clinical training sites.

Business of Surgical Assisting Services - MSA-601

3 Credit Hours

This course presents an in-depth overview of the business of surgical assisting. The student is exposed to all aspects of the surgical assisting business to help them make informed career decisions.

Medical Ethics of Surgical Assisting - MSA-602

2 Credit Hours

This course explores a variety of ethical and legal issues facing healthcare professionals and the Surgical Assisting profession.

Capstone Project - MSA-603

3 Credit Hours

This is an applied science and practice application course. Students develop an educational resource product in their area of surgical specialty concentration for contribution to the program’s resource library.