course page main image

Developing Surgical First Assistance - 20 credits - Module

Currently viewing course to start in 2022/23 Entry.

The role of the Surgical First Assistant is now widely accepted in perioperative practice within the NHS and Independent Healthcare Sector....

  • Level CPD
  • Study mode Short Course
  • Location City South
  • School School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences


The role of the Surgical First Assistant is now widely accepted in perioperative practice within the NHS and Independent Healthcare Sector. As a registered practitioner (RN or ODP), the Surgical First Assistant provides continuous competent and dedicated skilled assistance under the direct supervision of the operating surgeon throughout the procedure whilst not performing any form of surgical intervention (PCC 2018)

This course can be studied at level 6 or level 7. 

This course is not open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

You will build upon your prior knowledge, skills and experience as a scrub practitioner to develop in the role of the surgical first assistant and work safely and effectively as an interprofessional member of the surgical team. You will mature as a critical thinking practitioner as you provide competent and skilled surgical assistance to the operating surgeon under supervision.  

Even as a registered nurse with 18 years’ experience I have learnt a lot of new skills from undertaking this invaluable course. The module team have been brilliant and they answer emails and phone calls promptly, so I have felt completely supported whilst doing this course.

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: Module

Starting: May 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Short Course
  • 6 months
  • £756 per 20-credit module

Award: Module

Starting: Feb 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Short Course
  • 6 months
  • TBC

International students

Sorry, this course is not available to International students.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

How to apply

Complete the online application form via the link above, including the name of the module you are enrolling onto. 

Please also fill in the Manager's Approval Form and attach this to the application form. 

Entry requirements

  • You will be a registered perioperative practitioner with 18 months post-registration experience
  • You will be currently working within the perioperative environment and preferably have experience in scrub practice.
  • You will continue to work in the perioperative environment for the duration of the module.
  • You will have a mentor who is a consultant surgeon or Surgical Care Practitioner
  • Your department will have undertaken a risk assessment for this role

Course in Depth

Level 6

Level 7

Course Summary

  • This module is for Registered Nurses or Operating Department Practitioners who have been qualified for a minimum of 12 months and are registered with either the HCPC or NMC.
  • You will develop specialist knowledge and skills in relation to providing surgical first assistance within the surgical team.


Assessment will vary depending upon the level studied. Level 6 requires you to write a 2,500 word case study. Level 7 requires you to perform a ten minute viva voce. Within both levels you will need to complete competencies as well as 100 hours in practice. The module learning outcomes for each level are:

Level 6 
  • Critically examine the professional, legal and ethical issues in relation to the role of the Surgical First Assistant drawing upon current and past legislation, standards and codes of professional practice
  • Integrate the knowledge and skills of advancing surgical practice to the assessment, planning, management and evaluation of patient care as a member of the wider surgical team
  • Demonstrate competence when performing in the role of the Surgical First Assistant
Level 7 
  • Display a critical awareness and reasoning of current perioperative evidence to promote patient safety and inform surgical first assistant practice based upon national and international guidance and local protocol
  • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding and application of the complex physical, psychological and social needs of patients in the acute surgical phase to plan, deliver and evaluate care as a member of the wider surgical team
  • Present a cohesive argument to support the Surgical First Assistant role in the context of complex perioperative practice
  • Demonstrate competence in the Surgical First Assistant role through practical assessment

Facilities & Staff


Our Facilities

Our School of Nursing and Midwifery is based at our City South campus in leafy Edgbaston.

We’ve spent £41million expanding our facilities at City South. These facilities offer hands-on practical experience, replicating the spaces you will come across in professional practice.

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that you learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. Alongside physical spaces such as a mock operating theatre and wards, we also make use of online and virtual technology, such as our virtual ward and virtual case creator.

See more of our skills facilities at City South

Centre for Skills and Simulation

The Centre for Skills and Simulation offers a range of different spaces which replicate situations that you will encounter in practice. These include hospital wards, an operating theatre and a home environment room.

Our mock wards enable you to get a feel of what a ward is really like before you head out for your first placement. The hospital wards can be adapted from low care to high dependency care environment with the necessary monitoring equipment.

The home environment room is the perfect space for teaching communications skills and allows us to simulate a community setting for our students. It is particularly useful for mental health nurses, learning disability nurses and midwives.

Simulation Manikins

We have several Simulation men (SIM men) and simulation babies (SIM babies) which are anatomically correct manikins used for teaching specific techniques such as advanced adult and paediatric life support skills, acute and high dependency clinical skills, first aid and communication skills. The manikins contain software which replicates real symptoms, and can manipulate indicators such as blood pressure, pulse and heart rate for extra realism. SIM man can even ‘talk’ to the students as they are treating him, to add another dimension to learning.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building has two open-access IT Suites which offer PCs, printers, photocopiers and scanners. There is also an IT Helpdesk for quick and easy help with your computing or internet issues.

Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

In addition to desktop PCs, we also offer a laptop loan facility, allowing students to borrow a laptop for up to six hours while on campus.

Our staff

Julie Quick

ODP Apprenticeship Course Leader / Senior Lecturer Clinical Lead & Enterprise/Research

Julie has spent 25 years working within the perioperative environment. In her last NHS post she worked as a Surgical Care Practitioner in general surgery at Trust within the West Midlands. Julie is passionate about perioperative care and has a particular interest in surgery, research and advancing surgical roles.  

More about Julie



Module Leader

If you have any queries about this course please contact the Module Leader, Julie Quick on:

Professional Navigators

Our Professional Navigator, Nicola Clarke, is also on hand to offer guidance and will help you to choose which modules are best for you, taking into account your aims, professional or clinical experience, KSF requirements and your academic achievements.

Call Nicola on +44 (0)121 331 6162.