A registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) works as a surgical nurse in an expanded role. RNFAs are involved in patient management before, during and after surgery, and they assist during an operation at the direction of the surgeon. Aspiring RNFAs need additional education and experience beyond the registered nurse designation, but the work pays off with higher salaries.
To become an RNFA, a registered nurse must acquire diversified clinical experience in perioperative nursing and certification in this specialty, according to the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses. She also must complete an RNFA educational program equivalent to one academic year of formal study.
Broad Category Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary figures for all registered nurses combined rather than for particular specializations. The average salary for all registered nurses as of May 2010 was $32.56 per hour, or $67,720 per year. The median wage, or the number in the exact middle of all the registered nurse salary figures, was $64,690 per year. The middle 50 percent were making $25.47 to $37.99 per hour, or $52,980 to $79,020 per year. The top ten percent of registered nurses had salaries at or above $45.74 per hour, or $95,130 per year.
RNFA Salary Range
The median salary for a registered nurse working as a surgical first assistant was $79,745 per year as of May 2011, reports Salary.com. That translates to about $38.30 per hour. The middle 50 percent of RNFAs were earning $72,125 to $86,490 per year. The top ten percent had salaries higher than $92,630 per year, and only the bottom ten percent were making less than $65,190 per year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists geographical locations that are particularly high-paying for registered nurses in general, and Salary.com confirms this for RNFAs as well. Some examples include the eastern cities of Providence, Rhode Island, where the average annual salary for RNFAs as of May 2011 was $83,812; Baltimore, Maryland at $84,291; Boston, Massachusetts at $89,075; and New York City at $94,657. In the western United States, high-paying areas for RNFAs included Honolulu, Hawaii, with an average salary of $88,118; Anchorage, Alaska, at $90,989; and San Jose, California, at $95,694. The top 25 percent of RNFAs in San Jose were earning more than $103,000 per year and the top ten percent more than $111,000.