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NBSTSA Announces Certified Surgical First Assistant Eligibility Changes for 2017

Recognizing both the origins of our profession and the evolution of education programs in surgical assisting, the Board of Directors of The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting has announced a change in eligibility to sit for the Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) Examination. 

Effective January 3, 2017, any new applicant who wishes to sit for the Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) Examination must be a graduate of a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited program in surgical assisting. A current list of these programs is available at 

Through December 1, 2016, the current pathways to exam eligibility will remain open to new applicants, including: 

  • The case experience documentation pathway for current Certified Surgical Technologists (CSTs).
  • The non-accredited military graduate with case experience documentation pathway.
  • Eligibility for those who hold the CSA or SA-C credential with case experience documentation. 

Those who apply through December 1, 2016 for eligibility by one of the above pathways will have the usual two years to complete case logs once the application has been submitted and any required preauthorization or facility information is received by the NBSTSA. Details on these routes of eligibility are available by clicking here





Change to the CSA/SA-C Pathway for the CSFA Examination 

This pathway will no longer require an Associate’s Degree or higher. 

Changes to the CST with Currency Pathway for the CSFA Examination 

This pathway will no longer require no less than two years of current, fulltime operating room experience.  Candidates may apply for Pre-Authorization once they pass the CST Examination. 

The Director of Surgery for the facility must sign the Pre-Authorization Form.  Surgeons who are not in a Director role will no longer be accepted.

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Changes to CST and CSFA Eligibility Pathways

Effective January 1, 2014 candidates will see a number of changes to the CST and CSFA eligibility pathways.


As of January 1, 2014, the NBSTSA will be closing the following eligibility pathway to the CST examination:

"Candidate is currently certified as a Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Candidates must hold current certification as a TS-C (NCCT) and have an Associate’s Degree or higher. Candidates applying under this eligibility are required to provide evidence of current certification from the NCCT and provide official transcripts demonstrating completion of an Associate’s Degree or higher. Candidates are required to have evidence of 30 Continuing Education Credits earned within two years prior to the application date. CE Credits must meet the criteria as defined by the most current edition of the “AST Continuing Education Policies for the CST & CSFA.” Candidate is also required to provide two verification forms demonstrating operative case experience as defined by the most current edition of the AST Core Curriculum for Surgical Technology."


As of January 1, 2014 candidates looking to establish eligibility for the CSFA through the CST with currency pathway will need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be a current CST with no less than two years of current, fulltime operating room experience.
  2. CSFA candidates must be pre-authorized by the NBSTSA to begin their procedural experience for the CSFA examination. This pre-authorization must be signed by a surgeon or supervisor at each hospital facility the candidate intends to complete their procedural experience at.
  3. CSFA candidates utilizing this eligibility pathway will be required to complete 50 general surgical procedures, 50 designated specialty procedures and 50 distributed specialty procedures.
  4. The NBSTSA will designate appropriate SFA competencies (as defined by the most current edition of the Core Curriculum for Surgical Assisting) which must be verified as complete by the sponsoring facility.
  5. CSFA candidates at the conclusion of their authorization period (or when the required procedures are acquired) may apply for the CSFA examination.

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Student Scholarshp Information

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Scholarship Winners - 2010

Changes to Candidate Authorization to Test (ATT) Period

Beginning January 1, 2010 all candidates testing in NBSTSA examination programs will be subject to changes related to the Authorization to Test (ATT) period. 

CST Examination Program
Effective January 1, 2010 the CST examination authorization to test (ATT) period is three months. Candidates who are unsuccessful in passing may re-test after six weeks from the last examination date. Candidates may not test more than three times during any calendar year.

CSFA Examination Program
Effective January 1, 2010 the CSFA examination authorization to test (ATT) period is three months. Candidates who are unsuccessful in passing may re-test after three months from the last examination date. Candidates may not test more than three times during any calendar year.

All Candidates issued an ATT prior to January 1, 2010 will be subject to pre-January 1, 2010 ATT requirements.  

2010 Fee Changes

CFA Practice Examination


The newly revised CSFA Practice Examination is now available
from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting!

* Utilization of the CSFA Practice Examination does not guarantee
a successful outcome on the National CSFA Examination.

Please note:  Effective February 1, 2010 candidates must correctly answer
112 questions to pass the CSFA examination.

Click here to link to the CSFA Practice Examination now.

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NBSTSA Policy for Late Renewal


The NBSTSA believes that renewal for certification should be through professional development, as acquired through continuing education credits, rather than by entry-level examination. Professional development allows the practitioner to keep abreast of the rapidly changing technologies necessary for intraoperative practice, strengthening the quality of the credential and increasing patient safety through better overall preparedness.

It should be noted that if credits were not completed (meaning that the correct amount were not earned within the renewal cycle) then the policy does not apply, and the certification examination must be taken for renewal.

IMPORTANT: Individuals whose certification has lapsed will be issued a new certification number upon satisfying renewal requirements.

Penalty Fees

0 – 1 month past expiration:  $50 standard renewal fee + $0 penalty fee = $50.00
1 – 3 months past expiration: $50 standard renewal fee + $100 penalty fee = $150.00
3 – 6 months past expiration: $50 standard renewal fee + $200 penalty fee = $250.00
6 – 9 months past expiration: $50 standard renewal fee + $300 penalty fee = $350.00
9 – 12 months past expiration: $50 standard renewal fee + $400 penalty fee = $450.00
12 – 18 months past expiration: $50 standard renewal fee + $500 penalty fee = $550.00
18 – 24 months past expiration: $50 standard renewal fee + $600 penalty fee = $650.00
After 24 months, the applicant must re-take the certification examination and pay the fee for renewal by examination.

An important announcement from the NBSTSA

NBSTSA proudly announced this past May in its report to the House of Delegates for AST that it would change the name of the CSFA credential to more clearly reflect the role of the individual that bears this title.  Effective January 1, 2011 the CSFA title will be changed to CSFA-Certified Surgical First Assistant. 


Celebrate the New Year with the NBSTSA by volunteering ….NBSTSA Committee Appointments are wanted!

 The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) is seeking Certified Surgical Technologists and Certified Surgical First Assistants to serve on their Surgical Technology and Surgical First Assistant Examination Review Committees (CST-ERC and CSFA-ERC).

 NBSTSA Examination Review Committee members are responsible for reviewing, editing, referencing and categorizing examination questions in accordance with the Examination Content Outline as developed from the Job Task Analysis.

 Individuals interested in serving the NBSTSA must submit a Consent to Serve and resume for consideration by March 23, 2009.  Individuals appointed will be notified by May 1, 2009.  For more information contact the NBSTSA at 800-707-0057.    

AST Scholarship Opportunities2009 NBSTSA Scholarship Applications are now available!

The NBSTSA scholarship is available to any student currently enrolled in a NBSTSA recognized surgical technology or surgical assisting program. 

Scholarship applications will not be considered unless completely filled out, signed and accompanied by all appropriate supporting documentation.  Applications must be received by the NBSTSA March 31, 2009.  Scholarship recipients will receive notification from the NBSTSA by June 1, 2009. 

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NBSTSA Announcement for CST and CSFA candidates testing between August 1 and August 31, 2008.

Candidates testing for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) and Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) examination programs between August 1 and August 31, 2008 will be subject to a delayed score report status related to their examination results. Final  examination scoring for candidates testing in the CST and CSFA programs during this time period will be completed six weeks from the date of examination, at which time candidates will be notified of their official score status.

You, the NBSTSA, and AMP!

The NBSTSA, the credential organization for surgical technologists and surgical assistants, is proud to announce a new relationshipwith Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) for examination development and administrative services. 

Applied Measurement Professionals Inc. (AMP) provides certification organizations, governmental agencies, professional associations and private industry with innovative measurement, assessment and management solutions that focus on the appropriate application of technology and personal customer service. The AMP Assessment Center Network has provided computer-based testing to over one million candidates. AMP is dedicated to providing clients with “Technology That Works and People Who Care.” 

Starting January 1, 2008…You, the NBSTSA, and AMP. 

Recognizing competency through professional credentialing in surgical technology and surgical assisting.                                                           

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New Executive Director Appointed by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting

The Board of Directors of the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) has announced the selection of Ronald O Kruzel, CST, MA, as the new executive director.

Previously, Ron has served as the executive director of the Accreditation Review Committee for Education in Surgical Technology (ARC-ST), since June 2005. Prior to his position with ARC-ST, he was the surgical technology program director at Simi Valley Adult School and Career Institute, Simi Valley California, for 11 years.

His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Northridge. He was certified in 1978 as a CST.

In addition, he has been substantially involved in advancing the profession and has contributed his expertise in several different capacities: member of the LCC-ST CST Examination Review Committee for three years; active in the California State Assembly from 2001 through 2003, including serving as president; ARC-ST board member for two years and secretary-treasurer for one year. Since 2004, he has been a participant in the California Department of Education Professional Development and Leadership Project (CAL-PRO).

He will oversee the day-to-day operations and management of the employees of the NBSTSA.

The primary goals of the NBSTSA, a private, not-for-profit credentialing body, include promoting the highest level of professional certification through valid knowledge-based examinations and successfully marketing the nationally recognized credentials for surgical technologists and surgical assistants. The CST and CSFA credentials are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies through the National Organization for Competency Assurance. The NBSTSA is jointly sponsored and supported by AST and the American College of Surgeons. 


Our new name, The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), also acknowledges the credentialing of surgical assistants and serves to identify the organization as a nationally recognized credentialing agency for both surgical specialties. 

Our name has changed but our commitment to the professions of surgical technology and surgical assisting still remains strong.

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Changes to Eligibility

In April of 2006, the NBSTSA Board of Directors voted to remove the CSFA examination eligibility route that allowed submission of verified cases only, effective January 1, 2007. This change in CSFA eligibility has been nullified by recent vote of the Board until a sufficient number of CSFA education programs can form and become CAAHEP accredited.

Important Deadline Date Notices:

During the Fall Board meeting of the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), the application and Self-Study process submitted by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) was discussed.  It is my pleasure to inform you the NBSTSA voted to grant Provisional Status to ABHES, retroactive to May 1, 2006, and to continue through December 31, 2010. During the provisional status period, graduates from ST programs enjoying programmatic accreditation from ABHES, will be eligible to sit for the CST examination offered by the NBSTSA.

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AST and NBSTSA provide package discounts to members

At the Orlando National Conference, board members from The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), formerly the LCC-ST decided to provide deep discounts for instructors and individuals who want to purchase more than one product from the two organizations.

Discounts include AST membership, the national certification exam, the AST Study Guide and the NBSTSA self-assessment examination.

For instructors who wish to purchase ten or more packages – once again including membership, certification examination, study guide and the SAE – the discount goes even higher.

Go to AST website ( for more information on the discounts.

For more information, call AST at 1-800-637-7433.

Attention Program Directors: NBSTSA Board approves new examination policies for students

Over the next few months, NBSTSA plans to implement several new policies designed to create a smooth process for students and program directors.

The first change, scheduled to start Sept. 1, 2005, is that program directors and instructors will be able to register their students to take the examination as a group.

Instructors and program directors must send in all student applications at the same time. NBSTSA will process the applications and then send the Authorization to test letter to both the instructor and the student. Using the ATT letter, the instructor schedules the examination for the class at the same time.

Depending on the size of the testing center closest to the school, the students might have to test in groups or over the course of two days.

Rural schools that do not have a  Prometric testing site could schedule a proctored examination at their school site, with some special arrangements by Chauncey to ensure examination security.

Students to take the examination before graduation

Also beginning Sept. 1, students can apply for and attempt the CST examination 30 days before they graduate.

NBSTSA will not release results to the candidate or any other party until graduation is confirmed. If the association does not receive proof of graduation within 60 days of graduation, then the certification is invalid. To qualify for a future CST examination, the candidate will be required to submit a new application, new testing fee and proof of graduation.

Proof of graduation includes letters from the education program director, diplomas or an official transcript.  Proof of graduation from an education director must be notarized and on official school letterhead.

Once NBSTSA receives the proof of graduation, we will send out examination results, certificates and certification cards.

NBSTSA, AST and ARC-ST conduct historic summit meeting

In early spring, the boards of all three surgical technologist organizations met for the first time in two decades, putting together a new strategic plan and pledging to work together.

The three groups met in Colorado Springs, which was the headquarters for the NBSTSA. Over three days, they hammered out the top priorities for the surgical technologist profession:

  • Certification as a condition of employment
  • Creating stable, active State Assemblies
  • Creating an associate’s degree as the minimum educational level
  • Strengthen associations with other Operating Room personnel organizations.

The three groups also pledged to continue to work together, creating a tri-council of all three organizations in surgical technology. A joint task force will decide the format of the tri-council. The consortium will identify projects that each of the three branches can pursue that will lead to better recognition in the surgical technology community.

In addition, the three groups defined the mission statement that drives them all: “To Enhance the Profession to Ensure Quality Patient Care.”  They also defined their core values as the following:

Every patient deserves a Certified Surgical Technologist, ensuring excellence in surgical patient care through:                                 

  • quality education
  • quality credentialing
  • exemplary practice

At the end of the three-day summit, all three organizations agreed to continue the practice of meeting once a year to monitor progress on meeting the goals set at the strategic planning session and to create new projects and procedures to advance the field of surgical technology.

NBSTSA teams with AST to process renewal continuing education credits.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, NBSTSA and AST teamed to begin processing continuing education credits for certificants interested in renewing their certification through the CEU process.

All credits will be processed through the AST office, then checked via secure computer links at the NBSTSA offices.

Credits must be received and processed at AST before the certification expiration date.

AST members can have credits processed during both four- and six-year cycles at no charge. Non-members pay a fee based on the certification and the cycle.

Six year cycle for CST renewals is $400; four –year cycle for CSTs is $400. The CSFA six-year cycle is $400 and the four-year cycle is $400.

For more information on how CEUs are processed, contact AST Member Services by dialing 1-800-637-7433 option 3.