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Salaries for OR Nurses

Our experience has been that many employers will pay their RNFAs anywhere from $2.00 to $8.00 per hour more than what they were paying them before they completed their first assistant training. This is largely because they continue to see you as an advanced version of an OR Nurse.

If your employer can see you are now in a different category with more responsibility, more liability, and deserving of a higher pay scale, you could do much better. says, “The median annual Staff Nurse – RN – Surgical First Assistant salary is $85,998 as of September 30, 2016, with a range usually between $77,762 and $95,725, however this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors.” says that the assistant’s salary can reach as much as $200,000.

These salaries do not take into account call pay, shift differential, and overtime.

“I made $105,000 annually as a freelance assistant. And to make that, I only had to work an average of 20 hours per week. That comports very well with the report of $200,000 for full-time assistants.

Well, things have changed significantly for the better from the time when I started assisting back in 1989. Back then, the company I was with was charging the insurance company 18% of the surgeon’s fee for my services. This did not come out of the surgeon’s fee. It was just a method of calculating the fee for the assistant. We chose 18% to charge less than a surgeon who assisted in hopes that insurance companies would start to prefer us. Didn’t turn out that way.

Now most first assistants charge the same as that second surgeon, which is around 35%. If you are freelance, you are self-employed and you get to choose what you charge. Some decide to charge even more than 35%. So today’s freelance assistants charge double, if not more, of what we used to charge.

What are the results? Well I haven’t asked a lot of freelance assistants what they make. But I do know specifically of 2 assistants who make in the $350,000 range. It varies depending on your case load, the kind of cases you assist on, how much you charge, and how effectively you collect from the insurance carrier.”

- Dan Bump, President, CEO, ACE Surgical Assisting

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