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Technical Standards of the Practical Nursing Student

North Carolina's Nursing Practice Act (August 2007), defines nursing as: “a dynamic discipline which includes the caring, counseling, teaching, referring and implementing of prescribed treatment in the prevention and management of illness, injury, disability or the achievement of a dignified death. It is ministering to, assisting, and sustained, vigilant, and continuous care of those acutely or chronically ill; supervising patients during convalescence and rehabilitation; the supportive and restorative care given to maintain the optimum health level of individuals and communities; the supervision, teaching, and evaluation of those who perform or are preparing to perform these functions; and the administration of nursing programs and nursing services.”

The education of a nurse requires assimilation of knowledge, acquisition of skills and development of nursing care judgment in order to make appropriate decisions required in practice. Physical, cognitive, psychomotor, affective, and social abilities are required in unique combinations to provide safe and effective nursing care. Therefore, the ICC Practical Nursing Program requires that the applicant/student be able to meet the essential functions of the program with or without reasonable accommodations throughout the program of learning. Admission, progression, and graduation are contingent upon one’s ability to demonstrate the essential functions delineated for the Practical Nursing Program with or without reasonable accommodations. The Practical Nursing program reserves the right to amend the essential functions as deemed necessary.

In order to be admitted and to progress in the Practical Nursing Program, one must possess a functional level of ability to perform the duties required of a practical nurse. Admission or progression may be denied if a student is unable to demonstrate the essential functions delineated by the Practical Nursing Program with or without reasonable accommodations.

The essential functions outlined below are deemed necessary by the Isothermal Community College Practical Nursing Program for the provision of safe and effective nursing care. The essential functions, while not intended to be representative of clinical agency standards, include but are not limited to, the ability to perform the following:


Visual perception

  • Observe client responses at a distance and close at hand
  • Detect changes in skin color or condition
  • Accurately read number on equipment and fluid collection devices
  • Discriminate colors


Auditory perception

  • Detect sounds related to bodily functions using a stethoscope
  • Detect audible alarms within the frequency and volume ranges of the sounds generated by mechanical systems that monitor bodily functions
  • Detect audible responses from clients and families

Olfactory perception

  • Discern various odors from the client (foul smelling drainage, alcohol breath, etc.)
  • Detect smoke from burning materials
  • Detect gases or noxious smells (spoiled food)


Tactile perception

  • Detect changes in skin temperature
  • Detect unsafe temperature levels in heat-producing devices used in patient care
  • Detect anatomical abnormalities, such as subcutaneous crepitus, edema, or infiltrated intravenous fluid
  • Feel vibrations (pulses, etc.)
  • Feel differences in surface characteristic s (skin turgor, rashes, etc.)
  • Feel differences is sizes, shapes (palpate vein, identify body landmarks, etc.)


Strength and mobility

  • Safely transfer and position patients in and out of bed and assist them with ambulation using appropriate assuasive devices
  • Safely control the fall of a patient, by slowly lowering the patient
  • Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Ability to safely bend, lift, and twist to assist the client in moving from one surface to another
  • Transport self and client without the use of electrical devices
  • Frequently lift objects weighting a minimum of 50 pounds
  • Able to maneuver in small spaces


Fine motor skills

  • Possess manual dexterity to safely grasp and manipulate small objects
  • Safely dispose of needles in sharps containers
  • Manipulate small equipment and containers, such as syringes, vials, ampules, and medication packages, to administer medications


Physical endurance

  • Sufficient to complete assigned periods of clinical practice
  • Stand, bend, walk, and/or sit for six to 12 hours in a clinical setting, performing physical activities requiring energy without jeopardizing the safety of the client, self, or others


Communication ability

  • Engage in a two-way communication and interact effectively with others, both verbally and in writing
  • Express ideas and feelings clearly and be willing to give and receive feedback
  • Gather information appropriately and listen effectively
  • Discern and interpret nonverbal communication
  • Document relevant patient information (manual or via computer)


Interpersonal Skills

  • Work effectively both in groups and independently
  • Display correct judgment in seeking supervision and consultation in a timely manner


Behavior/Emotional stability

  • Effectively performs nursing care during multiple interruptions and rapidly changing environments
  • Establish therapeutic boundaries while performing patient care
  • Focus attention on tasks while performing patient care
  • Perform multiple patient care responsibilities concurrently
  • Anticipate and intervene in situations which may compromise safety


Cognitive ability

  • Effectively read, write, and comprehend the English language
  • Ability to collect, analyze, and integrate information and knowledge to make informed clinical judgments
  • Demonstrate satisfactory performance on written examination including mathematical computations without a calculator


Professional behavior 

  • Convey a caring, respectful, sensitive, tactful, compassionate, empathetic, and tolerant attitude toward others
  • Demonstrate a mentally healthy attitude that is age appropriate in relationship to the client and environment
  • Handle multiple tasks concurrently
  • Perform safe, effective nursing care
  • Understand and follow the policies and procedures of the college and clinical agencies
  • Not pose a threat to yourself or others
  • Function effectively in situations of uncertainty and stress
  • Able to reason morally and to practice nursing in an ethical manner
  • Perform assigned responsibilities without the influence of chemicals, both prescription and non-prescription
  • Report promptly to clinical and remain on the unit for the entire time allotted
  • Provide nursing care in an appropriate time frame
  • Accept responsibility, accountability, and ownership of one's actions


If a nursing student or applicant believes that he or she cannot meet one or more of the standards without accommodations or modifications, the college must determine, on an individual basis, whether or not the necessary accommodations or modifications can be reasonably made. Requests for accommodations should be directed to Alfreda Lindsay, Counselor and Student Advocacy Coordinator at 828-395-1732.

I have reviewed the Technical Standards for the Practical Nursing program and I certify to the best of my knowledge that I have the ability to perform these functions. I understand that a further evaluation of my ability may be required and conducted by the nursing faculty if deemed necessary to evaluate my ability prior to admission to the program and for retentions and progression through the program. I will provide a description of any special accommodations that I requested.