Isothermal Community CollegeFoothills Nursing Consortium

Essential functions of a nursing student

The practice of nursing involves non-academic skills and performance requirements that are essential to participation in an educational program. These are cognitive, sensory, affective, and psychomotor performance functions; therefore, the essential eligible requirements for participants in a nursing program shall be further defined according to the following physical and emotional standards:

Nursing students should possess and be able to demonstrate the following:
  1. Critical Thinking: critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment. For example, student must be able to identify cause-effect relationships in clinical situations; collect and analyze data to aid in problem solving; develop or participate in the development of nursing care plans. The student must be able to read and apply information in the clinical setting.
  2. Interpersonal Skills: interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families, groups, etc. from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. For example student shall establish rapport.
  3. Communication Skills: communication abilities sufficient for interaction with others in English verbal and English written form. Must be able to read a patient chart and apply information to the clinical setting. Must be able to spell medical terms. For example: explain treatment procedures, initiate health teaching, document and interpret nursing actions and patient/client responses.
  4. Mobility: physical abilities sufficient to move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces. For example: frequent trips from work station to the patients’ rooms, moves around a patient’s room, work spaces, and treatment areas. Able to tolerate the 12 hour clinical experience.
  5. Motor skills: gross and fine motor abilities sufficient to provide safe and effective nursing care. For example: calibrate and use equipment, document care, position and move patients/clients, administer cardiopulmonary procedures, and perform skill procedures.
  6. Hearing: auditory ability, sufficient to monitor and assess health needs, and identify a change in patient condition. For example: hear monitor alarms, emergency signals, auscultation sounds, and cries for help. Hear, understand, and apply English language.
  7. Visual: visual ability sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in nursing care. For example: observe patient/client responses, specimen color, distinguish between the colors, as in determining stages of healing.
  8. Tactile: tactile ability sufficient for physical assessment. For example: perform palpation, functions of physical examination and/or those related to therapeutic intervention, insertions of catheters, taking pulses, and change in temperature. Olfactory: discern various odors from patients and environment. For example: foul smelling drainages, burning materials, gases, and spoiled food.
  9. Weight-Bearing Strength and Mobility: ability to lift and manipulate/move 45-50 pounds daily. For example: position patients/clients, move equipment.
  10. Cognitive Abilities: ability to be oriented to time, place and person, organize responsibilities, and make decisions. For example: student shall assess patient/client complaints, provide prioritized patient care, and implement appropriate plans. The student must be able to provide follow-up evaluative care.
  11. Temperament and Emotional Control:  Must be able to be patient, calm, and react to perform in a high stress situation. For example: cardiac event, shock, hemorrhage, and high stakes testing.
  12. Professional Behaviors: behaviors consistent with forming a safe and effective therapeutic relationship with patients. For example: conveying a caring, respectful, sensitive, tactful, compassionate, empathetic, and tolerant attitude toward patients, family, and members of the interdisciplinary team. Handle multiple tasks concurrently. Provide nursing care in an appropriate time frame. Accept responsibility, accountability, and ownership of one’s actions.

EXAMPLES ARE NOT INCLUSIVE: 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 the Disability Services Coordinator at the student’s home college. From that contact, accommodates will be arranged, if applicable, at other Consortium colleges.

A change in the student’s health during the program of learning so that the essential functions cannot be met, with or without reasonable accommodations, may result in withdrawal from the nursing program. The nursing faculty reserves the right at any time to require an additional medical examination at the student’s expense in order to assist with the evaluation of the student’s ability to perform the essential functions.

For more information please contact:

Isothermal Community College
P.O. Box 804
Spindale, NC 28160
(828) 395-1621

Kimberly A. Amos, Ph.D., M.S.(N)., R.N., C.N.E.
Director, Foothills Nursing Consortium
Interim Director, Practical Nurse Education

Tina M. Porter, B.S.,
Pre-Health Sciences Nursing Advisor
Schedule appointment with an advisor