Core Performance Standards

The Practical Nurse program prepares students for practical nurse practice in any entry-level clinical setting in accordance with the scope of nursing practice. Safe and competent nursing practice requires that graduates demonstrate competencies in knowledge, skills, and attitude guided by adherence to ethical and legal principles.

The School of Health Studies is committed to providing reasonable accommodation in its academic programs to qualified individuals with disabilities, including but not limited to learning disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is one that does not require a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program or lower academic and/or clinical standards.

Throughout the program, students must be able to perform in a reasonably independent and timely manner that does not affect the quality of care, the safety of patients or other individuals, and in a way that does not adversely affect the School of Health Studies, clinical affiliates, or any member of the healthcare team.

Students must be able to meet all of the performance standards outlined below, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be admitted and progress in the program. Individuals requiring accommodations while enrolled in the program are encouraged to speak with a representative of the College’s Office of Accessibility Services before enrolling in clinical and/or laboratory courses. These core performance standards are required skills in order to render safe nursing care to patients in various clinical settings.

Some chronic or recurrent illnesses and problems could interfere with patient care and safety, and may be incompatible with nursing education and practice, since they may lead to a higher chance of absences. Nursing students are not required to disclose any chronic or recurrent illness and/or disability; however, students with concerns about meeting these technical standards are strongly encouraged to discuss the issues with the Department Chair and/or the Office of Accessibility Services. Deficiencies in knowledge, skills, judgments, integrity, or professional attitude may jeopardize patient care and, as a result, may be grounds for course failure and possible dismissal from the nursing program.

Students must have the aptitude and abilities in six areas: sensory ability and skills; fine and gross motor skills; strength, mobility, and physical endurance; the ability to communicate, comprehend, read, and write in English; behavioral stability; and cognitive ability and critical thinking skills.

It is the student’s responsibility to understand the duties, responsibilities, skills, and abilities required to be a practical nurse. In addition to the technical standards described below, students are encouraged to review the information regarding practical nursing at the O*NET website.

The following list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but instead it offers examples of required activities. Students are encouraged to review the standards carefully; if there are any questions or concerns, they should be discussed with the Chair of the Undergraduate Nursing Department and/or the Office of Accessibility Services.

Core Performance Standard Definition of Core Performance Standard Examples of Required Activities (not all inclusive)
Visual Optical ability to sufficiently observe a patient and gather data accurately from a distance as well as close up
  • Visual acuity sufficient to correctly measure and prepare medications
  • Detect changes in skin color or condition
  • Collect data from patient care equipment, monitoring devices, and measuring equipment used in the care of clients 
  • Read measuring devices that may be hung or placed below bed level
  • Read fine print in varying levels of light
Hearing Auditory ability sufficient for physical monitoring and assessment of patient healthcare needs
  • Hear normal speaking level sounds
  • Detect sounds related to bodily functions with the use of a stethoscope, or detect audible alarms generated by mechanical equipment used to monitor patient’s physiologic status
  • Detect signs of fire and initiate emergency actions
  • Hear call bells and/or cries for help
Smell Olfactory ability sufficient to detect significant patient and environmental odors
  • Detect odors of bodily fluids, such as foul smelling drainage, spoiled foods, or smoke from burning materials
  • Detect smoke
Tactile Tactile ability sufficient for physical monitoring and assessment of healthcare needs
  • Tactile ability to detect unsafe temperature levels of solutions or heat-producing devices used in patient care
  • Tactile ability to detect anatomical abnormalities like edema, swelling, or nodules and masses
  • Feel vibrations such as palpable pulse, feel differences in size and shape needed to identify bodily landmarks or skin surface signs such as rash or skin turgor
Communication Oral communication skills sufficient to communicate in English with accuracy, clarity, and efficiency with patients, their families, and other members of the healthcare team, including non-verbal communication such as interpretation of facial expressions, affect, and body language
  • Communicate clearly with patients and their families, and members of the healthcare team
  • Give verbal directions to, or follow verbal directions from, other members of the healthcare team and participate in healthcare team discussions of patient care
  • Recognize and report critical patient information to other caregivers
Gross Motor Skills Gross motor skills sufficient to provide the full range of safe and efficient patient care activities
  • Gather data by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic means
  • Position patients, and assist in turning or lifting patients
  • Reach below the waist or overhead while providing patient care or performing nursing procedures
  • Maneuver in small patient areas such as patient rooms, treatment rooms, or nursing work stations
Fine Motor Skills Fine motor skills sufficient to perform manual psychomotor skills
  • Pick up and handle small objects, such as insulin syringes, pills, etc., with fingers
  • Carry out patient care procedures such as tracheostomy care, wound care, airway suctioning 
Physical Endurance Physical stamina sufficient to remain on task continuously for a six-, eight-, or 12-hour clinical shift while standing, sitting, moving, lifting, and bending in order to perform various patient care activities
  • Complete a six-, eight-, or 12-hour clinical shift which could be in varying times of the day or day of the week such as day shift, evening shift, night shift, or weekend shifts
  • Turn and position patients as a preventive need against development of skin breakdown
  • Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Physical Strength Physical strength sufficient to perform the full range of required patient care activities
  • Push and/or pull 250 pounds
  • Lift and/or move heavy objects weighing between 25 and 50 pounds
Mobility Physical ability sufficient to move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces; full range of motion to twist, bend, stoop, squat, reach above shoulders and below waist and move quickly; manual and finger dexterity; and hand-eye coordination to perform nursing activities
  • Walk without a cane, walker, or crutches in order to ambulate patient and provide bedside care
  • Move around work and/or treatment areas. Position oneself in the environment in order to render care without obstructing the position of other team members and/or equipment
Emotional stability and appropriate behavior sufficient to assume responsibility and accountability for actions
  • Deal with the unexpected, such as frequently changing client status
  • Handle strong emotions
  • Be flexible with changing environments and schedules in both classes and clinical settings
  • Be able to work in close quarters with clients, classmates, nursing faculty, and members of the healthcare teams
  • Focus attention on task
  • Monitor own emotions and be able to keep emotions under control in classroom and clinical environments
  • Establish a therapeutic relationship and communicate in a supportive manner
Professional Attitudes and Interpersonal Skills Present professional appearance and demeanor; demonstrate ability to communicate with patients, supervisors, and other members of the healthcare team to achieve a positive and safe work environment. Follow instructions and safety protocols
  • Maintain empathetic, flexible, culturally sensitive, therapeutic relationships with others
  • Accept accountability and responsibility for one's actions
  • Comply with both the ethical and legal standards of the nursing profession
  • Express compassion, empathy, and a caring concern for others
  • Demonstrate initiative, motivation, and diligence
  • Display integrity, honesty, and responsibility
  • Display respect, sensitivity, and tolerance for diverse populations
  • Demonstrate comfort with close physical contact in the care of clients
Cognitive/Quantitative Abilities Reading comprehension skills and mathematical ability sufficient to understand documents written in English and solve problems involving measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis
  • Give clear, oral patient reports
  • Read graphs
  • Read and understand printed instructional materials for both classroom and/or clinical setting use
  • Legibly write or type in client physical or electronic records
  • Effectively converse with patient and members of the healthcare team
  • Discriminate fine/subtle differences in medical word or medications
  • Give and understand verbal directions
Conceptual/Spatial Abilities Conceptual spatial ability sufficient to comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships
  • Comprehend spatial relationship needed to properly administer parenteral medication such as intramuscular, subcutaneous, intradermal, or assess wounds of varying depths
Clinical Reasoning Ability to logically reason across time regarding a patient’s changing condition
  • Carry out the nursing process in the care of patients
  • Process information thoroughly and quickly to prioritize tasks
  • Analyze and synthesize data to effectively contribute to the patient plan of care
  • Sequence or cluster patient findings
  • Accurately calculate medication dosage given specific patient parameters
  • Identify cause and effect relationships
  • Effective and accurately collect data, prioritize, and anticipate reactions
  • Demonstrate skill of recall using both long- and short-term memory, inferential reasoning, anticipation of possible outcomes, application of knowledge, and evaluation of predicted outcomes according to the level in the program
Flexibility Adapt to College’s course schedule policy
  • Available to work the hours of an assigned schedule, which may include any shift during any day of the week; or attend on-campus classes during the day, evening, and/or weekend
Timeliness Ability to be responsive within appropriate time period
  • Perform all laboratory and clinical skills within a pre-established timeframe that ensures safe patient care