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Technical Standards

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The VCU School of Nursing is responsible for providing education without regard to disability while assuring that academic and technical standards are met. This document defines the non-academic criteria for advancement through and graduation from the BS programs at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing.

The following technical standards describe the essential functions that a student is expected to demonstrate in order to fulfill the requirements of a nursing education program, and thus, are required for advancement through and graduation from the program. The technical standards for each category identified below are consistent with the expectation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The technical skill areas include motor, sensory/observation, communication, cognitive and behavioral.

Students must read and sign the technical skills document before matriculation into the VCU School of Nursing. It is incumbent upon the student to review these technical standards on a regular basis to ensure continued compliance. If a student finds that they are unable to be in compliance with technical standards for an acute or chronic condition, they should speak with the advisor and pertinent course faculty immediately.

Motor Skills

General: A student must have sufficient motor function and coordination of gross and fine muscle movements necessary to execute movements essential to providing effective and safe healthcare activities required of a nurse. Students must be able to execute these movements in a safe, deliberate and (as the situation warrants) swift fashion.
Examples of tasks utilizing gross and fine motor skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Performing CPR
  • Assisting in the transferring and positioning of patients
  • Apply physical restraints to adults and children
  • Engage in periods of prolonged standing or sitting while in the clinical setting. Shifts may be anywhere from 8-12 hours.
  • Move deliberately and safely within confined settings such as the patient room or operating room
  • Obtaining labs from a patient via blood draw
  • Use and calibrate equipment such as monitors, sphygmomanometers, stethoscopes, etc.

Visual

Sensory/Observation

General: A student must be able to acquire assessment information visually to assist in providing safe, competent nursing care.
Examples of tasks utilizing visual processing include but are not limited to:

  • Observing patient's skin color and general body habitus.
  • Observing readings on monitors and gauges.
  • Observing drainage, bleeding or other exudates on dressings or in drainage devices.
  • Properly see and read notes in a patient's chart or medical record.

Auditory

General: A student must be able to acquire assessment information auditorily to assist in providing safe, competent nursing care.
Examples of tasks utilizing auditory processing include, but are not limited to:

  • Hearing patient or family member calls for help
  • Hearing verbal commands from other providers and colleagues
  • Hearing alarms from equipment
  • Hearing sounds produced by auscultation via a stethoscope
  • Hearing conversations via telephone or other electronic means (i.e., teleconferencing)

Tactile

General: A student must be able to acquire assessment information via tactile assessment (percussion and palpation) to assist in providing safe, competent nursing care.

Examples of tasks utilizing tactile assessment skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Palpating skin lesions, masses or other protuberances
  • Palpating the skin to assess temperature

Olfactory

General: A student must be able to acquire assessment information via olfactory assessment to assist in providing safe, competent nursing care.
Examples of tasks utilizing olfactory assessment skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Smelling exudates or other drainage from a patient
  • Smelling smoke, fire or other environmental indicators of imminent danger
  • Smelling other clinical indicators of acute patient decompensation (i.e., ketones, alcohol, etc.)

Communications

General: The student must have proficiency of the English language such that they may communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, family members, and other members of the healthcare team. This includes verbal, written, and non-verbal communications. Sound communication is critical for safe, and coordinated quality of care. The student needs to be able to demonstrate appropriate expressive and receptive communication.

Examples of tasks which require sound communication skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading and obtaining information from various texts, articles and other educational aids.
  • Reading and obtaining information from clinical documents including but not limited to patient charts, images (CT, X-ray, MRI, etc.)
  • Reading for the purposes of safety verification a patient's arm band, barcode for medication administration, or laboratory order slips.
  • Obtaining a health history on a patient, family or community
  • Explaining relevant lab results, diagnoses or the plan of care in a manner which is meaningful, respectful, and understood by the patient or the family.
  • Explaining aforementioned lab results, diagnoses or plan of care in a way that is respectful and not unduly alarming to patients and their family members.
  • Correctly and succinctly document assessment findings either verbally or written as the situation dictates.

Cognitive

General: A student must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize complex information and demonstrate acquired knowledge across multiple care settings.
Examples of tasks which require cognitive ability include, but are not limited to:

  • Comprehension of three-dimensional relationships
  • Understanding and comprehension of spatial relationships of structures to allow for safe navigation of the clinical space.
  • Problem solving in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
  • Converse and problem solve with multiple members of the healthcare team in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
  • Engage in critical thinking and analysis in a timely fashion to ensure prompt and safe delivery of care.
  • Engage in ethical decision making, properly weighing pros, cons and patients' preferences.
  • Obtain and interpret assessment and patient care information from a variety of media including written reports, verbal reports, and electronic orders in a timely fashion to assist in providing safe, competent care.

Behavioral

General: A student must possess appropriate mental and behavioral health required for full use of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with and colleagues.

Examples of tasks which espouse proper mental and behavioral health include, but are not limited to:

  • Ability to adapt to rapidly changing environments; maintain functionality and flexibility in highly stressful and uncertain environments and circumstances.
  • Ability to be flexible; functioning well in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical setting and the patient's clinical trajectory.
  • Demonstration of compassion, integrity and concern for patients, colleagues and others.
  • Ability to accept constructive feedback (provided verbally or in writing) in the didactic and clinical portions of the program and appropriately modifying behavior based on the feedback.
  • Appropriately modify behavior based on feedback
    Demonstration of appropriate interprofessional relationships with other colleagues and staff.
  • Demonstration of appropriate, non-discriminatory and honest relationships with patients, families and communities.
  • Demonstration of appropriate professional boundaries with patients and families, including the avoidance of contacting patients via social media (i.e., Facebook)

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