Nursing Program Essential Skills


In an effort to assist individuals in making career decisions, the faculty in the Department of Nursing has prepared the following list of skills which nursing students are expected to demonstrate.

Reasonable accommodation for students with disability related needs will be determined on an individual basis taking into consideration the essential skills which must be performed to meet program objectives. Decisions regarding reasonable accommodation will be directed toward maximizing the student's independence while maintaining personal and patient dignity and safety.

The following activities are representative of essential skills required of nursing students beginning with the first semester of study and continuing throughout the program. These skills have been separated into three different but not necessarily discreet areas. The student will be expected to:


Lift and carry light objects such as charts and equipment items without assistance.

Transfer/position up to 300 pounds with assist while lifting, positioning, and transferring patients.

Push/pull equipment requiring force of 10-30 pounds on linoleum and carpeted floors.

Push/pull patients in chairs.

Manipulate equipment through doorways and into close fitting areas.

Stand, walk up to 75% of an eight hour day.

Stoop, bend, squat, reach overhead as required to reach equipment.

Demonstrate coordination in patient treatments/procedures.

Demonstrate eye hand coordination, manual and finger dexterity and sensation.

Tolerate wearing gloves and other protective equipment.

Demonstrate skills to continuously comprehend and communicate with patients, physicians, staff and faculty.

Identify individuals, call lights and unusual occurrences on a unit at a distance of 100 feet.

Read small print, discriminate color and perceive depth.

Show corrected vision and hearing to normal range.

Distinguish sounds with background noise ranging from conversational levels to high pitched sounding alarms. Must be able to hear verbal communication as well as sounds that indicate changes in a patient's condition, i.e. breath and heart sounds, blood pressure.

Operate equipment required in health care delivery.

Concentrate on moderate and/or fine detail with frequent interruptions necessary to perform a variety of tasks.

Maintain attention spans requiring from 10-60 minutes to perform minimal to fine detailed tasks related to nursing functions.

Remember multiple messages and information.

Elicit a health history from patient/family.

Use correct body mechanics.

Use appropriate hand washing technique.

Gown, glove, and mask appropriately.

Perform sterile technique.

Provide for activities of daily living for their patients.

Make an occupied bed.

Perform range of motion for the patient.

Assess pertinent body systems.

Auscultate (Listen for and distinguish cardiac, lung and abdominal sounds).

Palpate (Feel for pulses, lumps).

Percuss (Short, quick blows by the fingers, usually to chest or abdomen in order to obtain a sound for the determination of density, size or position).

Perform procedures ordinarily requiring manual dexterity and precision.

Demonstrate focused observational skills.

Interpret emotions and meaning from the patient's verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

Communicate empathy through the appropriate use of listening skills.

Give and receive relevant verbal and nonverbal feedback.

Demonstrate the interpersonal and analytical skills necessary to participate actively in all phases of group development and multi-disciplinary care.


Occasional exposure to blood/body fluids as required for invasive procedures and treatments.

Frequent exposure to biologic and infectious agents.

Frequent exposure to chemical compounds of medications and treatments.

Continuous exposure to hazardous chemicals such as disinfectants, cleansers, soap, etc.

Continuous exposure to latex, tyvex, plastic and/or materials which are used for personal protective equipment.

Occasional exposure to loud and unpleasant noises, as well as bodily injury due to unpredictable behavior of patients.

Seasonal exposure to heat, cold and humidity due to patient and agency options to control their environment.

Some exposure to communicable diseases, toxic substances and ionizing radiation.

Be flexible, receptive and adaptive to change.

Control impulsivity.

Participate in professional and interpersonal relationships with appropriate, ethical/professional behavior and attire.