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Technical Standards

Technical Standards for Admission, Academic Progression and Graduation

The goal of the College of Nursing (CON) programs is to prepare every student to think critically, and practice nursing competently and compassionately in rapidly changing practice environments. All efforts are designed to build nursing knowledge, enhance nursing practice and patient safety, foster professional integrity and ultimately improve the health outcomes of patients, families and communities across the continuum of care. In addition, certain functional abilities are essential for the delivery of safe, effective nursing care during clinical training activities. Therefore, the faculty has determined that certain technical standards are requisite for admission, progression and graduation from the nursing programs.

In addition to classroom learning, clinical learning occurs throughout the program and involves considerations (such as patient safety and clinical facilities) that are not present for classroom accommodations. For this reason, any applicant or student who seeks accommodations should do so prior to enrollment so that there is ample time to evaluate the types of reasonable accommodations needed for the clinical training component of the program.

An individual must be able to independently, with or without reasonable accommodation, meet the following technical standards of general abilities and those specifically of:

  1. observation;
  2. communication;
  3. motor;
  4. intellectual, conceptual and quantitative abilities;
  5. essential behavioral and social attributes; and
  6. ability to manage stressful situations.

These requirements pertain to student conduct regardless of the setting (e.g. classroom/didactic, office, on-campus simulation, off-campus clinical, email communications, etc.). Individuals unable to meet these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, will not be able to complete the program and are counseled to pursue alternate careers.

Students interested in applying for admission to the CON should review the Technical Standards to become familiar with the skills, abilities and behavioral characteristics requirement to complete the program. CON students must review the Technical Standards and acknowledge understanding by signing the multi-release form upon acceptance into the program.

Reasonable Accommodations

SDSU CON is committed to providing educational opportunities to qualified students with disabilities to afford such students an opportunity equal to that provided to non-disabled students to achieve a desired educational outcome. A “qualified individual” with a disability is one who, with or without reasonable accommodations, meets SDSU’s academic requirements and Technical Standards. Students with disabilities are not required to disclose their disability to the SDSU CON. However, any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Coordinator of Disability Services (605-688-4504 or Fax, 605-688-4987) to privately to discuss their specific needs. The Office of Disability Services is located in room 271 of the University Student Union in Brookings.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act define a person with a disability as someone who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR (2) has a record of such an impairment; OR (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Students are encouraged to meet with the Coordinator of Disability Services (605-688-4504 or Fax, 605-688-4987).

The Coordinator of Disability Services determines qualified disability status and assists students in obtaining appropriate accommodations and services. The CON provides reasonable accommodations to all students on a nondiscriminatory basis consistent with legal requirements as outlined in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to an instruction activity, equipment, facility, program or service that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to fulfill the requirements necessary for graduation from the nursing program. To be eligible for accommodations, a student must have a documented disability of (a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one more major life activities of such individual; (b) a record of such impairment; or (c) be regarded as having such a condition. While the process for requesting reasonable accommodations may be started at any time, reasonable accommodations may not be implemented retroactively. It is important that students allow ample time for their accommodation requests to be processed. While SDSU CON will make every effort to work with students with disabilities to accommodate their disability-related needs, SDSU CON is not required to provide accommodations that fundamentally alter or waive essential program requirements.

Technical Standards

General Abilities: Functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, and smell is expected of every student so that this sensory information may be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized accurately and consistently. A student must also possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, vibration and movement which are essential to gather information needed to effectively evaluate and care for patients. Each student must be able to promptly respond to urgent situations that may occur during clinical learning experiences and must not obstruct the ability of other members of the health care team to provide prompt treatment and care to patients.

Observational Ability: Sufficient capacity to make accurate visual observations and interpret them in the context of laboratory studies, medication administration and patient care activities must be present. The student must consistently be able to document these observations and maintain accurate records.

Communication Ability: The student must effectively communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, to gather information and to translate that information to diverse others. The abilities each student must possess include: reading, writing, comprehending and speaking the English language to facilitate communication with patients, their family members and other health care professionals. Additional essential abilities are: to maintain accurate patient records, to present information professionally and logically manner; and to provide counseling and teaching to effectively care for patients and their families. Verbal and written communication skills that permit effective communication with students and faculty in both the classroom and clinical settings are expected.

Motor Ability: Each student is required possess the motor movements needed to perform gross and fine motor skills with sufficient coordination needed to perform complete physical examinations utilizing the techniques of inspection, palpation, percussion, auscultation and other diagnostic maneuvers. A student must develop the psychomotor skills reasonably needed to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, management and operation of diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment, and such maneuvers to assist with patient care activities such as lifting, wheel chair guidance and mobility. The student must have sufficient levels of neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination as well as possess the physical and mental stamina to meet the demands associated with extended periods of sitting, standing, moving and physical exertion required for satisfactory and safe performance in the clinical and classroom settings including performing CPR, if necessary. The student must possess the ability of manual dexterity that would be required for certain activities, such as drawing up solutions in a syringe.

Conceptual and Quantitative Intellectual Abilities: Developing and refining problem-solving skills are critical developmental learning abilities for students to become practicing nurses. The abilities to measure, calculate, analyze, reason and synthesize objective and subjective data, and to make informed decisions, frequently in a time-sensitive environment are essential for nursing students. These intellectual abilities must reflect careful and consistent deliberation and sound clinical judgment. Mastery of these skills is expected. The ability to integrate and sensitively respond to new information from peers, faculty, and the evidence based literature must be present in order to make sound judgments in all aspects of patient care.

Social and Behavioral Attributes: Students must possess effective interpersonal skills, including the qualities of integrity, compassion, motivation, and a genuine concern for others. Students must be comfortable in the role of a student nurse and accept that the role functions under supervision of a clinical instructor or preceptor. Full utilization of the personal intellectual abilities and skills are essential, including sound judgment; timely completion of classroom and clinical responsibilities; and the ability to work with patients and members of the healthcare team effectively and with maturity. Stable, sound judgment must be demonstrated at all times to conduct assessment, intervention and evaluation activities. An ability to sensitively establish rapport and carry out interpersonal relationships with individuals, families, and groups from diverse social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds is essential. The student must learn to function cooperatively and efficiently in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice and be able to flexibly adapt to changing environments. A willingness to accept and respond to constructive criticism given in the classroom and clinical settings is critical.

Management of Stressful Situations: Adapting and functioning effectively in the face of stressful situations, including emergencies, or situations in the classroom or clinical are necessary. Nursing education inherently includes encounters with multiple stressors, which may include multiple personal, patient care/family, faculty/peer and or program-related factors.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from 2008 Essentials; Also see 2003 Essentials.

Dupler, A.E., Allen, C.B., Mahaedy, D., Fleming, S., & Allen, M.J. (2012, March). Leveling the playing field for nursing students with disabilities: Implications of the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Journal of Nursing Education, 51(3), 140-144.

Marks, B. & Ailey, S. White paper on inclusion of students with disabilities in nursing educational programs for the California committee on employment of people with disabilities.