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College of
Health Sciences

Technical standards

According to the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing — the U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting body for programs leading to Nursing degrees in the United States — Geisinger must develop and publish technical standards for the admission, retention and graduation of applicants or nursing students in accordance with legal standards. 

The School of Nursing technical standards developed by Geisinger set out below reflect and are consistent with the school’s mission statement and educational philosophy. Diversity is a key part of Geisinger’s mission to graduate excellent students fully prepared to serve diverse patient populations and reduce prevalent inequities in northeast Pennsylvania and elsewhere. We work to add value to the learning experiences for all participants by providing a diverse and inclusive learning environment. 

Essential functions of a nursing student are as follows:

Cognitive Abilities (including intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities): Candidates must have sufficient cognitive abilities, including intellectual-conceptual and integrative and quantitative, to acquire foundational knowledge and apply, calculate, analyze, reason, interpret, integrate, and synthesize knowledge and information in a manner that leads to prioritization of patient care, formulation and implementation of treatment plans. The candidate must possess critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment.

Examples of intellectual-conceptual abilities include:

  • Acquiring foundational knowledge through memorization, calculation, organization, comprehension, and assimilation of detailed and complex information present in the nursing student curriculum
  • Discerning and comprehending dimensional and spatial relationships of structures
  • Effectively participating in learning modalities, such as individual, small group, and lecture formats in the classroom, clinical settings, and other venues in which the curriculum or required activities are delivered
  • Effectively learning, participating and contributing as a part of a healthcare team

Examples of integrative and quantitative capacity include:

  • Formulating a hypothesis, investigating the potential answers and outcomes, analyzing data and problem solving to formulate appropriate and accurate conclusions
  • Interpreting causal connections and making accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information to develop patient-centered nursing care plans
  • Synthesizing information effectively in person, via remote technology and in other venues and modalities
  • Making concise, cogent and thorough presentations based on various kinds of data collection, including web-based research
  • Organizing information, materials and tasks in order to perform efficiently and effectively

Observational Skills: Candidates must be able to use observational skills to acquire, assimilate, and apply information that may lead to conclusions or perceptions about physical, cognitive, social, cultural,  and intellectual environments that are gleaned from:

  • Demonstrations in simulation and laboratory scenarios
  • Written and audiovisual material
  • Patient encounters and one-on-one interactions

Students should be able to assess a patient and evaluate findings. These skills require the use of vision, hearing, and touch, or the functional equivalent.

Examples of knowledge acquisition through observation include:

  • Detecting changes in mood, activity and verbal or nonverbal cues
  • Performing physical examinations, including examinations using an array of equipment, such as a stethoscope, to integrate findings based on this information
  • Acquiring information, including but not limited to direct interaction with patients, direct or recorded lab simulations, virtual clinical cases or results of computer-based searches
  • Interpreting diagnostic findings and graphic images, such as EKGs and blood lab testing

Communication Skills: Candidates must be able to effectively and sensitively communicate information, including eliciting, conveying, clarifying and acting on the information, and creating rapport by multiple modalities with:

  • Patients and/or designated representatives of patients (including family members)
  • Faculty, colleagues, members of the healthcare team, support staff and others with whom the candidate interacts

Candidates must be able to:

  • Use interpersonal skills to establish responsive, empathetic and respectful communication and rapport and therapeutic relationships with patients in a way that promotes openness on issues of concern and sensitivity, including potential cultural differences and the use of an interpreter
  • Record information accurately, timely and clearly
  • Recognize urgent situations in which timely supervision, assistance and consultation must be sought
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently in verbal and written English

Examples of areas in which skillful communication is required include:

  • Participating as an individual and as a member of a group in learning activities
  • Answering oral and written exam questions
  • Presenting information in oral and written form to patients, staff, faculty, colleagues, the healthcare team and others
  • Taking medical histories and performing physical examinations, which include ability to interact with patients
  • Participating in clinical rounds and conferences
  • Interacting with and responding to faculty and the interdisciplinary healthcare team
  • Completing and navigating electronic medical record entries and documentation of patient assessments, treatment plans and medication administrations in a timely and accurate way

Physical and motor function: Candidates must possess physical stamina sufficient to tolerate clinical experiences. Candidates must also have sufficient physical and fine and gross motor function to:

  • Elicit information from patients by performing appropriate physical examinations using diagnostic maneuvers and procedures
  • Function in outpatient, inpatient and surgical venues
  • Ensure that general nursing care and emergency treatment is provided to patients
  • Provide or direct the provision of holistic nursing care and perform, assist with or direct procedures, treatments and medication administration

Students should be able to execute motor movements required to provide general care to patients and provide or direct the provision of emergency treatment of patients. Such actions require some coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, balance and equilibrium.

Behavioral and social attributes: Candidates must possess the following behavioral and social attributes:

  • Work and learn independently and collaboratively
  • Exercise good judgement
  • Develop mature, sensitive, safe and effective relationships with patients, staff, faculty, colleagues, the healthcare team and others
  • Express compassion, integrity and concern for others

Emotional stability: Candidates must possess the emotional stability and resilience to:

  • Remain patient, calm and react appropriately in high stress situations
  • Engage in self-reflection
  • Accept and give constructive feedback
  • Possess self-awareness and self-analysis of emotional state and reactions
  • Function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients
  • Interact with patients who are transitioning to end of life, with patients who have clinically definable psychiatric issues and with patients, spouses, siblings, children and close relatives of seriously ill patients
  • Adapt to changing environments and display flexibility

Ethics and professionalism: Candidates must exercise the appropriate ethical and professional conduct and personal attributes that are critical to the nursing profession, including the ability to:

  • Understand, distinguish and apply the legal, moral and ethical conduct and values of nursing practice and function within both the law and ethical standards of the profession
  • Construct frames of reference that delimit appropriate professional, ethical and moral behavior and values
  • Accept responsibility, accountability, and ownership of one’s actions.
  • Maintain appropriate professional relationships and boundaries with patients, family, staff, faculty, colleagues, the healthcare team and others
  • Readily and willingly interact with all members of the healthcare team, faculty and staff, patients and families, and care of any patient in a courteous, professional and respectful manner, regardless of the patient’s age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status or political beliefs
  • Maintain patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Advocate for patients
  • Abide by all state, federal and local laws, as well as GCHS policies and procedures, related to the use of alcohol and drugs

Examples are not all inclusive. If you believe you can’t meet one or more of the standards without accommodations or modifications, the school of nursing must determine, on an individual basis, whether or not the necessary accommodations or modifications can be reasonably made. Direct accommodation requests to the program director or designee.

If you have a change in your health during the program of learning prevents you from meeting essential functions, with or without accommodations, it may result in withdrawal from the nursing program. The nursing faculty reserves the right at any time to require an additional medical examination at your expense in order to evaluate your ability to perform the essential functions.


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