James Madison University

Technical Standards

Technical standards are basic physical, cognitive, and psychosocial skills and abilities that are required for nursing practice. The following standards were developed to guide students to make an informed decision regarding nursing as a career. In order to complete the nursing curriculum and enter practice as a registered professional nurse, all students must possess abilities and skills in the areas of sensation, communication, motor function and behavioral proficiency.

The following skills are required:

Auditory: A student must possess auditory ability to monitor and assess health needs. This includes (but is not limited to) the ability to:


  • Hear and interpret information a patient is communicating verbally
  • Hear auscultory sounds using a stethoscope.
  • Hear auditory signals from technical equipment.
  • Hear cries for help.
  • Communicate over the telephone.

Visual Acuity: A student must possess visual ability sufficient for observation and assessment necessary to provide nursing care. This includes (but is not limited to) the ability to:


  • See drainage on dressings and drainage of body fluids.
  • Note fluid levels, for example, in collection devices, syringes, and infusion devices.
  • Read gauges (such as a sphygmomanometer) that monitor patient progress.
  • See to administer treatments such as I.V. fluids and oxygen.
  • Observe changes in patient skin color.
  • Assess movements of patients.
  • Observe patient behavior, which is necessary in a rehabilitation or psychiatric setting.

Tactile: A student must possess tactile ability sufficient to perform a physical assessment of a patient and to perform procedures necessary for nursing care.


This includes (but is not limited to) the ability to:

  • Perform palpation and other functions necessary for a physical examination.
  • Assess texture, shape, size, temperature and vibration.
  • Perform therapeutic functions such as inserting a urinary catheter or I.V.,
  • changing dressings, and giving medications.
  • Collect specimens necessary for assessment of the patient.

Sense of Smell: It is desirable that a student possess a sense of smell acute enough to detect strong odors that may indicate a change in a patient’s condition.


Examples include (but are not limited to) the ability to smell:

  • A purulent wound.
  • Ketones on a patient’s breath.
  • Body fluids that have a strong odor.
  • Smoke or other Olfactory indicator of environmental danger.

Communication: A student must be able to communicate in English effectively and sensitively with clients, family members, and other members of the health care team. This includes expressive and receptive modes of verbal, nonverbal and written communication.


Examples include (but are not limited to) the ability to:

  • Explain treatment procedures.
  • Initiate health teaching.
  • Document nursing assessment, nursing action, and client/family responses.
  • Read patient documentation and important medical literature.
  • Give an accurate report of patient information to other health care professionals
  • and members of the client’s health care team.

Motor Function: A student must have sufficient motor function, neuromuscular strength and coordination to effectively perform the activities required of a nurse. Examples include (but are not limited to) the ability to:


  • Transfer clients from wheelchair to bed and from bed to stretcher.
  • Elicit information from clients by:
    • Palpation
    • Auscultation
    • Percussion
  • Manipulate diagnostic instruments to adequately perform all aspects of a physical assessment.
  • Perform CPR.
  • Administer intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous, and oral medications.
  • Manipulate life support devices.
  • Apply pressure to stop bleeding.

Gross and Fine Motor Coordination: A student must have sufficient gross and fine motor coordination to:


  • Move about in patient care environments.
  • Perform treatments and procedures.
  • Calibrate and use equipment.
  • Navigate stairs or other non-Handicapped accessible client settings.

Stamina: A student must have sufficient stamina to sit, stand and move within the classroom, skills lab, acute care nursing units, operating rooms and community settings for periods of time as long as ten hours at a time.


Behavioral: A student must possess the ability to establish and maintain appropriate professional relationships.


Factors included in this requirement are the ability to:

  • Act ethically.
  • Exercise sound clinical judgment.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with clients.
  • Complete all responsibilities attendant to the care of clients.

Emotional Health: A student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities including the ability to:


  • Prioritize competing demands.
  • Function in stressful circumstances.
  • Tolerate physically taxing workloads.
  • Adjust to changing circumstances.

Announcements


Admission to the BSN Program

Welcome to JMU Nursing

Dr. Julie Sanford

Our mission is to prepare nursing leaders to influence a changing profession, society, health care system, and world.  The students, faculty and staff in our department meet the challenge to Be the Change in our university and in society. More >