Technical Standards

Students accepted into the Watts School of Nursing with or without reasonable accommodations are expected to have the following technical abilities in order to effectively and safely perform the requirements of a student nurse.

Essential student nurse functions in the clinical area:

The student nurse is expected to spend several hours a day performing these functions. This may include any or all days of the week and many different varieties of shifts.

Provides client care consistent with medical plan of care for assigned clients

Client care encompasses the following:

  • Physical assessment, including but not limited to listening to heart, lung, and bowel sounds with a stethoscope, checking incisions, and observing other factors depending on individual client.
  • Receiving and giving verbal reports on each client at the start and end of each clinical experience.
  • Preparing clients for transport to other hospital departments for testing and preparing clients for discharge.
  • Preparing, distributing, and administering medications prescribed by physicians.
  • Charting either handwritten or via data entered into computer.
  • Bathing clients and changing bed linens.
  • Dressing and feeding clients.
  • Accepting and orienting new clients to assigned units.
  • Providing individual client education, in accordance with accepted nursing practice and medical plan of care.
  • Discharge planning: Assessing home and caretaker at home, consulting home care resources, obtaining equipment, consulting dietary, teaching client about discharge medications, obtaining physician approval, and arranging for any laboratory tests.
  • Administering CPR according to the American Heart Association standards (Basic Life Support for the Health Care Provider), to clients in cardiac arrest, on an emergency basis. Will need to have unrestricted movement of both upper and lower extremities, neck, shoulder, back, and hips required to perform this function.
  • Interacting with physicians and other health care professionals regarding clients' conditions.
  • Providing emotional support and client education to clients and families.
  • Performing specialized functions, including responding to audible and visual alarms, wound packing, and interpreting cardiac rhythm strips.
  • Coordinating client care with other hospital departments, including cardiac rehabilitation, physical therapy, dietary, and social services.
  • Demonstrating knowledge and skills necessary in providing appropriate care to the age of the clients served on assigned units, knowing and applying principles of growth and development over the life span, when providing nursing care.
  • Assessing and interpreting age related client data and identifying age specific nursing care requirements for assigned clients.

Essential student nurse functions in the classroom:

  • Recording and preserving pertinent lecture material for future reference
  • Participating in group discussions
  • Answering questions when called upon and presenting brief oral reports
  • Reviewing handout and audio-visual materials
  • Completing written examinations within time limitations imposed by faculty
  • Preparing handwritten and typewritten reports
  • Operating computer terminals and appropriate software

Working conditions:

Watts School of Nursing is a commuter school, requiring transportation to class, labs, and clinical assignments within the Duke University Health System and surrounding communities. Students are responsible for providing/arranging transportation to all clinical environments.

Physical activities required to complete essential student nurse functions:

  • Standing/Walking: Standing and walking is required for the majority of time spent in the clinical area. Standing in one position is required while performing certain aspects of client care. Walking occurs on vinyl, tile, linoleum or carpeted floors.
  • Sitting: Sitting while charting or entering data into computer. May also sit while receiving/giving verbal report at start/end of shift. May also sit during breaks and lunch period. Total sitting is less than two hours for each eight-hour shift, depending on clinical assignment. May also sit in the classroom for several hours per day.
  • Lifting: Regularly lifts medical supplies, medications, client supplies, client charts, CPR equipment and other medical equipment weighing several pounds. Required to assist in lifting and transferring clients of varying weights, and is expected to request needed assistance when lifting, ambulating and repositioning clients. Must be able to reposition, transfer, and ambulate clients safely.
  • Carrying: Frequently carries medical supplies, textbooks, etc. weighing several pounds. Occasionally carries certain heavy medical equipment.
  • Pushing/Pulling: Pushing/pulling several pounds are required when administering client therapy and care, as well as when pushing equipment such as oxygen tanks, monitors, transporting clients in wheelchairs, hospital beds, and stretchers. Pushing required to deliver pressure when administering CPR. Full manual dexterity of both upper extremities required.
  • Climbing: No significant climbing required; may be required to climb steps.
  • Bending: Required when administering client care. Must be able to bend to touch floor to remove environmental hazards.
  • Reaching: Reaching above head required when performing aspects of care such as hanging and adjusting IV bags.
  • Squatting/Kneeling: Required when operating medical equipment and performing aspects of client care.
  • Twisting: Twisting at waist required when bathing clients and performing other procedures.
  • Repetitive Motion of:
    • Hands: Required for grasping and fine manipulation for client care, including preparation and administration of injections.
    • Feet: No repetitive motion of feet is generally required other than for normal walking and standing. Operation of foot control is required when using sink, hospital beds, and other specialized equipment.
  • Driving: Not required. Student nurses are responsible for their own transportation to and from school and affiliated clinical agencies.
  • Speaking: Must be able to clearly speak English to communicate, assess, and educate clients. Must also be able to communicate verbally with physicians and other professionals involved in client care.
  • Hearing: Must have hearing (aid permitted) in order to perform physical assessment, including listening with a stethoscope for bowel sounds, heart, and lung sounds. Must also be able to hear to detect subtle yet critical information regarding client condition including alarms, and to communicate with physicians and other professionals involved with client care both verbally and by telephone. Must also be able to hear lecture presentations.
  • Sight: Must be able to read small print or markings on syringes and measuring devices to give safe care to clients.
  • Depth perception: Required for fine tasks such as administering injections, sterile catheter insertions (urinary, IV), and nasogastric tube insertions.
  • Fine motor skills: Must have fine motor skills of all fingers and be able to grasp and control medical equipment and to perform precise procedures such as sterile dressing change. Must be able to grasp objects such as a pen to prepare handwritten reports.
  • Tactile sensation: Must be able to assess clients through palpation with fingers and hand, must be able to distinguish warm/cold and be able to feel vibrations.
  • Smell: Must have normal sense of smell to detect odors indicating unsafe conditions or changing client status.

Temperament requirements of student nurse:

  • The student must exercise good judgment based on client's test results, instructor input, and nursing assessment in order to provide appropriate nursing care.
  • The student nurse must maintain a professional demeanor and remain visibly calm under a variety of emergency situations. Emotional stability is required when performing under stress.
  • The student nurse must work closely with others and interact with clients in a caring, professional manner to provide emotional support and education.
  • The student nurse learns under variable and constantly changing situations and must be flexible in responding to emergencies and able to prioritize tasks.
  • The student nurse may not pose a direct threat of significant risk to the health and safety of patients and/or others in the clinical area.
  • The student nurse must have the ability to use various medical equipment, supplies, medications, charts, computer terminals and other aides, in performance of duties.

Environmental requirements:

The student nurse must be able to function in a variety of environmental conditions which include biohazards, infectious diseases, electrical hazards associated with client care equipment, working with hands in water, and working with or near the deceased.

Affiliated clinical agencies and the Watts School of Nursing are Latex Safe, not Latex Free, environments.

Adopted from the Shadyside School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA.