Essential Criteria for Nursing

North Carolina’s Nursing Practice Act (August 2009) defines nursing as:

“…a dynamic discipline which includes the assessment, care, counseling, teaching, referment and implementation of prescribed treatment in the maintenance of health, prevention and management of illness, injury or disability or the achievement of a dignified death. It is ministering to and assisting in the provision of sustained, vigilant and continuous care to those acutely or chronically ill; supervising patients during convalescence and rehabilitation; the supportive and restorative care given to maintain the optimum health level of individuals, groups, and communities; the supervision, teaching and evaluation of those who perform or are preparing to perform these functions; and, the administration of nursing programs and nursing services.”

An applicant seeking admission to Southeastern Community College’s nursing program must meet the criteria to deliver patient care safely and effectively care in a life-preserving crisis situation. The skill of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which is needed in many clinical situations, fits the description of a skill needed in a life-preserving crisis situation.

To be admitted to and/or to progress successfully through the nursing curriculum and be able to function safely and effectively as a practicing entry-level nurse after graduation, the individual must be able to perform skills such as CPR correctly. To meet this requirement, the individual must have:

  1. The visual acuity to identify cyanosis and absence of respiratory movement in a patient and to read increments on a glass thermometer and/or a syringe.
  2. The hearing ability to understand the normal speaking voice without viewing the speaker’s face (to ensure that the nurse will be able to attend to a patient’s call for help).
  3. Sufficient physical use of respiratory muscles and of upper and lower extremities to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and/or to transfer a patient in a facility emergency.
  4. Sufficient speaking ability to be able to question the patient about his/her condition and to relay information about the patient verbally to others.
  5. The manual dexterity to draw up solutions in a syringe.
  6. The ability to implement standard precautions (i.e., wear mask, goggles, gloves, gown and other personal protective equipment as necessary)


The practice of nursing involves cognitive, sensory, affective and psychomotor performance requirements. Therefore, the essential eligibility requirements for participants in a nursing program shall be further defined according to the following standards:


The nurse must be able to provide safe, effective nursing care to the public. Nursing students and nursing faculty should possess and be able to demonstrate the following:

  1. Critical Thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment. For example, student must be able to identify cause-effect relationships in clinical situations; collect and analyze data to aid in problem-solving; develop or participate in the development of nursing care plans; and, read and comprehend text, numbers and graphs displayed in print and on a video monitor.
  2. Interpersonal skills sufficient to interact with individuals, families, groups, etc. from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds. For example, student shall establish rapport with clients/patients and healthcare team members.
  3. Communication skills sufficient for interaction with others in verbal and written form. For example: explain treatment procedures; initiate health teaching; document and interpret nursing actions and patient/client responses; and, communicate with faculty members, fellow students, staff, and other healthcare professionals verbally and in a recorded format (writing, typing, graphics, and/or audio/telecommunication)
  4. Mobility sufficient to move from room to room, maneuver in small spaces and stand and walk for extensive periods of time. For example: make frequent trips from workstation to patient’s room; move around in patient’s room, work spaces and treatment areas; and, reach patients lying in hospital beds.
  5. Motor Skills sufficient to provide safe and effective nursing care. For example: calibrate and use equipment; document care; position and move patients/clients; administer cardiopulmonary procedures; and, perform skill procedures.
  6. Hearing sufficient to monitor and assess health needs. For example: hear monitor alarms, emergency signals, auscultatory sounds and cries for help.
  7. Visual Ability sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in nursing care. For example: observe patient/client responses and specimen color.
  8. Tactile Ability sufficient for physical assessment. For example: perform palpation and functions of physical examination and/or those related to therapeutic intervention; insertion of catheters; and, taking pulses.
  9. Weight-Bearing ability to lift and manipulate/move 50 pounds daily. For example: position patients/clients and move equipment.
  10. Cognitive Abilities to be oriented to time, place, and person in addition to organize responsibilities and make decisions. For example: student shall assess patient/client complaints; provide prioritized patient care; and, implement appropriate plans.

All nursing students and nursing faculty should possess the ability to demonstrate the essential criteria, functions and abilities.


If a student believes that he or she cannot meet one or more of the standards without accommodations or modifications, the college must determine, on an individual basis, whether or not the necessary accommodations or modifications can be reasonably made.