Pre-Licensure BSN Technical Standards


Nursing is a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding profession. Nursing education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills and professional attitudes and behaviors. The goal of the College of Nursing Prelicensure Program is to prepare students to think critically and to practice nursing competently and compassionately in rapidly changing practice environments. 

Specific essential abilities or technical standards have been identified by the College of Nursing in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment (ADAAA), and refined using Appendix A of the white paper from Marks & Ailey, 2014. Technical Standards define the observational, communication, cognitive, affective, and physical capabilities deemed essential to complete this program and to perform as a competent practitioner of nursing. Applicants to the College of Nursing Prelicensure BSN must meet the following technical standards and as students, maintain satisfactory demonstration of these standards for progression throughout the program, with or without reasonable accommodation, to successfully complete the nursing program.

Examples are not all-inclusive.

I. Observation

General: Observation requires the use of common sense, as well as the ability to use senses or the functional equivalent to gather appropriate and important information required for learning and utilization in a variety of settings. The applicant/student must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in didactic courses and simulated learning opportunities. Applicants/students must have sufficient capacity to make accurate visual observations and interpret them in the context of laboratory studies, medication administration and patient care activities. Applicants/students must be able to document these observations and maintain accurate records.

Specific examples:

  • Interpret and process information in verbal, written and digital formats.
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to changing environmental cues. 
  • Detect changes in physiological systems.
  • Assess patient changes in mood, activity, cognition, verbal and non-verbal communication.

II. Conceptual-Integrative

General: Applicants/students must have the ability to learn in classroom and clinical settings, be able to find sources of knowledge, and use critical thinking and clinical decision-making skills. The applicant/student must be able to measure and calculate accurately, and analyze, synthesize, and retain complex information in order to problem solve. Applicants/students must be able to use reasoning and sustain attention and memory, gather data, develop plans of action, establish priorities, monitor treatment plans, and comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships.

Specific examples:

  • Acquire and synthesize evidence-based information, problem solve, and critically think to determine the most appropriate intervention or assessment strategy.
  • Use proper judgement in a timely and accurate manner to prioritize needs and anticipate reactions.
  • Measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize data related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
  • Recognize when help is needed and obtain support from appropriate sources to carry out a task.

III. Communication

General: The applicant/student must communicate effectively to elicit information and to translate that information to others. Applicants/students must have the ability to read, write, comprehend, and use the English language to facilitate effective communication with patients, their family members, other professionals in health care settings, and with peers, faculty, and school staff personnel in educational/clinical settings.

Specific examples:

  • Explains treatment procedures and/or initiates health teachings, documents nursing actions and patient responses.
  • Accurately elicit information including a medical history & other information to adequately and effectively evaluate a client or patient’s condition.
  • Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and families.
  • Convey appropriate information to patients and healthcare teams, and teach, direct and counsel a wide variety of individuals.

IV. Motor

General: The applicant/student must be able to perform or assist with general care and emergency interventions of patients, perform nursing and medical procedures safely according to standards of care, and to maintain mental concentration and physical safety. Applicants/students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads, function effectively under stress, and must be able to adapt to changing environments.

Specific examples:

  • Practice and acquire psychomotor skills required to complete expected nursing student procedures safely and effectively (e.g.: manipulating syringes, needles, and other medical supplies and equipment; assist with patient care activities).
  • Elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other assessment techniques.
  • Practice in a safe manner and appropriately provide care in emergencies requiring life support procedures and perform standard precautions.

V. Behavioral-Social

General: Applicants/students must possess the emotional health required for the full use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities in the classroom and in the care of individuals, families, communities and populations, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships. Applicants/students must be able to relate to peers, staff, healthcare professionals, and patients with honesty, integrity, and non-discrimination. Applicants/students must display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical environment.

Specific examples:

  • Be on time for courses and clinical experiences as a professional responsibility.
  • Manage time effectively in order to complete professional and technical responsibilities within time constraints.
  • Uphold professional nursing standards and values related to the student’s scope of practice.
  • Maintain effective, appropriate, and sensitive relationships with individual clients and their families, peers, faculty, staff, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Exercise skills of diplomacy to advocate for patients in need.
  • Possess emotional stability to function under stress and adapt to changing environments within the classroom and practice settings.
  • Demonstrate personal qualities of concern for others, motivation, interest, ethical and moral integrity, and personal accountability.

Reasonable Accommodations

Technological accommodations can be made for some disabilities in certain of these areas, but a student should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner and exercise independent judgment. These technical standards pertain to all student conduct regardless of setting (e.g., classroom/didactic, on-campus visits, off-campus clinical practice experiences, email communication, etc.).

Individuals interested in applying for admission to WSU College of Nursing Prelicensure BSN program are encouraged to consider their possible need for reasonable accommodations as they review these Technical Standards to become familiar with the skills, abilities, and behavioral characteristics required to complete the program. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability.

Reasonable accommodations for classroom, lab and clinical learning will be considered on a case-by-case basis for individuals who meet eligibility under applicable statutes. Any person expecting to need accommodations should request them prior to beginning the program, as some accommodations may not be considered reasonable and may impact an applicant’s ability to complete all components of the program.

For a complete description of the process for requesting disability accommodations, go to the WSU website: How Does the Accommodation Process Work?

Applicants and current students who have questions regarding the technical standards or who believe they may need to request reasonable accommodation(s) in order to meet the standards are encouraged to contact Access Services in the Student Success Center as part of the Division of Student Affairs for WSU Health Sciences in Spokane for Yakima and Spokane students or for Tricities

Policy TitlePL-BSN Technical Standards
Policy Inception Date
Policy Applicable PartyCollege of Nursing Undergraduate Students
Date of Last Change07/28/2023
Responsible Party, Level I (to create and review)Center for Student Excellence
Responsible Party, Level II (to approve)CON Faculty
Responsible Party, Level III (to implement)Center for Student Excellence