Nursing Program Essential Abilities & ADA Requirements | Thomas Nelson Community College

Nursing Program Essential Abilities & ADA Requirements

Title 11 of the ADA prohibits discrimination against a "qualified individual with a disability." This term is defined as an individual with a disability who can perform the "essential functions" of a position, with or without reasonable accommodation.

In order for a student with a disability to be admitted to the Thomas Nelson Community College Nursing Program, the student must:

  1. meet the prerequisite admission standards as defined in the college catalog.
  2. perform the essential functions for participation in the nursing program with or without reasonable accommodation.

Generally, the term essential functions includes those fundamental duties that the individual who holds the position must be able to perform, either unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is "any change in the student environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal opportunities." In order to be considered for appropriate accommodations the student must make a request with Disabled Student Services (Room 323 Hastings Hall).  Since the ADA expressly prohibits inquiries regarding disabilities, the responsibility of disclosure is borne by the individual having the disability.

The reasonableness of an accommodation is determined on a case by case basis. The accommodation offered does not have to be the "best available" but needs to be sufficient to meet the needs of the individual being accommodated. The nursing faculty has determined that to successfully complete the classroom and clinical components of the Thomas Nelson Community College Nursing Program, the student must be able to perform defined essential functions. These essential functions include but are not limited to the following:


Regular classroom and clinical attendance as defined by the nursing department student policies.

Essential Mental Abilities

  1. Maintain reality orientation accompanied by short and long term memory.
  2. Adapt to school and clinical environment.
  3. Follow rules and instructions.
  4. Assimilate and apply knowledge acquired through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and readings.
  5. Comprehend and apply basic mathematical skills.
  6. Demonstrate safe nursing practice within the defined clinical time period.
  7. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by the comprehension and application of abstract concepts.
  8. Adhere to the ethical/legal standards of nursing practice.

Essential Communication Skills

  1. Speak clearly in order to communicate with patients, families, health care team members, peers and faculty.
  2. Interact appropriately and communicate effectively with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
  3. Communicate and organize thoughts in order to prepare written documents.
  4. Prepare written documents that are correct in style, grammar and mechanics.

Essential Physical Abilities

  1. Stand and walk for six to eight hours/day.
  2. Walk for prolonged periods from one area to another over an eight hour period.
  3. Bend, squat and kneel.
  4. Assist in lifting or moving patients of all age groups and weights.
  5. Perform CPR, i.e., move above patient to compress chest and manually ventilate patient.
  6. Work with arms fully extended overhead.
  7. Use hands for grasping, pushing, pulling, and fine manipulation.
  8. Demonstrate eye/hand coordination for manipulation of equipment, i.e., syringes, procedures, etc.

Essential Sensory Abilities

  1. Possess tactile ability to differentiate changes in sensation.
  2. Possess tactile ability sufficient for physical assessment.
  3. Possess auditory acuity to note slight changes in the patients condition, i.e. lung sounds, etc.
  4. Possess auditory acuity to hear patient calls for assistance without facing the patient.
  5. Possess auditory acuity to interpret various equipment signals and use the telephone.
  6. Possess visual acuity to read and distinguish colors, to read handwritten orders, and other handwritten and printed data.
  7. Possess visual acuity to clearly view monitors and scales in order to correctly interpret data.
  8. Possess olfactory ability sufficient to detect differences in odor.