Essential Functions: Associate Degree Nursing

During the course of the Associate Degree Nursing program, students must demonstrate the ability to perform the functions listed below safely, reliably, and efficiently within the scope of practice as defined by the Board of Nursing.

Disability Act Statement: Madison College complies with all provisions of the American with Disabilities Act and makes reasonable accommodations upon request for qualified individuals. If you believe you may need accommodations to assist you in performing the functions that follow, please contact the Disability Resources Services (DRS) office at (608) 246-6716 or (800) 322-6282 , ext. 6716 (deaf students via Relay 711) or email.

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Move within confined spaces
  • Maintain balance in multiple positions
  • Reach above shoulders (e.g., IV poles)
  • Reach below waist (e.g., plug electrical appliance into wall outlet)
  • Reach out front

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Pick up objects with hands
  • Grasp small objects with hands (e.g., IV tubing, pencil)
  • Write with pen or pencil
  • Key/type (e.g., use a computer)
  • Pinch/pick or otherwise work with fingers (e.g., manipulate a syringe)
  • Twist (e.g., turn objects/knobs using hands)
  • Squeeze with finger (e.g., eye dropper)

Physical Endurance:

  • Stand (e.g., at client side during surgical or therapeutic procedures)
  • Sustain repetitive movements (e.g., CPR)
  • Maintain physical tolerance (e.g., work on your feet a minimum of 8 hours)

Physical Strength:

  • Push and pull 50 pounds (e.g., position clients, move equipment)
  • Support 50 pounds of weight (e.g., ambulate client)
  • Lift 50 pounds (e.g., pick up a child, transfer client, bend to lift an infant or child)
  • Carry equipment/supplies
  • Use upper body strength (e.g., perform CPR, physically restrain a client)
  • Squeeze with hands (e.g., operate fire extinguisher)


  • Twist
  • Bend
  • Stoop/squat
  • Move quickly (e.g., response to an emergency)
  • Climb stairs
  • Walk


  • Hear normal speaking-level sounds (e.g., person-to-person report)
  • Hear faint voices
  • Hear faint body sounds (e.g., blood pressure sounds, assess placement of tubes)
  • Hear in situations when not able to see lips (e.g., when masks are used)
  • Hear auditory alarms (e.g., monitors, fire alarms, call bells)


  • See objects up to 20 inches away (e.g., information on computer screen, skin conditions)
  • See objects up to 30 feet away (e.g., client in room)
  • Use depth perception
  • Use peripheral vision
  • Distinguish color and color intensity (e.g., color codes on supplies, flushed skin/paleness)


  • Feel vibrations (e.g., palpate pulses)
  • Detect temperature (e.g., skin, solutions)
  • Feel differences in surface characteristics (e.g., skin turgor, rashes)
  • Feel differences in sizes, shapes (e.g., palpate vein, identify body landmarks)
  • Detect environmental temperature


  • Detect odors (e.g., foul smelling drainage, alcohol breath, smoke, gases or noxious smells)


  • Tolerance to allergens such as latex
  • Tolerance to strong soaps
  • Tolerance to strong odors


  • Read and understand written documents (e.g., flow sheets, charts, graphs)
  • Read digital displays


  • Comprehend graphic trends
  • Calibrate equipment
  • Convert numbers to and from Metric System (e.g., dosages)
  • Tell time
  • Measure time (e.g., count duration of contractions, CPR)
  • Count rates (e.g., drips/minute, pulse)
  • Read measurement marks (e.g., measurement tapes, scales)
  • Add, subtract, multiply, and/or divide whole numbers
  • Compute fractions and decimals (e.g., medication dosages)
  • Document numbers in records

Emotional Stability:

  • Establish therapeutic boundaries
  • Provide client with emotional support
  • Adapt to changing environment/stress
  • Deal with the unexpected (e.g., client condition, crisis)
  • Focus attention on task
  • Cope with own emotions
  • Perform multiple responsibilities concurrently
  • Cope with strong emotions in others (e.g., grief)

Analytical Thinking:

  • Transfer knowledge from one situation to another
  • Process information from multiple sources
  • Analyze and interpret abstract and concrete data
  • Evaluate outcomes
  • Problem solve
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Use long-term memory
  • Use short-term memory

Critical Thinking:

  • Identify cause-effect relationships                   
  • Plan/control activities for others*
  • Synthesize knowledge and skills
  • Sequence information
  • Make decisions independently*
  • Adapt decision based on new information

Interpersonal Skills:

  • Establish rapport with individuals, families and groups
  • Respect/value cultural differences
  • Negotiate interpersonal conflict

Communication Skills:

  • Teach (e.g., client/family about health care)
  • Influence people
  • Direct/manage/delegate activities of others*
  • Speak English
  • Write English
  • Listen/comprehend written/spoken word
  • Collaborate with others (e.g., health care workers, peers)
  • Manage information

July 2013