Functional Abilities

From: Yocum, C. (1996). Validation study: Functional abilities essential for nursing practice. National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.

Click here to view the Functional Abilities Policy.

Gross Motor Skills

  • Move within confined spaces
  • Sit and maintain balance
  • Stand and maintain balance
  • Reach above shoulders (e.g., IV poles)
  • Reach below waist (e.g., plug electrical appliance into wall outlets)

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 procedure)
  • Sustain repetitive movements (e.g., CPR)
  • Maintain physical tolerance (e.g., work entire shift)
  • Push and pull 25 pounds (e.g., position clients)
  • Support 25 pounds of weight (e.g., ambulate client)
  • Lift 25 pounds (e.g., pick up a child, transfer client)
  • Move light objects weighing up to 10 pounds (e.g., IV poles)
  • Move heavy objects weighing from 11 to 25 pounds
  • Use upper body strength (e.g., perform CPR)
  • Squeeze with hands (e.g., operate fire extinguisher)

Mobility

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

Hearing

  • 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)

Visual

  • See objects up to 20 inches away (e.g., information on a computer screen, skin conditions)
  • See objects up to 20 feet away (e.g.. client in a room)
  • See objects more than 20 feet away (e.g., client at end of hall)
  • Use depth perception
  • Use peripheral vision
  • Distinguish color (e.g., color codes on supplies, charts, bed)
  • Distinguish color intensity (e.g., flushed skin, skin paleness)
  • Visual acuity to read calibrations on 1 ml syringe
  • Comprehends spatial relationships adequate to properly administer injections, start intravenous lines, or assess wounds of varying depths

Tactile

  • Ability to feel pulses, temperature, palpate veins, etc.

Smell

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

Arithmetic Competence

  • Read and understand columns of writing (flow sheet, charts
  • Read digital displays
  • Read graphic printouts (e.g., EKG)
  • Calibrate equipment
  • Convert numbers to and/or from the Metric System
  • Read graphs (e.g., vital sign sheets)
  • Measure time (e.g., count duration of contractions, etc.)
  • Count rates (e.g., drips/minute, pulse)
  • Use measuring tools (e.g., thermometer)
  • Read measurement marks (e.g., measurement tapes, scales, etc.)
  • Add, subtract, multiply, and/or divide whole numbers  and fractions

Emotional Stability

  • Establish therapeutic boundaries
  • Provide client with emotional support
  • Adapt to changing environment/stress
  • Deal with the unexpected (e.g., client going bad, crisis)
  • Focus attention on task, including in distracting/chaotic environment
  • Monitor own emotions
  • Perform multiple responsibilities concurrently

Analytical Thinking

  • Transfer knowledge from one situation to another
  • Process information
  • Evaluate outcomes
  • Problem solve
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Use long term and short term memory

Critical Thinking

  • Identify cause-effect relationships
  • Plan/control activities for others
  • Synthesize knowledge and skills
  • Sequence information 

Interpersonal Skills

  • Negotiate conflict
  • Respect differences in clients
  • Establish rapport with clients and co-workers
  • Teach (e.g., client/family about health care)
  • Explain procedures
  • Give oral reports (e.g., report on client's condition to others)
  • Convey information through writing (e.g., progress notes)

Revised March 28, 2011.