The purpose of the Nursing Program is to provide a curriculum that prepares entry-level professional nurses to practice in a variety of settings. The Polk State College faculty members are committed to the professional development of the student, the support of healthcare within the community, and the enhancement of the nursing profession.
Two program tracks are offered for nursing students. The Generic Track is for individuals without a current healthcare license. The Transition Track is for individuals holding a current license or certificate: as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Paramedic, Respiratory Therapist, or qualified military medic. Students who qualify for the Transition Track by virtue of previous licensure are not required to enroll in the accelerated Transition Track; they may choose to apply for the slower-paced Generic Track. The College seeks to provide as many qualified graduates as feasible, subject to the availability of clinical and academic resources, the existence of community need, and the number of qualified applicants.
Nursing is a limited-admission program, and each applicant must first be admitted to the College and meet pre-admission requirements. Applicants with the best qualifications (according to the selection criteria) who meet and comply with all other admission policies, procedures, and requirements are eligible to apply for admission to the program. The College reserves the right to change program and admission requirements as need dictates.
As part of the program, students are assigned to clinical experiences in various healthcare facilities in Polk County, and to a limited extent, facilities in neighboring counties. Assignment to a specific facility or shift cannot be guaranteed. Thus, students need individual and dependable transportation. For the required clinical experiences, students may be assigned to a day shift (6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), or evening shift (1:00/2:30 p.m. to 9:30/11:00 p.m.), or a combination thereof, throughout the week or on weekends. Students are expected to acquire many skills and competencies in the program, which necessitates individual time spent in the on-campus nursing laboratory outside of regular class hours. For most courses, the minimum requirement is two hours in the nursing laboratory per week on a non-class day. Students are also advised that assignments for clinical days, times, and facilities are made by the nursing faculty, and flexibility is expected. Nursing classes and the associated clinical activities usually demand a minimum of two days per week. Study time and practice time necessary to be successful are at least equivalent to the class and clinical requirements. Students interested in the program are encouraged to consider completing all of the non-nursing course requirements prior to application.
Graduates of the Polk State Nursing Program are awarded the Associate in Science in Nursing degree and are eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination-RN to become a licensed registered nurse. Completing the program and passing the licensing exam does not guarantee a license. Each state sets the requirements of licensure in that state. Prospective students should be aware that a Social Security Number is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, which is the licensing authority for healthcare licenses in Florida.
Program Mission and Outcomes
The Nursing Program fulfills responsibilities to the students, the broader community, and the nursing profession by:
- Fostering and developing creative, innovative, and positive learning experiences that support the profession's defined standards of care.
- Providing faculty who serve as role models and mentors for the students, the community, and the profession.
- Creating a learning environment in which students are provided the opportunity to develop the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills and professional behaviors necessary to assume the role of a professional nurse, as well as the demeanor required for the job.
At the completion of this program, the graduate is expected to:
- Function effectively as a provider of care who uses the processes of critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and the nursing process to make clinical judgements that provide safe and competent evidenced-based care across healthcare settings.
- Function effectively as a coordinator of care who demonstrates leadership and uses effective delegation and management strategies to promote positive patient outcomes.
- Function effectively as a member within the discipline of nursing who practices with integrity within the ethical, legal, and regulatory framework of professional nursing and models professional behavior including advocacy for the healthcare organization and the profession.
- Interact with others as an effective, collaborative team member in providing holistic care that respects the patient as a unique human being who is a member of a family, a community, and a society.
- Exhibit competent clinical decision making and safe performance of skills in implementing a patient-centered plan of care directed toward restoring, maintaining, or promoting the patient's optimal health status.
- Serve as an advocate for patients and families in promoting actions that provide for physical, psychological, sociological, cultural, and spiritual comfort and safety.
- Exhibit a spirit of inquiry that promotes participation in evidence-based practices, quality improvement processes, and research activities leading to quality patient outcomes and system effectiveness.
The Polk State College Nursing Program is approved by the Florida Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
3343 Peachtree Road, Suite 850
Atlanta, GA 30326
Florida Nursing Students Association (FNSA)
The FNSA is a pre-professional student organization that is affiliated with the National Student Nurse Association. Students interested in nursing as a career, but not yet admitted to the Nursing Program, are eligible and encouraged to join the association after successfully completing nine credit hours of program requirements. For further information, students may contact the FNSA Advisor Ms. Philips at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Schaak at email@example.com.
The Transition Track admits only once a year. Applications must be submitted to the Polk State College Admissions Office during the application period, May 15 to May 31, for an August admission date. Applications are not available until the application period. During this period, the applications will be available on the Nursing Program website with a link provided at www.polk.edu/nursing. All transcripts, required test scores, and any other documentation required in the admissions process must be on file at the time of the application for it to be considered complete and eligible for consideration. Students should have prerequisite courses completed or be enrolled in final prerequisite course(s) when applying. Anyone who applies but is not accepted for admission must reapply for consideration during future application periods. There is no waiting list.
The Transition Track is an advanced, accelerated option. Students with significant work and/or family responsibilities, or those who do not have recent acute care experience, are encouraged to consider application for the Generic Track of the Nursing Program. To be considered as an applicant for the Generic Track, individuals must complete an application for that option in addition to, or in lieu of, the application for the Transition Track. A student admitted into the Transition Track must remain in the Transition Track unless approved by the Director of Nursing.
The following prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better:
Mathematics (One Course)
Students are strongly encouraged to complete the additional courses listed below prior to program admission. The courses must be completed with a grade of C or better:
Note: Prerequisites to a program and admission to a program can change. Students not yet admitted may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to admission to the program.
The seven-year limit on science courses that is a requirement of the Generic Option is waived for licensed/certified healthcare workers who have been actively working in the healthcare field. This waiver is in place whether the individual is applying for admission to the Transition Option or the Generic Option.
An applicant to the Transition Option must provide a copy of his or her unrestricted healthcare license or certificate in one of the approved fields with the completed Nursing Program Application. Students must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 at the time of admission for either program option.
Students must achieve a satisfactory score on all tests required for admission. Currently the Department requires the Test of Essential Academic Skills (ATITEAS) with a minimum score of 70 required for application for admission. The Department reserves the right to change this requirement as need dictates.
The Nursing Selection Committee considers all eligible applicants and selects the most qualified applicants for admission based on a point system. This system considers factors such as scores on any required admission testing, overall cumulative GPA and cumulative GPA in program courses, and obtainment of a previous college degree at the time of application. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive; Polk State College reserves the right to make changes in the admission criteria as circumstances require. Every reasonable effort is made to communicate changes in the program to interested students. Final acceptance and enrollment is based on the completion (with a grade of C or better) of required prerequisite courses that are in progress at the time of application, and the completion of other requirements listed below.
Transfer Students from Other Nursing Programs
Once a student has started clinical nursing courses, it is difficult to transfer because of differences in placement of content and clinical experiences in nursing programs. A student who has started nursing classes at another institution and requests transfer into the Polk State College Nursing Program, whether as an advanced-standing student or a new student, must be in good academic standing in the nursing program from which transfer is desired and must be eligible to continue in that program. A student who is not eligible to continue in the nursing program where he or she is enrolled is held to the same academic standards and policies as a Polk State nursing student who is deemed ineligible to continue in the program.
Transfers are accepted on the basis of space availability as determined by the Program Director. Students are required to make an appointment with the Director as the first step in the transfer process. Course documents (or other materials) that outline in detail the content of courses completed must be available for the Director's review to determine potential appropriate placement. Credit for nursing courses at Polk State can only be granted if it can be determinded that the content and clinical experiences in completed courses at another institution equates to the courses at Polk State. Competency testing may be required for demonstration of proficiency in concepts and skills equivalent to the standards of Polk State College. Transfer students must meet all of the same requirements as other Polk State College students.
Additional Program Requirements
The listed items are not part of the application process but are required after a student is notified of acceptance to the program. These requirements must be completed (and current) in order to finalize the admission process and remain enrolled in the program.
1. Completion of the physical examination and evaluation of essential functions.
2. Completion of immunizations and submission of communicable disease screenings.
3. Attainment a current American Heart Association (or similar provider) CPR Certification for Healthcare Providers.
4. Completion of a drug screening by a department-approved vendor.
5. Completion of fingerprinting and a national background check by a department-approved vendor within no more than one year of enrollment.
6. Completion of the Nursing Program Orientation.
Applicants with felony charges and selected misdemeanor charges, or those with positive drug screenings, may be denied enrollment in nursing courses. Students must be free of offenses that would potentially disqualify them from working in a healthcare environment (Florida Statutes 456.0635, 435.04, and 316.193). Pursuant to Section 456.0635, Florida Statutes, the Florida Board of Nursing shall refuse to issue a license, certification, or registration and shall refuse to admit a candidate for examination if the applicant has:
- Been convicted, plead guilty, or plead nolo contender (no contest) to a felony violation, regardless of adjudication, of Chapters 409, 817, or 893 of the Florida Statutes; 21 U.S.C. SS 801-970; or 42 U.S.C. SS 1395-1396, unless the sentence and any probation or pleas ended more than 5-15 years prior to the application (specific required lengths are dependent upon the specific charge).
- Been terminated for cause from the Florida Medicaid Program, unless the applicant has been in good standing for the most recent five years.
- Been terminated for cause by any other state Medicaid Program or the Medicare Program, unless the termination was at least 20 years prior to the date of the application and the applicant has been in good standing with the program for the most recent five years.
Admission into the clinical portion of the Nursing Program is at the discretion of the clinical agencies, and these agencies may require more stringent limitations than those outlined above; therefore, applicants who are not acceptable to the clinical agencies will be denied enrollment in Nursing Program courses. Hospitals may require students' Social Security numbers, as well as copies of criminal history background reports, immunization records, and other such data before accepting students for clinical experiences.
Note: Once admitted to the Nursing Program, there are program restrictions and requirements that must be met for the student to remain enrolled in the program. Admitted students should see the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Policy Manual for details.
Potential applicants for admission should be aware that there are health requirements for admission and continued enrollment in the program. Students who do not already have the required immunizations are encouraged to get these early so as to avoid a large financial burden at the time of admission. The requirements are listed below. Failure to show appropriate documentation that these health requirements have been met will result in denial of admission or dismissal from the program.
- Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) vaccination: Once received, this immunization is good for 10 years. Students should make sure the vaccine received contains Pertussis; a normal Tetanus immunization given to adults does not contain Pertussis. If a previous Tetanus immunization was completed within the 10-year window and at least two years prior, the Tdap can be received. If a Tetanus shot was received within the past two years, reimmunization with Tetanus containing Pertussis cannot be given. Students must contact the Program Director regarding special clinical restrictions in this situation.
- MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccination: Individuals born before 1957 are required to have physician-documented evidence of disease or an MMR titer to verify immunity. Individuals born after 1957 must have documentation of receiving MMR immunizations (a two-step process), and if that cannot be verified, then the MMR titer must be done. If the titer is negative, the immunizations must be received. Once completed, additional vaccinations or titers are not needed.
- PPD Tuberculosis skin test: If an individual has never had a PPD test or if it has been more than a year since a PPD has been done, the initial testing is a two-step process, with two tests one to three weeks apart. After the initial two-step PPD, a single PPD is required annually. The student must always maintain a current PPD to be allowed to participate in clinical experiences. Individuals who have had a positive PPD must have documentation of a negative chest x-ray within the past year, followed by continued annual screening with completion of a Health Questionnaire provided by the Department.
- Hepatitis B vaccination: This immunization is not required, but is strongly encouraged. It is a three-step process. Following the third injection, a titer for Hepatitis B surface antibody is required to verify immunity. The titer is a one-time procedure. Because of the time required to complete the series, students can complete a form declining this immunization which will make them compliant with the clinical requirements.
- Hepatitis B surface antigen: This is a titer which must be done no more than 6 months prior to admission. Individuals who test positive must meet with the Nursing Director to discuss any further requirements.
- Hepatitis C test: A titer is required no more than one year prior to admission. This is a one-time procedure. Individuals who test positive must meet with the Nursing Director to discuss any further requirements.
- Varicella (Chicken Pox) test: A titer is required within 6 months of admission. This is a one-time procedure. If the titer is negative, a Varicella immunization is required.
- Influenza Vaccination: An annual influenza immunization is required. This immunization is not done until a designated time in the year. Students accepted for admission will be given information as to when to get the immunization.
- Physical Examination: Completion of a health examination is required within six months prior to admission. The examination must be documented on the Physical Examination Form provided by the Department of Nursing.
In addition to the immunization requirements, potential applicants should be aware that nursing is a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding profession. In order to be admitted and retained in the program, all applicants and students must be able to demonstrate the ability to independently perform the following essential cognitive, affective, and psychomotor functions expected during nursing performance. These functions are:
- Sufficient visual acuity, for accurate preparation and administration of medications, for reading written instructions, and for the observations and skills necessary for safe patient assessment and nursing care.
- Sufficient auditory perception to receive verbal communication from patients and members of the health team, including occurrences where face masks are worn by personnel (which precludes lip reading), and to assess health needs of people through the use of monitoring devices such as cardiac monitors, stethoscopes, infusion pumps, fire alarms, and other equipment with alarms or auditory signals.
- Sufficient gross and fine motor coordination to respond promptly and to implement the skills required in meeting health needs, including the manipulation of equipment and supplies.
- Sufficient communication skills in speech, reading, and writing in the English language to interact effectively and safely with individuals, and to communicate patient needs promptly as may be necessary in rendering patient care.
- Sufficient tactile ability to conduct physical assessments, to distinguish significant temperature differences, and to determine the safe use of objects in a person's environment.
- Sufficient physical abilities to quickly move from room to room, to maneuver in small spaces and in spaces containing numerous pieces of patient care equipment, and to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-saving skills in typical patient care situations.
- Sufficient interpersonal abilities to interact therapeutically and professionally with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds, as well as with individuals with emotional or psychological illnesses.
- Sufficient coping and communication skills to handle stressful situations in a calm and professional manner.
- Sufficient intellectual and critical-thinking skills to make safe and rapid clinical decisions, identify cause and effect relationships, and to develop safe and effective nursing care plans.
- Sufficient stamina to provide patient care and related responsibilities for extended periods of time (8-12 hours or more) that include prolonged periods of standing or walking.
- Sufficient ability to quickly and safely implement written or verbal medical and nursing plans of care.
- Sufficient ability to effectively handle multiple priorities in a stressful situation.
The approximate cost of the Transition Option of the Nursing Program is $13,000. This includes everything from the prerequisite courses and lab fees, to program courses, uniforms, physical examinations, immunizations, nursing course materials, application for licensure, and the Polk State College Nursing Pin, which is awarded upon successful completion of the program and graduation. This figure does not include the cost of any Developmental Education courses.
Students are strongly encouraged to investigate financial aid eligibility (e.g., Pell grants, scholarships, etc.) at the time of application to the College and to the program. Students who wait until the time of registration or until acceptance to the program are generally too late to qualify for funds for that term. Students need to be aware of financial aid limitations regarding minimum credit hours taken per term so that plans can be made to accommodate any adjusted financial resources. Information regarding assistance is available through the Financial Aid Office. In addition to the tuition and fees, there are additional expenses such as textbooks, other course materials, and uniforms, which may not be covered by financial aid.
Graduates of the Nursing Program are awarded the Associate in Science in Nursing degree and are eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination-RN to become a licensed registered nurse. The Florida Board of Nursing has the authority to deny licensure as a registered professional nurse to applicants with a conviction, a plea of no-contest, or guilty plea, regardless of adjudication, for any offense other than a minor traffic violation. Applicants for admission with any record of a criminal charge who are accepted for admission must report this information to the Program Director in order to finalize acceptance. Any charges that arise after admission to the program must also be reported to the Program Director. Prospective students should be aware that a Social Security number (SSN) is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, which is the licensing authority for healthcare licenses in Florida.