The Nursing Program prepares students to be entry-level clinical generalists capable of providing nursing care in a variety of clinical settings to patients of diverse backgrounds throughout the lifespan. A graduate of the Polk State Nursing Program is awarded the Associate in Science (AS) in Nursing degree and is eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse. Completing the program and passing the licensure exam does not guarantee a license; each state sets the requirements of licensure. A Social Security Number is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, the state's healthcare licensing authority. Additionally, graduates of the program are eligible to apply to Polk State's RN-to-BSN Program to complete the nursing baccalaureate requirement mandated by most employers.
Nursing is a limited-admission program. Applicants must first be admitted to the College and meet pre-admission requirements. Those meeting the admission criteria are eligible to apply. The College reserves the right to change program and admission requirements as needs dictate. 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.
There are two program tracks offered for nursing students. The Generic Track is for an individual without a current healthcare license. The Transition Track is for the individual who holds a current license or certificate as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Paramedic, or Respiratory Therapist, or who is a qualified military medic (i.e., as verified by Department of Defense Form 214: Member 4 Copy).
Classes and clinical coursework may be presented via face-to-face or online format (or any combination thereof, as need demands). The student must have access to a computer with a camera or webcam and a stable Internet connection to participate in online activities. Some activities, such as online testing, also require a private space in which to work.
As part of the program, students are assigned to clinical facilities across Polk County and closely surrounding regions. Assignment to a specific facility or shift cannot be guaranteed; therefore, each student needs individual and dependable transportation. Required clinical experiences may consist of a day shift (usually 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), or evening shift (usually 1:00/2:30 p.m. to 9:30/11:00 p.m.), or a combination thereof, throughout the week or on weekends.
The student is expected to acquire many skills and competencies in the program; this 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 non-class days.
Assignments for clinical days, times, and facilities are made by the Nursing faculty, and each program participant is expected to be flexible. Nursing classes and the associated clinical activities usually demand a minimum of three full days per week. Study time and practice time necessary to be successful are at least equivalent to the class and clinical requirements. A student interested in the program is encouraged to consider completing all non-nursing course requirements prior to application (i.e., all program-related General Education courses).
Program Mission and Outcomes
The Nursing Program fulfills responsibilities to 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 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, including professional behaviors, necessary to assume the role of professional nurse, as well as the demeanor required of the job.
At the completion of this program, the graduate is expected to:
- Function effectively as a provider of care who uses critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and the nursing process to make clinical judgments 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 who 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, the community, and society.
- Exhibit competent clinical decision making and safe skill performance 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 physical, psychological, sociological, cultural, and spiritual comfort and safety.
- Exhibit a spirit of inquiry by utilizing evidence-based practice, 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)
3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400
Atlanta, GA 30326
Florida Nursing Students Association (FNSA)
The Florida Nursing Students Association (FNSA) is a pre-professional student organization that is affiliated with the National Student Nurses' Association (NSNA). A student who is interested in nursing as a career, but who is not yet admitted to the Nursing Program, is eligible and encouraged to join the association after successfully completing nine credit hours of program requirements. For further information, a student may contact an FNSA Advisor (i.e., Professor Ford at: email@example.com or Professor Capper at: firstname.lastname@example.org).
In addition to the general requirements for Polk State College, the student must complete the following admission criteria at the time of application to the program:
- Submit a completed application to the Nursing Department during the application window.
- Complete the required Assessment Technologies Institute--Test of Essential Academic Skills (ATI-TEAS) with a score of 70 or above.
- Maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5.
- Complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of C or better (or be enrolled in the last few prerequisite courses and successfully finish these prior to the start of the first Nursing Program course). (Note: Prerequisite courses must be less than seven years old unless the student has maintained current experience in a qualified healthcare field. Any exceptions to this requirement must be approved by the Nursing Program Director.)
Applications are not available until an application period opens (May 15 to May 31 for the August class, and August 15 to August 31 for the January class). During this time, applications are available on the Nursing Program website via a link (www.polk.edu/nursing). All transcripts, test scores, and any other documentation required in the admissions process must be on file at the time of submission for the application to be considered complete and eligible for consideration.
Anyone who applies but is not accepted for admission must reapply for consideration during a future application period. There is no waiting list. A student should complete all prerequisite courses before applying (or be enrolled in any final prerequisite course(s)).
The following prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better:
Mathematics (One Course)
The student is strongly encouraged to complete the additional courses listed below prior to program admission. These courses must be completed with a grade of C or better:
Note: Prerequisite courses and courses that can be taken prior to admission to a program can change. A student who is not yet admitted may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to admission to the program. All required science courses in this option must have been completed within seven years of the time of application and acceptance to the program.
Exceptions to this policy can be granted only by the Nursing Program Director and are based on an individual's education and experience. Each student must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of a 2.5 at the time of application for admission to either program option.
The student must achieve a satisfactory score on all tests required for admission. Currently the Department requires a minimum score of 70 on the Assessment Technologies Institute--Test of Essential Academic Skills (ATI- TEAS) 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, cumulative GPA in program-required courses, prior obtainment of a college degree, and former military service with an honorable discharge (i.e., as verified by Department of Defense Form 214: Member 4 Copy). 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 are based on completion (i.e., 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 as 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 various 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 Program student who is deemed ineligible to continue.
A transfer student may be accepted based on space availability (as determined by the Program Director). The student is 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 determined that the content and clinical experiences in completed courses at another institution equate 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. A transfer student must meet the same requirements as any other Polk State College student.
Additional Program Requirements
These listed items are not part of the application process but are required after a student is notified of program acceptance. These requirements must be completed (and current) to finalize the admission process and remain enrolled in the program.
- Completion of the physical examination and an evaluation of essential functions.
- Completion of immunizations and submission of communicable disease screenings.
- Attainment a current American Heart Association (or similar provider) CPR Certification for Healthcare Providers.
- Completion of a drug screening by a department-approved vendor.
- Completion of fingerprinting and a national background check by a department-approved vendor within no more than one year of program enrollment.
- Completion of the Nursing Program Orientation.
An applicant with a felony charge or selected misdemeanor charge(s), or an individual with a positive drug screening may be denied enrollment in Nursing Program courses. The student must be free of any offenses that would potentially disqualify an individual from working in a healthcare environment (cf., Florida Statutes Sections 456.0635, 435.04, and 316.193). Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 456.0635, the Florida Board of Nursing shall refuse to issue a license, certification, or registration and does not 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 Florida Statutes Chapters 409, 817, or 893; United States Code (USC) Title 21 Sections 801-970; or USC Title 42 Sections 1395-1396, unless the sentence and any probation or pleas ended more than 5-15 years prior to the application. (Note: 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 program's clinical agencies, and these agencies may require more stringent limitations than those outlined above. An applicant who is not acceptable to the program's clinical agencies is denied enrollment in Nursing Program courses. Clinical facilities may require a student to provide a Social Security Number as well as a copy of the criminal history background report, immunization record, and other such data before accepting the individual 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. Each admitted student should review the Associate in Science in Nursing Program Policy Manual for details.
There are specific health requirements for admission and continued enrollment in the program. A student who does not already have the required immunizations is encouraged to get these early to avoid a large financial burden at the time of admission. The requirements are listed below. Failure to show appropriate documentation of these health requirements results in denial of admission or dismissal from the program:
- Tdap Vaccination (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis): Once received, this immunization is good for 10 years. The student should make sure the vaccine received contains protection from Pertussis (i.e., whooping cough); a normal Tetanus immunization given to adults does not contain Pertussis. If a previous Tetanus immunization has been completed within the 10-year window and at least two years prior, the Tdap can be received. If a Tetanus shot has been received within the past two years, re-immunization with Tetanus containing Pertussis cannot be given. The student must contact the Nursing Program Director regarding special clinical restrictions in this situation.
- MMR Vaccination (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella): Any individual born before 1957 is required to have physician-documented evidence of disease or an MMR titer to verify immunity. Any individual born after 1957 must have documentation of having received MMR immunization (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 and immunity is verified, additional vaccinations or titers are not needed.
- PPD (Tuberculosis Skin Test): If an individual has never had a PPD or if it has been more than a year since a PPD has been completed, the initial testing is a two-step process with two tests performed one to three weeks apart. After the initial two-step PPD, a single PPD is required annually. The student must maintain a current PPD status to be allowed to participate in clinical experiences. An individual who has had a positive PPD must have documentation of a negative chest x- ray within the past year, followed by continued annual screenings with completion of the 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 vaccination series, a student can complete a form declining this immunization to be compliant with the clinical requirements, while also pursuing the steps required to be immunized.
- Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test: This is a titer that must be done no more than six months prior to admission. An individual who tests positive must meet with the Nursing Program Director to discuss any further requirements.
- Hepatitis C Titer: This test is required no more than six months prior to admission. This is a one-time procedure. Any individual who tests positive must meet with the Nursing Program Director to discuss any further requirements.
- Varicella Titer: This test is required and is a one-time procedure. If the titer is negative, a Varicella immunization is required.
- Influenza Vaccination: An influenza vaccination is required annually. This immunization is not done until a designated time during the year. Each student accepted for admission is given information as to when to get this immunization.
- Physical Examination: Completion of a health examination is required no more than six months prior to admission. The examination must be documented on the Nursing Program Physical Exam Form.
In addition to the immunization requirements, a potential applicant should be aware that nursing is a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding profession. To be admitted and retained in the program, the student must be able to demonstrate the ability to independently perform (with appropriate accommodations, as needed) the following essential cognitive, affective, and psychomotor functions as expected during nursing duties. Further information regarding these expectations is available from the Nursing Program Director.
The Nursing Program student must have:
- 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 preclude 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 speech, reading, and writing skills as necessary for competent and efficient communication 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 ability to quickly move from room to room, to maneuver in small spaces and within 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 (e.g., 8-12 hours or more), including 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 Nursing Program is $14,000. This includes prerequisite courses, lab fees, program courses, uniforms, physical examinations, immunizations, nursing course materials, licensure application, and the Polk State College Nursing Pin (awarded upon successful completion of the program and graduation). This figure does not include the cost of any Developmental Education courses.
The student is strongly encouraged to investigate financial aid eligibility (e.g., Pell grants, scholarships) at the time of application to the College and to the program. If the student waits until the time of registration or until acceptance into the program, it is generally too late to qualify for funds for a given term. Additionally, there are financial aid limitations regarding minimum credit hours taken per term; the student should be aware of any change to the number of credits taken each term and plan 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 expenses such as textbooks, other course materials, and uniforms, which may not be covered by financial aid.
A program graduate is awarded the Polk State Associate in Science in Nursing degree and is eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse. The Florida Board of Nursing has the authority to deny licensure as a registered professional nurse to any applicant with a conviction, a plea of no-contest, or a guilty plea (regardless of adjudication), for any offense other than a minor traffic violation. An applicant for admission with any record of a criminal charge who is accepted for admission must report this information to the Program Director to finalize acceptance. Any charges that arise after admission to the program must also be immediately reported to the Program Director. A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, the state's healthcare licensing authority.
A graduate of the Polk State Associate in Science (AS) in Nursing degree program is eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN) in Florida or in one of 27 other nursing-compact states. The student must apply for a multi-state license under the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). A list of states in the current compact can be located on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website (https://www.ncsbn.org/nurse-licensure-compact.htm). If a student is not a Florida resident or a resident of one of the compact states, the College cannot confirm whether the College's AS in Nursing degree meets the educational requirements for professional licensure in the student's particular state. Since the Polk State AS in Nursing degree program is nationally accredited, the curriculum should meet the requirements of other states; however, some states have additional requirements mandated within their curricula. If a student wishes to take the NCLEX-RN in a non-compact state, he or she must contact the state board of nursing in that specific state to determine whether the Polk State degree meets the eligibility requirements for licensure.