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Technical Standards for Nursing Education Programs in the 21st Century

Ailey, Sarah H. PhD, RN, CDDN, APHN-BC1; Marks, Beth PhD, RN2

doi: 10.1002/rnj.278
Continuing Education

Purpose: The Institute of Medicine (2000, 2002) exposed serious safety problems in the health system and called for total qualitative system change. The Institute of Medicine (2011, 2015) also calls for improving the education of nurses to provide leadership for a redesigned health system. Intertwined with improving education is the need to recruit and retain diverse highly qualified students. Disability is part of diversity inclusion, but current technical standards (nonacademic requirements) for admission to many nursing programs are a barrier to the entry of persons with disabilities. Rehabilitation nurse leaders are in a unique position to improve disability diversity in nursing. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the importance of disability diversity in nursing.

Design: The history of existing technical standards used in many nursing programs is reviewed along with examples.

Methods: On the basis of the concept that disability inclusion is a part of diversity inclusion, we propose a new model of technical standards for nursing education.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance: Rehabilitation nurse leaders can lead in eliminating barriers to persons with disabilities entering nursing.

1 Department of Community, Systems and Mental Health Nursing, College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, IL, USA

2 HealthMatters Community Academic Partnership, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging With Developmental Disabilities, Department of Disability and Human Development, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Correspondence: Sarah H. Ailey, Department of Community, Systems and Mental Health Nursing, College of Nursing, Rush University, 600 S. Paulina #1080, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. E-mail:

Accepted March 13, 2016.

Cite this article as: Ailey, S. H., & Marks, B. (2017). Technical standards for nursing education programs in the 21st century. Rehabilitation Nursing, 42(5), 245–253. doi: 10.1002/rnj.278

© 2017 President and Fellows of Harvard College