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Graduate Nursing Department

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The goal of the College's nursing programs is to prepare every student to think critically, and practice nursing competently and compassionately in rapidly changing practice environments. All efforts are designed to build nursing knowledge, enhance nursing practice and patient safety, foster professional integrity, and ultimately improve the health outcomes of patients, families, and communities across the continuum of care. In addition, certain functional abilities are essential for the delivery of safe, effective nursing care during clinical training activities. Therefore, the faculty has determined that certain technical standards are requisite for admission, progression, and graduation from the nursing programs.

In addition to classroom learning, clinical learning occurs throughout the program and involves considerations (such as patient safety and clinical facilities) that are not present for classroom accommodations. For this reason, any applicant or student who seeks accommodations prior to or immediately after enrolling in the nursing programs must also request an assessment of the types of reasonable accommodations needed for the clinical training component of the program.

An individual must be able to independently, with or without reasonable accommodation, meet the following technical standards of general abilities and those specifically of (1) observation; (2) communication; (3) motor; (4) intellectual, conceptual, and quantitative abilities; (5) essential behavioral and social attributes; and (6) ability to manage stressful situations. Individuals unable to meet these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, will not be able to complete the program and are counseled to pursue alternate careers.

General Abilities: The student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, and smell so that data received by the senses may be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner. A student must also possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, vibration, and movement that are important to the student's ability to gather significant information needed to effectively evaluate patients. A student must be able to respond promptly to urgent situations that may occur during clinical training activities and must not hinder the ability of other members of the health care team to provide prompt treatment and care to patients.

Observational Ability: The student must have sufficient capacity to make accurate visual observations and interpret them in the context of laboratory studies, medication administration, and patient care activities. In addition, the student must be able to document these observations and maintain accurate records.

Communication Ability: The student must communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally to elicit information and to translate that information to others. Each student must have the ability to read, write, comprehend, and speak the English language to facilitate communication with patients, their family members, and other professionals in health care settings. In addition, the student must be able to maintain accurate patient records, present information in a professional, logical manner and provide patient counseling and instruction to effectively care for patients and their families. The student must possess verbal and written communication skills that permit effective communication with instructors and students in both the classroom and clinical settings.

Motor Ability: The student must be able to perform gross and fine motor movements with sufficient coordination needed to perform complete physical examinations utilizing the techniques of inspection, palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A student must develop the psychomotor skills reasonably needed to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, management and operation of diagnostic and therapeutic medical equipment, and such maneuvers to assist with patient care activities such as lifting, wheel chair guidance, and mobility. The student must have sufficient levels of neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination as well as possess the physical and mental stamina to meet the demands associated with extended periods of sitting, standing, moving, and physical exertion required for satisfactory and safe performance in the clinical and classroom settings including performing CPR, if necessary. The student must possess the ability of manual dexterity that would be required for certain activities, such as drawing up solutions in a syringe.

Intellectual, Conceptual, and Quantitative Abilities: The student must be able to develop and refine problem-solving skills that are crucial to practice as a nurse. Problem-solving involves the abilities to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize objective and subjective data, and to make decisions, often in a time urgent environment, that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and sound clinical judgment. Each student must demonstrate mastery of these skills and possess the ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the nursing and medical literature to formulate sound judgment in patient assessment, intervention, evaluation, teaching, and setting short and long term goals.

Behavioral and Social Attributes: Compassion, integrity, motivation, effective interpersonal skills, and concern for others are personal attributes required of those in the nursing programs. Personal comfort and acceptance of the role of a nurse functioning under supervision of a clinical instructor or preceptor is essential for a nursing student. The student must possess the skills required for full utilization of the student's intellectual abilities; the exercise of good judgment; the prompt completion of all responsibilities in the classroom and clinical settings; and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and other members of the health care team. Each student must be able to exercise stable, sound judgment and to complete assessment and interventional activities. The ability to establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds is critical for practice as a nurse. The student must be able to adapt to changing environments; display flexibility; accept and integrate constructive criticism given in the classroom and clinical settings; effectively interact in the clinical setting with other members of the healthcare team; and learn to function cooperatively and efficiently in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice.

Ability to Manage Stressful Situations: The student must be able to adapt to and function effectively to stressful situations in both the classroom and clinical settings, including emergency situations. The student will encounter multiple stressors while in the nursing programs. These stressors may be (but are not limited to) personal, patient care/family, faculty/peer, and or program-related.

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As we honor and celebrate all nurses and midwives during the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we are sharing some short stories, advice and inspiration from CNHP alumni.

Claire Mackes in nursing scrubsClaire Mackes, MSN ’16

An accomplished nurse educator, Mackes initially became interested in nursing after volunteering at a local hospital in high school. During her program at Drexel, she connected with instructors, who were invested in her success, and encouraged her to consider becoming a nurse educator. After school and in practice, Mackes found a natural fit helping new nurses learn the critical skills needed to care for patients. Her care of patients continues in a hospital setting along with working as a nurse educator.


Stephanie Dickson, BSN ’15

Having been inspired in her younger years by the nurses at a local hospital, Dickson found an inclination and interest in science and medicine. After completing the Accelerated Career Entry BSN at Drexel, she has spent the last five years working as a critical care nurse. From Manhattan to Phoenix, Dickson has worked in some of the top intensive care unit’s across the country, caring for people in the medical, ,surgical cardiovascular, and the trauma intensive care units. “What I learned at Drexel was invaluable… . I hope to continue this journey and to keep providing the best possible care I can provide!”

Head shot of Susan TurnageSusan Turnage, RN ’72

Turnage has been a practicing nurse for 48 years. Just last year, her occupational memoir, One Nurse Universe, was published detailing her career experiences in pediatric, oncology and home health nursing, among others. Additionally, she is a certified Yoga Nurse, and specializes in teaching therapeutic yoga as stress management for fellow nurses and patients. Turnage has appeared on the” Kathy Lewis Show” on WHRO, an NPR affiliate, for the 2020 International Day of the Nurse, on May 12, which is also Florence Nightingale’s 200th Birthday.

Ashley Hur and coworker in hospital scrubsAshley Hur, BSN ’14

After researching and considering many different career opportunities prior to enrolling at Drexel, Hur found a natural connection to a career in nursing. After school, Hur’s career has led her to care at Penn Presbyterian in the surgical-ortho trauma unit as a certified nursing assistant. With a passion for care and Philadelphia, she reminds all on the front lines to make sure to get a full night of sleep.

Selfie of Lauren KalemberLauren Kalember, MSN ’17

Having a natural inclination toward teaching and education, Kalember knew during her first year working at the bedside that she was passionate about improving the work of all nurses. During her time at Drexel, Kalember saw the positive outcomes of empowering others through education. As she has seen in practice, nursing education in a hospital setting must remain adaptable and innovative in the complex healthcare environment. As a manager of nurse educators, Kalember develops systems that help implement education at an organizational level. Kalember’s pro-tip is “encouraging all nurses to intentionally reflect and study each week. We will never be done learning.”

Kelly Gabor in scrubs standing in front of a brick wall and flower bedsKelly Gabor, BSN ’18

Gabor was inspired to become a nurse after having positive and helpful interactions with nurses as a child. Taking those lessons to practice, she is now a nurse at the nationally-recognized Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Working with children is so rewarding and I love be able to put even a small smile on their faces when I can. Our CHOP nurses go above and beyond for our children and I couldn't be prouder to work there after my Drexel career. Drexel helped me in so many ways with all three co-ops at CHOP. I felt very prepared after my nursing education at Drexel.”


Jill DerstineOn April 7, 2020, Drexel associate clinical professor Jill Derstine, EdD, was named a recipient of the 2020 Health Volunteer Overseas (HVO) Golden Apple Award. This distinction recognizes individuals and health educators who make exceptional contributions to improve global health. The award was established in 2006, and each year, a small number of recipients are selected. Individuals are nominated by HVO members, volunteers or leadership, or by overseas partners to recognize the impact they have had as teachers, advisers, mentors and leaders.

“I feel so fortunate to have been afforded the opportunities to participate globally with Health Volunteers Overseas,” said Derstine. “My passion for nurses in underdeveloped countries began with that first trip to Vietnam and continues today. During my time as a volunteer, I have seen many nurses grow and change, which is so important in these uncertain times. Caring for patients is a team effort, and I want to make sure to acknowledge and thank my colleagues and all of the international nurses with whom I have worked.”

Having joined HVO in the mid-1990s, Derstine has been actively involved in their nursing education program for more than two decades. Serving as project director for three of her 19 overseas assignments, Derstine has provided meaningful and consistent leadership during her time volunteering with HVO. During her tenure, she participated in a 14-year project funded by USAID, which established rehabilitation nursing and strengthened BSN nursing in the country, Cambodia, Ukraine and India. She is presently engaged in a project with Eternal University School of Nursing in Baru Sahib, India and has initiated a memorandum of understanding between Drexel and Eternal University.

Derstine has been active in nursing education and rehabilitation nursing for over 40 years. From 2002 through 2007 she served on the Board of Commissioners of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and served as chair of the board for the last two years of her term. She also chaired the Report Review Committee, a subcommittee of the board, for four years.

Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve global health through education of the local health workforce in resource-scarce countries. HVO fosters partnerships between institutions, local providers, volunteers and sponsor organizations to address the global health workforce shortage.


We asked our faculty, students, staff and alumni what they are doing to help during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they recharge after long or challenging days.

These are some of their stories.


Sharrona Pearl, PhD is associate teaching professor of Medical Ethics in the Department of Health AdministrationMy family is committed to grocery shopping for vulnerable people and folks who have small children and can't leave the house. I have also been volunteering with Philly Mutual Aid to participate in communal support efforts in my community.

To Recharge, I read and jump on the trampoline with my kids.

Sharrona Pearl, PhD, Associate Professor, Health Administration


Selfie of Kate G, a female with long blond hairI work in a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as a bedside RN taking care of micro premature infants. We have had a few premature infants born to COVID+ mothers that are critically ill in the ICU.

Thankfully, so far, we have had no babies who are COVID +. We are taking care of these babies during a dark time for many families—it's truly an honor.

To recharge, I do Yoga and walking the trails by my house—you have to start fresh each day!

Katherine Geise, BSN '13, MSN '21


Eileen Sarnes, a female nurse wearing PPEI am currently in the MSN-FNP track and a step-down float nurse right in the epicenter at New York Presbyterian-Columbia. In the beginning of March, I floated to COVID-19 units and quickly became infected on March 19. I am blessed to have made a quick and full recovery!

Although I was scared and nervous , on April 3, I eagerly returned to the frontlines in saving lives! It has been an emotionally hard task to take care of COVID patients. However, whenever I discharge a COVID patient it makes it all worth it. My hospital plays “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas every time a patient is extubated or discharged—it's been playing more and more lately!

Nursing has and always will be my calling. Thank you, Drexel, for helping me pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner. Shout out to all the RN’s working on the frontlines and still focusing on their education! CLASS OF 2020, WE GOT THIS!

To recharge after a long day at work, I like to enjoy a nice glass of white wine, meditate or talk to family and friends.

Eileen Sarnes, MSN '20


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