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Technical Standards


Technical Standards/Essential Functional Abilities Requirement

In addition to being admitted to Clarion University by meeting academic standards, applicants to the respiratory care program must also meet technical standards.  Technical standards are the physical, cognitive, and behavioral  requirements of the respiratory care program’s curriculum and reflect the essential functional abilities necessary to practice as a safe and effective respiratory therapist. 

Broad technical standards required of respiratory care majors include: 

  1. Think critically, with sound judgment, emotional stability, maturity, empathy, and  physical and mental stamina.

  2. Learn and function in a wide variety of large and small didactic and clinical settings.

  3. Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, using appropriate grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.

  4. Immediate comprehend and respond to auditory instructions or requests.

  5. Think clearly and act calmly and effectively  in stressful  and rapidly changing situations. 

  6. Perform up to a 12-hour clinical experience in a single 24-hour period. 

  7. Work cooperatively, preserving relationships with other members of the health care team.

  8. Establish and maintain appropriate and professional emotional and interpersonal boundaries.

  9. Perform fine and gross motor skills with both hands. 

  10. Apply adequate pressure to stop bleeding.

  11. Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

*Specific technical standards required of respiratory care majors include:

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)

Physical Strength

  • Push and pull 25 pounds (e.g., position patients)

  • Support 25 pounds of weight (e.g., ambulate patient)

  • Lift 25 pounds (e.g., pick up a child, transfer patient)

  • Move light objects weighing up to 10 pounds (e.g., IV poles)

  • Move heavy objects weighing from 11 to 50 pounds

  • Carry equipment/supplies

  • Use upper body strength (e.g., perform CPR, physically restrain a patient)

  • Squeeze with hands (e.g., operate fire extinguisher)


  • Twist

  • Bend

  • Stoop/squat

  • Move quickly (e.g., response to an emergency)

  • Climb (e.g., ladders/stools/stairs)

  • Walk


  • 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)


  • 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., patient in a room)

  • See objects more than 20 feet away (e.g., patient 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)


  • Feel vibrations (e.g., palpate pulses)

  • Detect temperature (e.g., skin, solutions)

  • Feel differences in surface characteristics (e.g., skin turgor, rashes)

  • Feel differences in sizes, shapes (e.g., palpate vein, identify body landmarks)

  • Detect environmental temperature (e.g., check for drafts)


  • Detect odors from patient (e.g., foul smelling drainage, alcohol breath, etc.)

  • Detect smoke

  • Detect gases or noxious smells


  • Read and understand written documents (e.g., policies, protocols)

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)

  • Tell time

  • 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

  • Compute fractions (e.g., medication dosages)

  • Use a calculator

  • Write numbers in records

Emotional Stability

  • Establish therapeutic boundaries

  • Provide client with emotional support

  • Adapt to changing environment/stress

  • Deal with the unexpected (e.g., patient going bad, crisis)

  • Focus attention on task

  • Monitor own emotions

  • Perform multiple responsibilities concurrently

  • Handle strong emotions (e.g., grief )

Analytical Thinking

  • Transfer knowledge from one situation to another

  • Process information

  • Evaluate outcomes

  • Problem solve

  • Prioritize tasks

  • Use long-term memory

  • Use short-term memory

Critical Thinking

  • Identify cause-effect relationships

  • Plan/control activities for others

  • Synthesize knowledge and skills

  • Sequence information

Interpersonal Skills

  • Negotiate interpersonal conflict
  • Respect differences in patients
  • Establish rapport with patients
  • Establish rapport with co-workers

Communication Skills

  • Teach (e.g., patient/family about health care)

  • Explain procedures

  • Give oral reports (e.g., report on patient's condition to others)

  • Interact with others (e.g., health care workers)

  • Speak on the telephone

  • Influence people

  • Direct activities of others

  • Convey information through writing (e.g., progress notes)

*Obtained  from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc., Chicago, IL.

Individuals wishing to major in respiratory care at Venango College of Clarion must be able to perform all aforementioned essential functional abilities with or without reasonable accommodations.  Individuals with a documented disability that precludes them from performing any of the essential functional abilities must determine if reasonable accommodation can be provided. 

To request an accommodation, please contact the Venango College Director of Student Affairs, Emily Aubele, by calling 1-877-VENANGO, extension 1270 or via email at and present written documentation of your disability.  Students must request accommodations in writing prior to application to the respiratory care program.  The University is not required to alter the nature or requirements of the respiratory care program for reasonable accommodations that place an undue burden on the university or program.

If a respiratory care major’s health changes while enrolled in the respiratory care program so that the essential functions cannot be met with or without reasonable accommodations, the student must withdrawal from the respiratory care program but may pursue another course of study at Clarion University.