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Nursing Undergraduate

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    Nursing Department

    Phone:  814.472.3027

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    Nursing Student Handbook 

    To succeed in nursing, you need to be ready for an innovative, high-touch, high caring profession where learning never stops.  Our nursing students enjoy a unique camaraderie through small clinical groups (1-8 faculty-student ratio) and our Student Nursing Organization (SNO). Faculty know students by name in our close-knit department. Faculty have expertise in all nursing clinical areas, and are always ready to assist students to achieve their highest potential.

    Nursing Program Highlights:

    • Individual attention; hands-on approach----we want you to succeed!
    • 1-8 maximum faculty-student ratio on clinical (hospital ) sites
    • Small classes-allows for individual attention
    • Members of the Student Nursing Organization regularly attend state and national conventions
    • Students and faculty regularly volunteer for University-sponsored clinics for the underserved
    • Incorporate Franciscan values into the curriculum
    • Student involvement in research

  • Purpose of the Baccalaureate Program

    The BSN Program prepares generalists in nursing to assist persons, families, and communities toward the goal of health throughout life. A baccalaureate education in nursing provides each student with the knowledge base for practicing professional nursing. The curriculum is based on a liberal arts foundation in the Judeo-Christian tradition and utilizes the AACN Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice within an integrated caring curriculum.

    The faculty of the Department of Nursing has embraced the concept of the learner as an individual who has acquired the self-concept of being responsible for one's self and of being self-directed. We view learning as a self-motivated and voluntary endeavor on the part of our nursing students. We also have, in response to our caring curriculum, moved away from the traditional role of teacher to that of facilitator of learning. Upon completion of the curriculum, the graduate possesses a foundation for graduate study.


    The Department of Nursing utilizes exceptional learning opportunities, in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, to prepare future registered nurses to provide safe quality care in various patient-centered health care environments.


    1.  Provide a liberal educational program of academic excellence which emphasizes critical reflection and cultivates professional caring attributes.
    2. Provide an education program based on the Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (2008) whereby care is given using a mind-body-spirit perspective within the scope of nursing practice (ANA Standards of Care and Standards of Professional Practice, 2004).
    3. Provide dynamic educational opportunities to develop the caring attributes in preparation for professional nursing practice.
    4. Prepare the graduate for ethical leadership and management roles including health policies, finances, and regulatory environments in order to promote safe, quality, patient-centered healthcare environments. 
    5. Prepare individuals at the baccalaureate level to assume interprofessional leadership roles across the continuum of health care environments.
    6. Provide a foundation for graduate study. 
    7. Foster life-long learning and stimulate personal and professional growth.
    8. Increase the number of nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level that are educated within a caring paradigm.


    Degree Options

    Majors for Nursing Students

    Great Minors for Nursing Students

    • Public Health, Minor
    • Biology, Minor
    • Psychology, Minor
    • Foreign languages, Minor
    • Spanish for Health Sciences, Minor

    See requirements: Visit the Course Catalog Major Requirements


    Admission Requirements

    Students enroll as a freshman in the nursing major. In addition to general education requirements, incoming freshman nursing students should earn a minimum SAT score as described below and a high school GPA of 3.0 or greater (based on a 4.0 scale). A strong background in the sciences and math is required, including Biology, Chemistry, and Algebra. A limited number of transfer students are admitted to the program based on available space, and additional admission criteria. Transfer students are required to have a pre-admission interview with a faculty member from the Nursing Department.

    Admission Criteria for High School and First-Semester College Students

    • Graduated from an approved secondary school or submission of a state-approved GED
    • Completed work equal to a standard academic high school coursework with a minimum of 16 units, including 4 units of English, 3 units of Social Studies, 2 units of Math, (one of which is Algebra), and 2 units of Science with a related laboratory, per the PA State Board of Nursing Regulations.  The Nursing Department requires the addition of the following:
      • Completed Math requirement, which includes Algebra, with a grade of “B” or higher.
      • Completed minimum of two units of Natural Science with a recommended grade of “B” or higher with one unit of Biology (with labs), Chemistry (with labs).
    • Have an earned 3.0 high school GPA or higher.
    • Earned a minimum SAT score of 1080 or a minimum ACT score of 21.
    • Students with SAT scores between 980-1079 or minimum ACT score of 19 may be admitted on provisional status if all other criteria has been met.
    • High school extracurricular activities, community service, and service learning projects are highly recommended.

    Admission Criteria for Transfer Students:

    Students requesting transfer from within the university or other institutions will be reviewed for acceptance and be placed on a space available basis. Decisions regarding the admission of a transfer student will be made on an individual basis. Transfer students requesting admission into Saint Francis University’s nursing program must meet the following criteria:

    • The applicant must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA from the transferring program or institution.
    • Transfer applicants with less than 28 earned college credits need to have earned a minimum SAT score of 1080 or a minimum ACT score of 21 (within five years)
    • Students with SAT scores between 980-1079 or a minimum ACT score of 19 may be admitted on provisional status if all other criteria have been met.
    • If an applicant has not taken the SAT or ACT within five years of the application date, he/she will be required to satisfactorily complete an entrance exam.
    • Transfer applicants with greater than 28 earned college credits will be evaluated on course work completed and earned GPA.
    • The following Natural Sciences courses (with a lab) will be considered for transfer credit.  Biology I (equivalent to BIOL 111), Human Chemistry (equivalent to CHEM 113), and Microbiology (equivalent to BIOL 214)
    • Transfer students admitted into the nursing program will be required to take Anatomy and Physiology I and II (BIOL 205 and BIOL 206) at Saint Francis University.
    • The transfer applicant must have an overall 2.6 GPA in the required Natural Science courses completed from the transferring institution.
    • If a transfer applicant is transferring from another nursing program, the following admission criteria will apply:
      • The candidate must be in good standing to progress in his/her current nursing program and he/she must submit the SFU Nursing Evaluation Form signed by the department chair of his/her current school.
      • Nursing courses taken at other institutions will be evaluated for transfer credit based upon equivalent credits, content and clinical course components.
      • The applicant can have only one repeated nursing course from the transferring institution.  Any further failures of a Saint Francis University nursing course would result in dismissal from the program.
      • The applicant can only have two or less repeated pre-requisite courses, natural science courses, or natural science labs transferred as a course equivalent to Saint Francis University. (equivalents to Math 107 SOC 101, PSYC 101, BIOL 111, BIOL 214, CHEM 113, or BIOL 205 and BIOL 206 if applicable)
      • Withdrawals from any nursing course, natural science, natural science lab, and/or pre-requisite course required at Saint Francis University are considered a repeated course. (equivalents to Math 107, SOC 101, PSYC 101, BIOL 111, BIOL 205, BIOL 206, BIOL 214, or CHEM 113)

      Provisional Acceptance

      If a first year applicant or transfer applicant does not meet minimum requirements for entrance into the nursing program, he/she could be considered as a provisional nursing major. As a provisional nursing major, first year applicants (less than 28 earned college credits) must have a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 and a minimum SAT of 900/ACT of 19. Transfer students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 and must meet program progression standards. Upon successful completion of the required math, science, and social science requirements with a natural science GPA of 2.6 and a cumulative GPA of 2.75, and an earned 80% in pre-nursing courses, the student will progress into the professional phase of the nursing curriculum on a space available basis.

      *Pre-nursing courses (with a lab) are: NURS 100, NURS 200, NURS 201.
      *Required math, science, social science: MATH 107, SOC 101, PSYCH 101, CHEM 103, BIO 111, BIO 214, BIO 205, BIO 206
      *Provisionally accepted students (as well as nursing and transfer students) can only have three or less repeated courses. 

      • This includes repeating one of the aforementioned math, social science, or science courses for a higher grade.
      • Withdrawals from any prerequisite/nursing courses (MATH 107, SOC 101, PSYC 101, BIOL 205, BIOL 206, BIOL 111, BIOL 214, or CHEM 103) count as a repeated course.
      • A student may repeat only one NURS course. 

      All Students Must Meet the Minimum Functional Requirements Policy

      Nursing practice requires that a person have certain functional abilities to provide safe and competent care. These are physical and mental activities and attributes needed by a nurse to practice safely in terms of essential nursing functions, with or without accommodations. Therefore, all nursing students must satisfactorily meet the health requirements listed on the student health form obtained in the Student Health Center. Essential physical abilities include gross and fine motor skills, mobility, physical strength and endurance, ability to use senses (tactile, visual, auditory, olfactory) and ability to be interactive, communicative, and interpersonal (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 1999). If a student does not meet minimum functional requirements, the student will not be able to fulfill clinical requirements and must withdraw from the program. Reasonable accommodations may be needed to allow the student to perform essential nursing functions (e.g., enhanced stethoscope for slight hearing impairment); however, all adaptive equipment and associated costs are the responsibility of the student. 

      Admission and continuance in the nursing major depends on the maintenance of satisfactory physical and mental health. Students are required to notify the Nursing Department Chairperson and clinical instructor immediately of any change in physical or mental health status, including pregnancies, so that clinical assignments may be adjusted accordingly.

      A student who develops a serious or extended illness while enrolled in the nursing major must be under the ongoing care of a health care provider. Upon identification of possible physical or psychological illness by a faculty person, the student must seek evaluation and treatment as required. The student must submit documentation from the health care provider indicating the student’s ability to perform the functions of a student nurse. A student with a communicable disease must adhere to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and policies of the affiliating agencies regarding measures to prevent transmission of the illness to others. A student may be asked to withdraw from the nursing program if there is evidence to suggest that the student is not in complete compliance with the CDC guidelines or that the health of the student or the safety of clients in the clinical area may be threatened by the continuation of the student in the program. Every effort will be made to accommodate the specific needs of the individual student resulting from the illness. Clinical objectives must be met despite pre-existing or existing health conditions. 

      Falsification or omission of information required on the student’s health record is grounds for dismissal of a student from the nursing program. Student health records and medical information will be maintained in separate locked files in the Student Health Center. All information will be kept strictly confidential and will not be released without written consent from the student. Students are responsible for any costs incurred relating to treatment for illness or injuries occurring at the clinical site. Saint Francis University and the affiliating agencies do not assume responsibility for any costs incurred for treatment of students. 

      Preparation for Entrance 

      If I am in high school, what courses should I be taking now?

      You should enroll in the academic curriculum and complete at least three years of science courses, including chemistry and biology, and earn a minimum grade of a B. Enrollment in four years of natural science courses would be the best way to prepare for becoming a nursing student. You need to complete at least 2 years of math (one must be algebra) and earn a minimum grade of a B. 

      If I am an adult just looking into the nursing field, how can I prepare?

      High school graduates who have been out of school for five or more years must successfully complete a nursing entrance test (as determined by the nursing program). They are also advised to enroll in two college courses to become oriented to college study and learn good study and time management skills. For assistance in choosing courses, please contact the Admissions’ office or the Nursing Department at:

      Phone:  (814) 472-3100
      Fax: (814) 472-3335
      Phone:  (814) 472-3027
      Fax:(814) 472-3849



      Progression Requirements

      Progression and continuance in the Nursing program are based upon scholastic achievement, health maintenance, and adherence to Saint Francis University policies. In addition, nursing majors must adhere to the Nursing Department policies as stated in the current Department of Nursing Student Handbook.

      • Minimum grade of “C” in all natural science courses
      • Minimum grade of “C” in all prerequisite social science courses (General Sociology, Introduction to Psychology, and College Algebra)
      • Minimum natural science GPA of 2.6 (Biology I, Human Chemistry I, Anatomy and Physiology I and II, and Microbiology) to enter junior-level clinical courses
      • Minimum overall GPA of 2.75 to enter junior-level clinical courses
      • Pass the math proficiency exams in the sophomore, junior, and senior levels
      • Minimum grade of “B-“ (80%) in all nursing courses
      • Maximum of three repeated courses (only able to repeat one nursing course)
        • More information on course repeats can be found on the Admissions Information page
      • Students must meet all other progression requirements stated in the current Department of Nursing Student Handbook
      • Students are responsible for travel/lodging to clinical sites

      Students in the nursing program must comply with the requirements of the Professional Nursing Law of Pennsylvania. Students are required to submit to PA criminal clearances, FBI fingerprinting clearance, and child abuse history clearance. Healthcare agencies have the right to refuse clinical placement or deny employment based on background checks. The PA Board of Nursing shall not issue a license or certificate to an applicant who has been convicted of a felonious act prohibited by the Act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64) known as the "The Controlled Substance Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act" or convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance in a court of law of the United States or any other state, territory, or country unless: (1) at least ten (10) years have elapsed from the date of conviction; (2) the applicant satisfactorily demonstrated to the Board that he/she has made significant progress in personal rehabilitation since the conviction such that licensure of the applicant should not be expected to create a substantial risk of harm to the health and safety of patients or the public or a substantial risk of further criminal violation; (3) the applicant otherwise satisfies the qualifications contained in or authorized by this act. As used in this subsection, the term "convicted" shall include a judgment, an admission of guilt or a plea of nolo contendere (no contest). An applicant's statement on the application declaring the absence of a conviction shall be deemed satisfactory evidence of the absence of a conviction unless the Board has some evidence to the contrary (Amended June 29, 2002, P. L. 651, No. 99).

      The following information demonstrates typical progression of classes to complete the nursing program in four years.

      Download the latest Plan of Study.

      *Students must provide their own transportation to clinical sites.

      ** Sophomore Students need to take and pass Math Proficiency Exam
      ^ Pre-requisite for NURS 200
      ^^ Students can consider taking BIO 214 in the summer.

      For Entrance into Professional Phase NURS 300 Level courses, students need to have 2.75 minimum overall QPA and must maintain a natural science QPA of 2.6 or higher.  

      Please refer to the Saint Francis University Catalog for course descriptions.


      Retention/Progression Requirements Progression Policy

      Progression and continuance in the Nursing Program is based upon academic performance and successful achievement of nursing prerequisites, health maintenance, and adherence to Saint Francis University policies in the current University Catalog and Department of Nursing policies as stated in the current Student Handbook. The faculty of the Department of Nursing has the right and the responsibility for judging and evaluating the quality of the student's achievement, both in the mastery of the theoretical content and in clinical competence.

      A. Academic Progression

      1. Students must earn a minimum grade of "C" in the following prerequisite Natural Science and Social Science courses. A "C-" grade is not acceptable.
        Natural Science Courses: Social Sciences Courses: Math Courses:
        BIOL  111 Biology IPSYCH 101 Introduction to Psychology  Math 107 College Algebra
        CHEM  113 Human Chemistry ISOC 101 General Sociology  
        BIOL 214 Microbiology  
        BIOL 205 Anatomy and Physiology I   
        BIOL 206 Anatomy  and Physiology  II  
      2.  Students must earn a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.6 or better in the Natural Science courses of BIOL 111, CHEM 111, BIOL 214, BIOL 205 and BIOL 206 prior to entry into the professional phase of nursing in the junior year (300 Level)
      3. All Natural Science courses required by the Nursing Program that are taken at another institution and transferred into Saint Francis University will be used in the Natural Science GPA calculation, although they are not calculated into the student’s overall cumulative GPA.
      4. Students must earn a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 2.75 prior to entry into the professional phase of nursing in the junior year (300 Level).
      5. The only nursing courses that may be taken prior to entry into the professional phase of the nursing program (300 Level) are:  NURS 100, NURS 200, NURS 201, and NURS 311. 
      6. Students must successfully complete the required pre-requisites with at least a “C” grade.
      7. Prior to the junior year, it is recommended that the maximum number of liberal arts courses the student should have left to complete is three (3) courses (nine credits maximum). When scheduling classes, it is the student’s responsibility to schedule classes so that the classes do not interfere with the clinical experiences.
      8. All students must pass a math proficiency exam with an 80% in the following courses: NURS 200, NURS 300, NURS 303 and NURS 401. The purpose of the examination is to determine the student’s ability to correctly calculate medication dosages in the clinical setting. Please refer to the policy on the Math Proficiency Exam found in the Student Handbook.
      9. A maximum of three (3) repeated courses  are permitted in the total curriculum of the Nursing Program which includes only one nursing course, and any  prerequisite Social Science or Natural Science course.
      10. Nursing majors MUST earn a minimum grade of “B-” (80%) in each nursing course in order to progress to the next course that requires a clinical laboratory component.
        1. A grade of less than a “B-“grade will constitute a failing grade in any required nursing course. 
        2. A student may repeat a nursing course only once.  Dismissal occurs when a student fails any nursing course the second time.   If a student’s level of clinical practice is unsafe or unsatisfactory, the student will fail the course BEFORE the end of the semester.
        3. Any withdrawal from a nursing course with less than a B- grade is considered a course failure and counts as a course to be repeated.
        4. Any student who needs to repeat a nursing course beyond one year of withdrawal or failure of that course must repeat all prerequisite and co-requisite nursing courses for that course. Exceptions are NURS 100, NURS 201, NURS 311, NURS 316, NURS 416, NURS 403, and nursing electives
      11. Nursing majors must attain at least a GPA of 2.6 in the pre-requisite Natural Science courses (BIOL 111, CHEM 113, BIOL 214, BIOL 205 and BIOL 206) and minimum “C” grade in the Social Science courses (SOC 101, PSYC 101) and MATH 107.
        1. Any withdrawal from a core curriculum prerequisite social or natural science course with a grade of “D” or lower is considered a course failure and counts as a course to be repeated.
        2. If a science course has a separate laboratory grade, and the student earns a “D” or “F” in the lab component, this is considered a failing grade and counts as a course to be repeated.
        3. Courses in which “D” or “F” grades are earned can only be repeated at Saint Francis University.
        4. Students who need to repeat a course are subject to the restrictions specified below.  Both the original course and grade, and the repeated course and grade, appear on the academic record, but only the higher grade is used in the computation of the GPA. A course which is a prerequisite course for a more advanced course in the same discipline may not be repeated after a more advanced course has been successfully completed. 
        5. If a student passes a prerequisite course with a C grade and elects to repeat a prerequisite course to increase their GPA, the repeated course will count toward total repeated courses.
      12. Nursing students enrolled in the program of studies will be the first to fill the limited spaces available in the nursing courses. Students who must repeat a nursing clinical course will then be given preference over those students reactivating their status in the program or transferring into the program.
      13. A student who requests and receives a continuance or readmission is responsible for curricular changes in the program of nursing study which occur during his or her absence. A student follows the curriculum guide for the class which he or she joins upon returning to the program.
      14. Nursing students who leave the program for a year or more will be evaluated on an individual basis for a progression plan in the curriculum. 
      BSN Program Outcomes

      1. BSN program completion rates for students entering into the professional phase of the nursing program and graduating within 6 semesters are at a minimum of 70% or higher.

      2018 Graduates 2017 Graduates 2016 Graduates 2015 Graduates 2014 Graduates 
      96.4% 81.90% 86.4% 72.6% 76.5% 


      2. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program graduates have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) on their first attempt.  2018 was the fifth year in a row that the graduating class received a perfect pass rate.  

      National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
      Year Number of First Time Takers Program First Time Taker Pass Rate National First Time Taker Pass Rate 
      2017 15 100% 


      2016 19 100% 84.30% 
      2015 16 100% 84.18% 
      2014 13 100% 81.74% 
       Five Year First Time Taker Average100% 84.94% 



      3. The BSN program graduate employment rate is at a minimum of 70% or higher as evidenced through data collected within 12 months of program completion.

      2018 Graduates 2017 Graduates 2016 Graduates 2015 Graduates 2014 Graduates 
       100% employed100% employed 100% employed                 100% employed                 100% employed                 
      Student Outcomes
      1. Synthesize knowledge from the humanities and sciences, advanced nursing concepts, and applicable evidenced-based practice to enhance the art and science of nursing care.
      2. Espouse a life-giving mode of being derived from The Prayer of Saint Francis for use in interprofessional communication and collaboration to establish therapeutic and human caring relationships with individuals, families, and communities.
      3. Utilize technology and informatics to improve the delivery of nursing care, quality of care, health care outcomes, and the delivery of health education to multiple populations.
      4. Employ the caring-nursing process to maximize wellness in the delivery of culturally competent professional nursing care for individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations across the lifespan and across the continuum of healthcare environments.
      5. Affirm professionalism in the art and science of nursing care by understanding the ramifications of health care policy, finance, and regulatory environments on nursing care.
      6. Assume the professional nursing roles of caregiver, teacher, advocate, and care manager by utilizing basic organizational and systems leadership skills to promote quality patient­ centered care and patient safety.
      Career Possibilities

      A nurse is a health care professional who is dedicated to the protection and promotion of health, the prevention of illness and injury, and the improvement of comfort. The nurse is also an advocate of individuals, families, communities, and populations. The field of nursing offers a wide array of career opportunities. Nurses are employed in hospitals, home health, nursing care facilities, outpatient facilities, government, schools, military, just to name a few.

      Our nurses go far. Here are some of opportunities that our graduates have taken

      • Clinical nurses on medical-surgical units
      • Neonatal intensive care unit nurse
      • Cardio-thoracic intensive care unit nurse
      • Home health nurse
      • Nurse practitioner
      • Nursing professor
      • Hospital staff development instructor
      • Nurse administrator
      • Labor and delivery unit nurse
      • Army nurse
      • Nursing home administrator
      • Nursing home nurse


      Collaborative Approach

      Collaboration is the buzz word around the School of Health Sciences. All of the Health Science Programs—including Nursing—will soon be housed in the same building—Sullivan Hall. The University is committed to building a cutting-edge, state-of the –art,  interdisciplinary simulation lab, where you will work in simulated activities with occupational therapyphysical therapy, and physician assistant students. Simulation provides a safe environment for all health science students to practice skills—both hands-on and communication—with other health professionals to mimic the current health care settings.


      The baccalaureate nursing program at Saint Francis University has full approval by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.  A graduate is eligible to sit for the R.N. licensure exam, NCLEX-RN®.   The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Saint Francis University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

      Information on CCNE can be obtained from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

      Miscellaneous Information

      • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
      • National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
      • Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing


      Certification/Licensure Requirements

      Upon graduation from the BSN program, all students must pass the NCLEX to receive the RN license.