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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 Nursing Student Organization (NSO). 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 Nursing Student 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

  • Degree Options

    Majors for Nursing Students

    • Nursing, Bachelor of Science

    See requirements: Visit the academic catalog and scroll to the School of Health Sciences to view degree requirements.


    Great Minors for Nursing Students

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

    See requirements: Visit the academic catalog and scroll to the School of Health Sciences to view degree requirements.


    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


    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 a Recent High School Graduate

    • Completed work equal to a standard academic high school coursework with a minimum of 16 units with a grade of “B” or better (“C-“ is not acceptable in any course) to meet the pre-professional requirements of the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and Saint Francis University.
    • Have earned a 3.0 high school GPA or higher.
    • Successfully completed four units of English.
    • Successfully completed three units of Social Studies.
    • Completed a minimum of two units Math (one must be algebra) with a grade of “B” or higher.
      • If a student has less than a “B” math average, he/she may take Algebra I and II (for a “B” or better grade) at a local technology center, vocational school, or community college course and submit course grade(s) with admission forms.
    • Completed a minimum of three units of Natural Science with a grade of “B” or better (within the last five years). One year of each, Biology (with labs), Chemistry (with labs), and one unit in an advanced science.
    • Earned minimum SAT scores as outlined below
      • Earn a minimum score of 1000 (in math and critical reading combined) if SAT was taken before March 2016
      • Earn a minimum score of 1080 if SAT was taken after March 2016
    • High school extracurricular activities, community service, and service learning projects are strongly recommended.


    Admission Criteria for a Transfer Student

    Students requesting transfer from other universities will be reviewed and placed on a space available basis. Nursing courses taken at other universities may be assessed for transfer of credits. Preference will be given to students who have taken the majority of their prerequisite courses at Saint Francis University. Decisions regarding the admission of a transfer student will be made on an individual basis for the nursing program. Transfer students requesting admission into Saint Francis University’s nursing program must meet the following criteria:

    • If transferring from another nursing program, the applicant 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. 
    • The applicant must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
    • Transfer applicants with less than 28 earned college credits have a recent (within five years) minimum SAT score of 1000, in math and critical reading combined, or a minimum ACT score of 21.
      • If an applicant did not take the SAT or ACT within five years of the application date, he/she must take an admission test, as determined by the nursing program.
    • The following sciences courses (with a lab) will be considered for transfer of credits: Biology I (equivalent to BIOL 111), Human Chemistry (equivalent to CHEM 103), and Microbiology.
      • The transfer applicant must have a Natural Science GPA of 2.6 or greater.
    • Transfer applicants can only have one repeated nursing course. Any further failures of an SFU nursing course would result in dismissal from the program.
    • Any student applying for transfer into Saint Francis University’s nursing program can only have two or less non-nursing and nursing repeated courses. 
      • This includes repeating prerequisite courses and/or one of the aforementioned science courses for a higher grade.
      • Withdrawals from any prerequisite-nursing course (equivalents to MATH 107, SOC 101, PSYC 101, BIOL 111, BIOL 205, BIOL 206, BIOL 214, or CHEM 103) count as a repeated course.
    • Pre-professional transfer students admitted into Saint Francis University’s nursing program will be required to take Anatomy and Physiology I and II (BIOL 205 and BIOL 206) at Saint Francis University.

    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.

    Freshman Year
    Fall SemesterSpring Semester
    Course Number     NameCreditsCourse NumberName     Credits
    BIOL 111Biology 14NURS 100Intro to Professional Nursing1
    PSYC 101Intro to Psychology3CHEM 113Human Chemistry I4
    MATH 107College Algebra3SOC 101General Sociology3
    RLST 105Franciscan Goals3ENGL 103Writing For A Discipline3
    CORE 113First Year Seminar 3HIST100-200 Level History3
    CORE 103Community Enrichment Series 0CORE 104Community Enrichment Series0
        Fine Arts Elective3
     Total Credits16 Total Credits17
    Sophomore Year
    Fall SemesterSpring Semester
    Course Number     NameCreditsCourse NumberName     Credits
    BIOL 205Anatomy and Physiology I4BIOL 206Anatomy and Physiology II4
    BIOL 214Microbiology4NURS 200Nursing Assessment3
    STAT 101Statistics3NURS 201Health and Development3
    ENGL 104Writing About Literature3LANGLanguage 102 Level or Higher3
    PHIL 205Discovering Philosophy 3GETM IGeneral Education Elective3
    CORE 211Personal Wellness 0CORE 212     Community and Global Wellness0
     Total Credits17 Total Credits16
    Junior Year
    Fall SemesterSpring Semester
    Course Number     NameCreditsCourse NumberName     Credits
    NURS 300Nursing Fundamentals*4NURS 302Medical Surgical Nursing*4
    NURS 301Care of Childbearing Family*4NURS 303Pediatric Nursing*4
    NURS 311Human Nutrition3NURS 403Nursing Research3
    NURS 316Pathophysiology / Pharmacology I4NURS 416Pathophysiology / Pharmacology II3
    EXAM 301Writing Comprehensive Exam 0GETM IIIGeneral Education Elective3
     Total Credits15 Total Credits17
    Senior Year
    Fall SemesterSpring Semester
    Course Number     NameCreditsCourse NumberName     Credits
    NURS 401Critical Care Nursing*4NURS 402Mental Health Nursing*4
    NURS 405Community Nursing*4NURS 404Chronic Health Nursing*4
    NURS 410Nursing Management / Leadership Theory3NURS 411Nursing Management / Leadership Practicum*2
    GETIM IVGeneral Education Elective3NURSNursing Elective2
    CORE 407Senior Capstone 3CORE 401 Senior Capstone Exam 0


     Leadership Management Clinical Practicum3


     Total Credits17 Total Credits13

    Total Curriculum Credits 128


    *Students must provide their own transportation to clinical sites.


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



    The baccalaureate nursing program at Saint Francis University has full approval by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 887-6791. For more information regarding disclosure, please review pages 15-16 of the CCNE Procedures for Accreditation of Baccalaureate and Graduate Degree Nursing Programs (amended December 2011) at A graduate is eligible to sit for the R.N. licensure exam, NCLEX-RN®.

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

    Board Pass Rates

    The Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program graduates have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) on their first attempt.  This is the second year in a row that the graduating class received a perfect pass rate.  The average pass-rate for first-time test takers for the graduating classes of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 is 94%.

    Miscellaneous Information

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


    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.

    Purpose of the Baccalaureate Program

    The nursing 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 perspective of caring/nursing theorists for its organizing framework.

    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.