Jun 21, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 

Nursing (NURS)

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Admission to the major in nursing in the School of Nursing is limited. See “Limited Admissions and Limited Retention Requirements” in the Admission section of this catalog.

The School of Nursing offers majors in nursing (B.S.) and baccalaureate degree completion. Students interested in one of the school’s majors or minors should contact the college advising office as early as possible. Failure to do so could result in delayed graduation.

Majors in the School of Nursing who are preparing for professional practice may be dismissed from a program on the basis of either academic deficiencies or nonprofessional performance. Specific criteria relating to these areas are made known to each student at the time the professional phase of a program is initiated. The Undergraduate Nursing Student Handbook contains additional policies related to admission and progression through the nursing program. 

Nursing Program

The School of Nursing offers the B.S. degree with a major in nursing, successful completion of which qualifies the graduate to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) required for licensure as a registered professional nurse (R.N.). The Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation requires a criminal background check prior to taking the NCLEX-RN examination. A final determination of eligibility for licensure can only be made after an application for license by examination has been submitted by the graduate. An R.N. degree-completion option is offered to registered nurses who want to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing.

The nursing program at NIU prepares the professional nurse for leadership roles in patient care within the entire spectrum of health care agencies and settings. A variety of agencies in northern Illinois are used as clinical laboratory facilities for students. Experiences in the clinical settings are chosen to augment and demonstrate selected aspects of nursing theory. Graduates are prepared to function with baccalaureate competencies in the delivery of nursing care, in the improvement of health care delivery systems, in utilizing the knowledge of the physical and social sciences as integral aspects of nursing, and in entering graduate programs to increase their nursing competencies and skills. The baccalaureate curriculum is approved by the Committee on Nursing of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Clinical Requirements

All students are admitted to the nursing program provisionally until they have provided proof of meeting the clinical requirements outlined in the Undergraduate Nursing Student Handbook and then they will be fully admitted. Full admission to the nursing program is required to enroll in nursing courses. All undergraduate nursing majors are required to submit proof of having met clinical requirements when requested and must maintain clinical requirements for continued enrollment in the nursing major. If requirements are not met, the student might not be able to complete the program of required courses, which includes clinical practice experiences.

Clinical requirements include documentation of immunizations/immunity, criminal background checks, drug screening, Standard Precautions/Universal Precautions training, CPR Healthcare Provider certification, and health insurance. Professional Liability Insurance is provided as part of student fees.

Students are required to undergo criminal background checks and drug screenings and are evaluated for a disqualifying criminal offense under Illinois regulations for health care workers. A student with a disqualifying offense will be unable to complete the program. Those who commit a crime while enrolled in the nursing program may be unable to complete the program.

Students with a positive drug screen for illegal or unauthorized drugs may be unable to complete the program.

All clinical requirements are to be maintained throughout the nursing program as outlined in the Undergraduate Nursing Student Handbook.

General Information

Only students admitted as undergraduate nursing majors may enroll in the undergraduate nursing courses, with the exception of NURS 302 which is open to non-nursing majors. Admitted students must have all prerequisite courses completed with a grade of C or better to begin nursing courses. Transfer students are encouraged to contact a program adviser before enrolling to determine whether prior course work satisfies prerequisites. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis for graduate students in nursing who need to eliminate deficiencies. New freshman and transfer students who enroll as full-time students must plan on a minimum of five semesters to complete the required nursing courses.

In addition to the usual costs for a university student, the nursing major will be responsible for the costs involved in

  • student nurse uniforms to be worn in all clinical courses;
  • equipment, e.g., a watch with sweep second hand and a stethoscope;
  • providing own transportation for the clinical courses (NURS 303, NURS 313, NURS 323, NURS 333, NURS 343, NURS 433, NURS 443, NURS 453, and NURS 463);
  • professional liability insurance;
  • criminal background checks and drug screening;
  • clinical requirement fees; and
  • fees for certain courses.

Students enrolled in clinical nursing courses must complete all prerequisites.

R.N.-B.S. in Nursing Completion Option

The R.N.-B.S. in nursing completion option is designed to award credit to registered nurses for their recent education and previous learning experiences in the field of nursing. Students who are admitted early via a partnership agreement with another institution, course work from that institution will be recognized and credit awarded prior to graduation. Registered nurse degree-completion students must plan on a minimum of at least three semesters to complete the required nursing courses. See “Admission” for further information. Upon successful completion of NURS 347, the R.N. student will receive 33 semester hours of credit for NURS 303, NURS 305, NURS 313, NURS 314, NURS 315, NURS 318, NURS 319, NURS 323, NURS 333, NURS 336, NURS 343, NURS 422, and NURS 433. This credit will be held in “escrow” and will be posted to the student’s transcript upon successful completion of 12 semester hours of nursing credit with a grade of C or better. Students in this option are exempt from the 30 semester hour university residence requirement.

Registered nurses who graduated within the past five years from a nursing program will automatically be granted the appropriate number of escrow credits provided they have practiced as a registered nurse within the past five years. Registered nurses who graduated more than five years ago who have not practiced as a registered nurse within the past five years will need to provide evidence of a refresher course. RNs who must take a refresher course may be provisionally admitted to the nursing program. Students who are provisionally admitted to the RN-B.S. option may only take NURS 463 once fully admitted. In order to receive a baccalaureate degree, the R.N.-B.S. completion student is required to complete the following courses with a grade of C or better: NURS 306, NURS 308, NURS 312, NURS 347, NURS 408, NURS 419, NURS 425, NURS 432, NURS 435, NURS 463, and NURS 488.

It is highly recommended that students intending to transition into the master’s program see the academic adviser to plan their sequence of courses early in their program of study.

Academic Warning/Retention 

Students will receive an Academic Warning in the following circumstances: 

  1. Freshman nursing students who fail to achieve a GPA between 2.5 and 2.74 at the completion of the second semester.  
  2. R.N. students whose cumulative GPA falls between 2.5 and 2.74 after completing nine semester hours at NIU.  
  3. All other nursing students whose cumulative GPA is between 2.5 and 2.74  
  4. A nursing student who receives two grades of D or F or U in any combination of NURS courses.  
  5. Unprofessional behavior or actions which threaten the health and safety of patients.  

Students who receive an Academic Warning for a grade of D or F in a core nursing course (NURS 304, NURS 305, NURS 308, NURS 314, NURS 315, NURS 318, NURS 319, NURS 336, NURS 419, NURS 422, NURS 431, NURS 432) will be required to enroll in NURS 380 (Promoting Academic and Career Success in Nursing), the following semester. Students must then complete NURS 380 with a C or higher to continue in the nursing program. Also, in the following semester, students must repeat any required nursing course in which they received a grade of D, F, or U and complete the course(s) with a C or higher.  

Students who receive an Academic Warning for unprofessional behavior (5) above will be required to comply with the professional standards outlined in the Professional Conduct attestation, and sign a contract indicating that they will adhere to professional conduct at all times, and/or any additional measures that a faculty member deems necessary to meet safe and professional behaviors.  


  1. Dismissal from the Nursing program for academic reasons will occur in the semester following the Academic Warning if the requirements for successful remediation of the Academic Warning are not met. Additionally, students must maintain a GPA of 2.75 or greater for the remainder of the Nursing Program or will be dismissed. If the student is dismissed from the program, any petition for reentry will not be considered unless the student has experienced a catastrophic life event.
  2. Dismissal will occur for a student’s confirmed positive drug tests who fails to provide appropriate documentation from a health care provider. There is no appeal.
  3. Dismissal will occur for failure to meet Professional Standards Procedure whose clinical performance constitutes unsafe practice. There is no appeal.

Appeal of Dismissal for Catastrophic Reasons

If the student is dismissed from the program for academic reasons, a petition for reentry will be considered for a catastrophic life event that:  

(a) clearly impacted the student’s ability to be successful in the program; and   

(b) is documented by a third party (medical, legal, or death documentation) 

Reentry to the nursing program after dismissal is highly selective. Readmission decisions are based upon the student’s clear potential for future academic success in their course work, including the Evolve HESI exams (based on previous coursework and transcripts). Reentry to the program is not guaranteed.    

It is the responsibility of students to secure a copy of the dismissal policy from the office of the School of Nursing. This policy is in the Undergraduate Nursing Handbook. 
For additional information specific to the policy see the link to the NIU Nursing Student handbook found here: https://www.chhs.niu.edu/nursing/resources.shtml

Essential Performance Components

All students interested in enrolling and remaining in the undergraduate or graduate nursing program at NIU must possess performance component skills necessary to assess a patient’s biopsychosocial needs and to analyze collected data in order to identify patient problems, plan and implement independent and collaborative interventions, and evaluate the care provided and the patient’s responses to care. Specific observation, communication, motor cognitive, psychosocial, and behavioral requirements provide candidates with the ability to carry out the responsibilities of a student nurse providing direct or indirect patient care. A student must, with or without reasonable accommodation, possess these performance component skills upon admission to the nursing program and maintain these essential components throughout the program.

Manual Dexterity-use sterile technique; insert catheters (Foley, NG, IV); perform venipunctures; prepare medications and administer (PO, IM, IV); manipulate small objects (lancet, stopcock); open and close medication containers.
Mobility-remain at patient’s side for a prolonged period of time for purposes of monitoring and frequent assessments; perform CPR; assist in lifting and moving patients and patient care materials (bed, chair); move independently to and from patient care areas.
Processing Patient Information-respond to communication by patients with or without direct view of patient’s face; respond to monitor alarms, emergency signals, call bells from patients, and orders in a rapid and effective manner; accurately assess blood pressures, heart, lung, vascular, and abdominal sounds; accurately read a thermometer; identify cyanosis, absence of respirations, and movements of patients rapidly and accurately; accurately process information on medical containers, physicians’ orders, and monitor and equipment calibrations, printed documents, flow sheets, graphic sheets, medication administration records, and other medical records.
Math Competency-tell time; use measuring tools (tape measure, scale); add, subtract, multiply, and divide; record numbers; calculate medication dosages (PO, IM, IV) and intravenous solution rates.
Emotional Stability-provide emotional support to patients; adapt rapidly to environmental changes and multiple task demands (new admission, patient going to therapy or surgery); maintain adequate concentration and attention in patient care settings; maintain behavioral decorum in stressful situations (avoid inappropriate laughter, jokes, comments).
Cognitive Processing-transfer knowledge from one situation to another (classroom to patient care); assess patient needs based on understanding and synthesis of patient information (know comorbidities, complex problems); develop effective care plans based on assessments; prioritize tasks to ensure patient safety and standards of care (administer medications and treatments on time); organize and retain information in basic knowledge and skills areas (frequently administer medications and treatments).
Critical Thinking-identify cause and effect relationships (religious, ethnic, cultural); sequence information in a manner that is logical and understood by others; make sound clinical judgments and decisions based on standards of nursing care; seek assistance when clinical situation requires a higher level of expertise/experience.
Interpersonal/Communication Skills-respect differences in patients; establish and maintain effective working relations with patients and co-workers; teach and provide information in an accurate and effective manner; report critical patient information to other caregivers; convey information to others through graphic, print, and/or electronic media in an accurate, timely, and comprehensible manner.

Online R.N./B.S. Courses

Registered nurses who are seeking baccalaureate preparation leading to a B.S. degree with a major in nursing are served via online, technology-enhanced courses. Online course requirements coincide with on-campus requirements in the degree completion option. Students wishing additional information should contact the School of Nursing.

Nursing Faculty

Derryl Block, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, professor
Susan Caplan, Ph.D., Yale University, Chair, associate professor
Cathy Carlson, Ph.D., Indiana University, professor 
Jie Chen, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, associate professor 
Marcia Cooke, DNP, Loyola University, assistant professor
Katherine Coulter, DNP., Chamberlain College of Nursing, assistant professor
Kari Hickey, Ph.D., Illinois State University, associate professor
Mary Hintzsche, DNP, Rush University, clinical assistant professor 
Susan Matthew, DNP, Rush University, clinical assistant professor
Juan Mercado, DNP, University of Illinois, Chicago, clinical assistant professor
Elizabeth Moxley, Ph.D., University of Illinois, assistant professor
Nancy Petges, Ed.D., Northern Illinois University, assistant professor
Deborah Riddell, DNP., University of Illinois-Chicago, clinical assistant professor
Linda Rood, DNP, Southern Illinois University, clinical assistant professor  
Jeanette Rossetti, Ed.D., Northern Illinois University, Presidential Teaching Professor 
Anitha Saravanan, Ph.D., Loyola University, assistant professor
Cris Sabio, Ph.D., Capella University, assistant professor 
Tanya Tanzillo, DNP, Southern Illinois University, clinical assistant professor

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