Harper College

Functional Abilities: Health Sciences Programs

General Functional Abilities

These are essential functions for admission and continuance in health career programs. Participants in health programs must possess the following functional abilities in order to provide safe and effective patient care. Some health programs have additional unique functional requirements.

Motor Capability

  1. Move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces.
  2. Squat, crawl, bend/stoop, reach above shoulder level, use standing balance, and climb stairs.
  3. Lift and carry up to 50 lbs., and exert up to 100 lbs. force or push/pull.
  4. Use hands repetitively; use manual dexterity; sufficient fine motor function.
  5. Must be able to walk and stand for extended periods of time.
  6. Perform CPR.
  7. Travel to and from academic and clinical sites.

Sensory Capability

  1. Coordinate verbal and manual instruction.
  2. Auditory ability sufficient to hear verbal communication from clients and members of the health team; includes ability to respond to emergency signals.
  3. Discern soft sounds, such as those associated with taking a blood pressure.
  4. Visual acuity to acquire information from documents such as charts.
  5. Comfortable working in close physical proximity to patient.

Communication Ability

  1. Communicate effectively in English with patients, families, and other health care providers, both verbally and in writing.
  2. Effectively adapt communication for intended audience.
  3. Interact; establish rapport with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds.
  4. Assume the role of a health care team member.
  5. Function effectively under supervision.
  6. Sufficient command of the English language in order to retrieve information from lectures, textbooks, as well as understand medical terminology.
  7. Skills include computer literacy.

Problem Solving Ability

  1. Function effectively under stress.
  2. Respond appropriately to emergencies.
  3. Adhere to infection control procedures.
  4. Demonstrate problem-solving skills in patient care.  (Measure, calculate, reason, prioritize, and synthesize data.)
  5. Use sound judgment and safety precautions.
  6. Address problems or questions to the appropriate persons at the appropriate time.
  7. Organize and prioritize job tasks.

Behavioral Skills and Professionalism

  1. Follow policies and procedures required by academic and clinical settings.
  2. Adheres to Harper College Academic Honesty Policy (per College catalog).
  3. Adheres to Harper College Code of Conduct (per College catalog).
  4. Abides by the guidelines set forth in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA, the national privacy act). 

Unique Functional Abilities

In addition to the General Functional Abilities that are necessary to all Health Career Programs, certain health career programs require functional abilities that are unique to their field. Please click the health career program to read more. 

Imaging Programs: Diagnostic Cardiac and Medical Sonography, Radiologic Technology

These functions are essential for admission and continuance in the Harper College Imaging programs.

Motor Capability 

  • Good eye hand coordination, ability to visualize in 3 dimensions, good gross and fine motor skills, quick reflexes, and a steady hand.
  • Good physical stamina to stand all day, push heavy ultrasound equipment, rearrange furniture, and position large patients.
  • Freedom from musculoskeletal injury as sonography repetitively engages certain musculoskeletal areas and has a high incidence of musculoskeletal injury to the wrist, arm, shoulder, neck and back.

Sensory Capability 

  • Discern fine detail and variations in gray shades, color, shape and texture.

Problem Solving Ability

  • Quickly obtain images, identify and process the information on the screen, and make critical decisions regarding next steps
  • Pay attention for long periods of time i.e. for entire ultrasound study (up to 60 minutes) and every ultrasound study (8-12 per day)

Dental Hygiene Program

Motor Capability

  • Ability to provide dental hygiene care utilizing direct and indirect (reverse) vision.
  • Fine and gross motor function to perform precise instrumentation procedures.
  • Wrist, hand and finger dexterity to perform fine motor function without tremor.

Sensory Capability

  • Observe fine detail; discern variations in color, shape and texture.
  • Discern sounds such as those associated with taking patient blood pressure.

Communication Ability 

  • Provide presentations to larger audiences to peer and community groups.

Dietetic Technician 

Sensory Capability

  • Ability to distinguish colors and shades of color (for teaching, for use of various menus and tools)

Massage Therapist (MTP)

Motor Capability

  • Health in the joints of the hands, wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders, backs, neck, knees, hips.
  • Strength to mobilize patient's limbs during massage therapy treatments and assist patients with impaired mobility.
  • Stamina to stand for several hours at a time while working with patients.

Sensory Capability

  • Sensory function to perform precise palpation assessments to discern through touch the quality of patient's soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc).
  • Visual ability to read patient chart as well as assess patient's movement, posture and skin integrity.
  • Must have excellent handwriting and grammar skills in English to document in patient's charts and provide other written communications.

Cognitive Capability

  • Capability to learn and retain knowledge from the study of human anatomy and physiology, with specific focus on musculoskeletal anatomy and kinesiology (e.g. muscle attachments and the ways in which muscles create movement) and to translate that knowledge into a treatment plan to best meet the patient's goals.

Behavioral Skills and Professionalism

  • Ability to act with integrity with regard to patient confidentiality, professional and personal boundaries and standards of professional ethics.
  • Ability to address patient goals within the time-frame of the allotted treatment session.
  • Ability to quickly build professional rapport with a new patient, determine the patient's goals, synthesize a treatment plan taking into account the patient's health history, and communicate the proposed treatment plan to get the patient's informed consent for treatment.
  • Ability to work effectively independently and/or with supervision.
  • Comfortable making skin-to-skin contact with patients while maintaining professional boundaries.

Medical Office Administration (MOA)

Motor Capability

  • Hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, back, and neck health.
  • Fine and gross motor function to perform precise instrumentation procedures such as blood drawing and giving injections.

Sensory Capability (All Medical Assistant Programs)

  • Must have excellent handwriting and grammar skills in English to document inpatient's charts and provide other written communications.

Medical Assisting

  • Must be able to communicate via telephone with insurance companies, patients, and managed care organizations.

Nursing Programs: RN and PNC

Sensory Capability

  • Visual ability sufficient to assess a patient and accurately prepare and administer medication.


Motor Skills and Mobility

  • Dexterity and fine motor skills to perform blood collection and specimen manipulation.
  • Good eye hand coordination and a steady hand.
  • Physical ability to maneuver within patient collection areas to collect specimens.
  • Select appropriate site for venipuncture, assemble equipment and collect specimen(s) using correct order of draw and according to policy and procedure.


  • Visual ability to read the printed word on paper or a computer monitor.
  • Visual ability to distinguish gradients of colors Note: Color blindness does not necessarily preclude admission to the program.
  • Tactile perception (also called touch perception, is the brain’s ability to understand (perceive) information coming from the skin, particularly the skin on the hands) to perform blood draws using assorted devices.
  • Sensory function to perform precise palpation assessments to discern though touch veins, arteries and tendons in patients’ arms and hands when performing venipunctures.


  • Perform phlebotomy procedures with speed and accuracy in changing, distracting, and/or stressful environment.
  • Ability to work effectively independently and/or with supervision.
Last Updated: 4/8/24