Dec 02, 2022  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Practical Nursing Certificate

Academic Program Code:  371

GRCC’s Nursing Programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN; 3390 Peachtree Rd. NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30326), as well as the Michigan Board of Nursing. Our programs offer a mixture of classroom instruction and clinical lab work that provides direct, hands-on healthcare experience.

Graduates of the Practical Nursing Program are qualified to sit for the state licensure exam NCLEX-PN. Individuals already working as licensed practical nurses may qualify for advanced standing in the department’s associate’s degree program, putting them on a faster track toward completing graduation requirements (LPNs wanting to apply for Advanced Standing in the Associate Degree Program must have completed 2000 hours of work experience as an LPN prior to applying).

GRCC Nursing graduates successfully complete licensure exams at rates above the national and state averages. A variety of clinical partnerships provide learning opportunities for nursing students while also connecting graduates with potential employers. Not surprisingly, our graduates leave here with excellent job prospects.  For more information about GRCC’s nursing programs, please visit our website at  You may also contact the nursing department at or call 616.234.4238.

Program Admissions Requirements

In order to be eligible for admission into the Practical Nursing (PN) program, students must:

1. Be high school graduates or have passed the high school equivalency GED (General Educational Development) Test.

2. Have a high school grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0, or a college GPA of at least 2.0, which will be used for students with 12 or more college credits.  

3. All students must demonstrate competency in math within the last 5 years to be eligible.  Math competency can be demonstrated through the following ways:

  • SAT Math subsection score of 25 or Higher
  • ACT Math score of 18 or Higher
  • Completion of MA 098 or higher with a grade of C or better
  • Math Placement Test (ALEKS) with a score of 30 or Higher

Students who do not meet the above criteria for math competency must complete MA 098 (or above) with a grade of “C” (or Higher). Contact the Health Admissions Department for details at or 616 234-4348.

4. Applicants must have successfully completed all Academic Foundational Courses. This applies to students whose GPA and ACT, SAT, or Placement Test scores place them into Academic Foundational courses. Students with 12 or more college credits are still required to take the Math Placement Test, unless they can demonstrate competency per the math requirements.

5. Score at least 75% on the HESI A2 Admission Assessment (fee). This test assesses knowledge in reading, vocabulary, grammar, and math.

6. Have a negative urine drug screen and complete the criminal background check process. Students will not be allowed to enter the program until cleared by GRCC police. This is a requirement of the Nursing Programs as clinical facilities are required to follow Michigan Public Acts 27, 28, and 29 of 2006. Without a clear criminal background, it is possible a student would not be allowed to participate in clinical activities and thus, be unable to complete the GRCC Nursing Programs. For additional information, refer to the Health Programs general information page.

To be eligible for the program completion certificate, Practical Nursing students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 and be in good academic standing. All General Education courses, including sciences courses, must be successfully completed with a grade of “C” (or Higher) [As with all nursing courses, a grade of “B-” (or Higher) is required in NUR 100]. Once in the program, students must achieve at least a “B-” (or Higher) in each of the required Practical Nursing courses to be eligible for graduation.

Practical Nursing Students must pass GH 125   or BI 117   with a grade of C or higher within 2 attempts total (this is not 2 attempts at each course).  In lieu of taking BI 117 or GH 125, Practical Nursing students may take BI 121   and BI 122  .  Students taking BI 121 and B1 122 for entry in to the Practical Nursing Program are permitted 2 attempts at each course to achieve a grade of C or higher. 

However, the Nursing Department strongly recommends that a Practical Nursing student attempting BI 121 and BI 122, who has not completed BOTH BI 121 and BI 122 within a combined 3 attempts (a combined 3 attempts is 2 attempts at BI 121 followed by a first attempt at BI 122) enroll in GH 125 or BI 117 to enhance their opportunity for success.

Any student taking BI 121 and 122 for admission to the Practical Nursing program and who has not completed both of these courses in 3 total attempts should contact the Nursing Department for additional guidance.

Students, who are unsuccessful on a subsequent attempt in BI 122, BI 117, or GH 125, will not be eligible for the Practical Nursing Program.  Students will be considered eligible to apply for the Practical Nursing Program again in 3 years from the semester of their last unsuccessful Biology or GH 125 course attempt.

Example Scenarios that will result in a student being ineligible for the Nursing Programs (not inclusive of all scenarios):

Student A:
GH 125 – E
GH 125 – C-
Student is ineligible for PN program and may reapply in 3 years from the semester of the last unsuccessful GH 125 attempt.

Student B:
BI 117 – W
GH 125 – C-
Student is ineligible for PN program and may reapply in 3 years from the semester of the last unsuccessful GH (or Biology 117) attempt.

Student C:
BI 121 first attempt – C-
BI 121 second attempt - B
BI 122 first attempt – W
BI 122 second attempt – D+
Student is ineligible for the PN program and may reapply in 3 years from the semester of the last unsuccessful attempt (regardless if they subsequently take and pass GH 125 or BI 117).

Student D:
BI 121 first attempt – E
BI 121 second attempt – B
BI 122 first attempt – D+
*GH 125 or BI 117 first attempt – C-
Student is ineligible for the PN program and may reapply in 3 years from the semester of the last unsuccessful attempt (regardless if they subsequently take and pass GH 125 or BI 117 on a second attempt)

Examples scenarios that will result in being eligible for the Practical Nursing Program:

Student E:
BI 117 - C-
GH 125 - A-
Student is eligible for PN program now

Student F:
BI 121 first attempt – D+
BI 121 second attempt – B
BI 122 first attempt – C-
*GH 125 or BI 117 first attempt – B+
Student is eligible for PN program now

*Recommended course pathway after not completing BI 121 and BI 122 in a combined 3 attempts

NOTE: Life science courses (BI 117, BI 121, BI 122, and GH 125) must have been completed within eight years of graduation/completion of the Nursing Program at GRCC (This includes Life Science courses that are transferred in from other institutions regardless of the date on which they are transferred).

Students who have had an unsuccessful attempt at a Biology or Life Science course (GH 125), or who have questions regarding the Biology requirements and next steps should contact the Nursing Department at 616/234-4238 or via email at

Any student placed on Academic Suspension while on the waitlist or while enrolled in the Practical Nursing program, will be withdrawn. Students wishing to pursue nursing after this may re-apply after following GRCC’s academic suspension policy and returning to good academic standing.  For additional Nursing Programs policies and guidelines, please consult the Nursing Student Handbook.

At GRCC, opportunities exist for graduates of the Practical Nursing program to enter the Associate Degree Nursing program with advanced standing. Students interested in following this path should contact the Nursing Department or view the Nursing Programs Web site ( for additional information.

Pre-Program Requirements

Students must complete the following courses prior to formal acceptance into the Practical Nursing Program:
GH 125 , NUR 100 , EN 101 , and PY 201  

Total Credit Hours


Essential Abilities/Technical Standards

The Grand Rapids Community College Nursing Department faculty has specified essential abilities and technical standards critical to the success of students in any GRCC Nursing Department program. Students must demonstrate these essential abilities to succeed in their program of study. Qualified applicants are expected to meet all admission criteria and matriculating students are expected to meet all progression criteria, as well as these essential abilities essential abilities and technical standards with or without reasonable accommodations.

1. Essential judgment skills to include: ability to identify, assess, comprehend, and interpret medical or health related issues/situations for the purpose of coming to appropriate conclusions and/or prioritizing a course of action(s) in the provision of Nursing Care. Critical Thinking - The student must possess sufficient abilities in the areas of calculation, critical problem solving, reasoning, and judgment to be able to comprehend and process information within a reasonable time frame as determined by the faculty and the profession. The student must be able to prioritize, organize and attend to tasks and responsibilities efficiently. This includes, but is not limited to: Ability to collect, interpret and analyze written, verbal and observed data about clients, families, and environments. Ability to prioritize multiple tasks, integrate information and make decisions. Ability to apply knowledge of the principles, indications, and contraindications for nursing interventions. Ability to act safely and ethically in the college clinical lab and in clinical placements within the community

2. Essential physical/neurological functions to include: ability to use the senses of seeing, hearing, touch, and smell to make correct judgments regarding Nursing Care and meet physical expectations to perform required interventions for the purpose of demonstrating competence to safely engage in the practice of Nursing. Behaviors that demonstrate essential neurological and physical functions include, but are not limited to observation, listening, understanding relationships, writing, and psychomotor abilities consistent with course and program expectations.

Motor - The student must possess sufficient motor capabilities to execute the movements and skills required to provide safe and effective nursing interventions. These include, but are not limited to:

Coordination - speed and agility to assist and safely guard (protect), with safe and proper body mechanics, clients who are ambulating, transferring, or performing other activities.

Strength and Flexibility - ability to adjust and position equipment and clients, which involves bending or stooping freely to floor level and reaching above the head.

Lifting - ability to move or position clients and equipment, which involves lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing up to and including 30 pounds.

Physical Mobility - ability to guide, resist, and assist clients, or to provide emergency care, which involves the activities of standing, kneeling, sitting, or walking.

Manual Dexterity – fine motor skills, including the ability and dexterity to manipulate the devices and other small objects used in providing nursing care.

Lung Capacity - ability to administer CPR without assistance.

Sensory - The student must possess the ability to obtain information in classroom, laboratory or clinical settings through observation, auscultation, palpation and other measures, including but not limited to:

Visual Ability - (corrected as necessary) to recognize and interpret facial expressions and body language, identify normal and abnormal patterns of movement, to read or set parameters on various equipment, to discriminate color changes, and to interpret and assess the environment.

Auditory Ability - (corrected as necessary) to recognize and respond to soft voices, auditory timers, equipment alarms, call bells, and to effectively use devices for measurement of blood pressure, breath sounds, etc.

Tactile Ability - to palpate a pulse and to detect changes or abnormalities of surface texture, skin temperature, body contour, muscle tone, and joint movement.

Mobility - Sufficient position, movement and balance sensations to assist and safely guard (protect) clients who are ambulating, transferring or performing other activities.

3. Essential communication skills to include: ability to communicate effectively with fellow students, faculty, patients, clients and their families, other health care providers and staff, as well as all members of the Nursing Department. Skills include verbal, written, and nonverbal abilities as well as information technology skills consistent with effective communication. This includes, but is not limited to: Reading - ability to read at a competency level that allows one to safely carry out the essential functions of an assignment (examples: handwritten chart data, printed policy and procedure manuals). Interpretation - ability to effectively interpret and process information. Communication - ability to effectively communicate (verbally and in writing) with clients/families, health care professionals, and others within the community. Technology – ability to access information and collect data, as well as to communicate and document effectively via computer. Perception - Ability to recognize, interpret, and appropriately respond to nonverbal behavior of self and others.

4. Essential emotional coping skills: ability to manage potential stressors that accompany tasks necessary to safely engage in the practice of Nursing as determined by professional standards of practice. The student must be capable of exercising good judgment, developing empathic and therapeutic relationships with clients and others, and tolerating close and direct physical contact with a diverse population. This will include people of all ages, races, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, as well as individuals with weight disorders, physical disfigurement and medical or mental health problems. This also includes, but is not limited to: Ability to work with multiple clients/families and colleagues at the same time. Ability to work with classmates, instructors, health care providers, clients, families and others under stressful conditions, including but not limited to providing care to medically or emotionally unstable individuals, situations requiring rapid adaptations, the provision of CPR, or other emergency interventions. Ability to foster and maintain cooperative and collegial relationships with classmates, instructors, other health care providers, clients and their families.

5. Essential intellectual/conceptual skills to include: ability to measure, calculate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate to engage competently in the safe practice of Nursing. These abilities include an aptitude for rapid problem solving, the capability to access and interpret medical files independently, conduct physical examinations and interpret findings, and to formulate a logical plan of care. Students must possess good judgment in patient assessment, and the abilities to incorporate new information, comprehend three-dimensional relationships, and retain and recall pertinent information in a timely fashion. The student must also be prepared to provide in-depth rationale for plan of care.

6. Other essential behavioral attributes: ability to engage in activities consistent with safe Nursing practice without demonstrated behaviors of addiction to, abuse of, or dependence on alcohol or other drugs that may impair behavior or judgment. The student must demonstrate responsibility and accountability for actions as a student in the Nursing Program and as a developing professional in the Field of Nursing consistent with accepted standards of practice. Grand Rapids Community College strives to be more than ADA compliant. We strive to be accessible and welcoming to all students of all abilities.

After reviewing the Essential Abilities/Technical Standards for this program; your responsibilities as a student entail determining if you can complete all associated coursework either:

A. With Accommodation. I am otherwise qualified to meet the same academic standards as any other student entering the program. However, based on a medically documented condition or diagnosis, I would qualify for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). I will meet with Disability Support Services on campus to arrange those accommodations in an interactive process with the department of Nursing.

B. Without Accommodation. I am able to complete the program without need for reasonable accommodation or modification. In the event my medical documentation reveals otherwise or a condition manifests that would necessitate an accommodation; it is my responsibility to inform a responsible authority figure within the Department of Nursing and work with Disability Support Services to see if a reasonable accommodation or modification can be made. If you have a medically documented condition or diagnosis, please contact the Nursing Department office, or contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at or by phone at 616.234.4140 to arrange accommodations through our interactive process.