National Health Science Standards

National Healthcare Foundation Standards & Accountability Criteria

National Consortium for Health Science Education Logo

May 2015

The National Health Science Standards provide a clear and consistent understanding of industry and post-secondary expectations for teachers and students. These standards are designed to provide the essential knowledge common across health professions to prepare and increase the number of students that are college and career ready.

Foundation Standard 1: Academic Foundation

Understand human anatomy, physiology, common diseases and disorders, and medical math principles.

1.1 Human Anatomy and Physiology
1.11        Identify basic levels of organization of the human body.

  1. Chemical
  2. Cellular
  3. Tissue
  4. Organs
  5. Systems
  6. Organism

1.12        Identify body planes, directional terms, cavities, and quadrants.

  1. Body planes (sagittal, mid-sagittal, coronal/frontal, transverse/horizontal).
  2. Directional terms (superior, inferior, anterior/ventral, posterior/dorsal, medial, lateral, proximal, distal, superficial, and deep).
  3. Cavities (dorsal, cranial, spinal, thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic).
  4. Quadrants (upper right, lower right, upper left, and lower left).

1.13        Analyze basic structures and functions of human body systems (skeletal, muscular, integumentary, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, nervous, special senses, endocrine, digestive, urinary, and reproductive).

  1. Skeletal (bone anatomy, axial and appendicular skeletal bones, functions of bones, ligaments, types of joints)
  2. Muscular (microscopic anatomy of muscle tissue, types of muscle, locations of skeletal muscles, functions of muscles, tendons, directional movements)
  3. Integumentary (layers, structures and functions of skin)
  4. Cardiovascular (components of blood, structures and functions of blood components, structures and functions of the cardiovascular system, conduction system of the heart, cardiac cycle)
  5. Lymphatic (structures and functions of lymphatic system, movement of lymph fluid)
  6. Respiratory (structures and functions of respiratory system, physiology of respiration)
  7. Nervous (structures and functions of nervous tissue and system, organization of nervous system)
  8. Special senses (structures and functions of eye, ear, nose and tongue; identify senses for sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
  9. Endocrine (endocrine versus exocrine, structures and functions of endocrine system, hormones, regulation of hormones)
  10. Digestive (structures and functions of gastrointestinal tract, chemical and mechanical digestion, structures and functions of accessory organs)
  11. Urinary (structures and functions of urinary system, gross and microscopic anatomy, process of urine formation, urine composition, homeostatic balance)
  12. Reproductive (structures and functions of male and female reproductive systems, formation of gametes, hormone production and effects, menstrual cycle, and conception)

1.2          Diseases and Disorders
1.21        Describe common diseases and disorders of each body system (such as: cancer, diabetes, dementia, stroke, heart disease, tuberculosis, hepatitis, COPD, kidney disease, arthritis, ulcers).

  1. Etiology
  2. Pathology
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Treatment
  5. Prevention

1.22        Discuss research related to emerging diseases and disorders (such as: autism, VRSA, PTSD, Listeria, seasonal flu).
1.23        Describe biomedical therapies as they relate to the prevention, pathology, and treatment of disease.

  1. Gene testing
  2. Gene therapy
  3. Human proteomics
  4. Cloning
  5. Stem cell research

1.3          Medical Mathematics
1.31        Demonstrate competency in basic math skills and mathematical conversions as they relate to healthcare.

  1. Metric system (such as: centi, milli, kilo)
  2. Mathematical (average, ratios, fractions, percentages, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
  3. Conversions (height, weight/mass, length, volume, temperature, household measurements)

1.32        Demonstrate the ability to analyze diagrams, charts, graphs, and tables to interpret healthcare results.
1.33        Demonstrate use of the 24-hour clock/military time.

Foundation Standard 2: Communications

Demonstrate methods of delivering and obtaining information, while communicating effectively.

2.1          Concepts of Effective Communication
2.11        Model verbal and nonverbal communication.
2.12        Identify common barriers to communication.

  1. Physical disabilities (aphasia, hearing loss, impaired vision)
  2. Psychological barriers (attitudes, bias, prejudice, stereotyping)

2.13        Identify the differences between subjective and objective information.
2.14        Interpret elements of communication using basic sender-receiver-message-feedback model.
2.15        Practice speaking and active listening skills.
2.16        Modify communication to meet the needs of the patient/client and be appropriate to the situation.

2.2          Medical Terminology
2.21        Use common roots, prefixes, and suffixes to communicate information.
2.22        Interpret medical abbreviations to communicate information.

  1. Common abbreviations
  2. Joint Commission official “Do Not Use List”

2.3          Written Communication Skills
2.31        Utilize proper elements of written and electronic communication (spelling, grammar, and formatting).
2.32        Prepare examples of technical, informative, and creative writing.

Foundation Standard 3: Systems

Identify how key systems affect services performed and quality of care.

3.1          Healthcare Delivery Systems
3.11        Compare healthcare delivery systems.

  1. Non-profit and for profit (such as: hospitals, ambulatory facilities, long-term care facilities, home health, medical and dental offices, mental health services)
  2. Government (such as: CDC, FDA, WHO, OSHA, Public Health systems/Health Departments, Veteran’s Administration)
  3. Non-profit (such as: March of Dimes, American Heart Association)

3.12        Describe the responsibilities of consumers within the healthcare system (such as: self-advocacy, patient compliance, provider and consumer obligations).
3.13        Assess the impact of emerging issues on healthcare delivery systems (such as: technology, epidemiology, bioethics, and socioeconomics).
3.14        Discuss healthcare economics and common methods of payment for healthcare.

  1. Private health insurance (such as: Blue Cross, Affordable Care Act – ACA)
  2. Managed care (such as: HMOs, PPOs, medical home)
  3. Government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and Workers’ Compensation)

Foundation Standard 4: Employability Skills

Utilize employability skills to enhance employment opportunities and job satisfaction.

4.1          Personal Traits of the Health Professional
4.11        Identify personal traits and attitudes desirable in a member of the career ready healthcare team.

  1. Acceptance of criticism
  2. Competence
  3. Dependability
  4. Discretion
  5. Empathy
  6. Enthusiasm
  7. Honesty
  8. Initiative
  9. Patience
  10. Responsibility
  11. Self-motivation
  12. Tact
  13. Team player
  14. Willingness to learn

4.12        Summarize professional standards as they apply to hygiene, dress, language, confidentiality and behavior.

4.2          Employability Skills
4.21        Apply employability skills in healthcare.

  1. Chain of command
  2. Correct grammar
  3. Decision making
  4. Flexible
  5. Initiative
  6. Integrity
  7. Loyalty
  8. Positive attitude
  9. Professional characteristics
  10. Prompt and prepared
  11. Responsibility
  12. Scope of practice
  13. Teamwork
  14. Willing to learn

4.3          Career Decision-making
4.31        Research levels of education, credentialing requirements, and employment trends in health professions.
4.32        Distinguish differences among careers within health science pathways (diagnostic services, therapeutic services, health informatics, support services, or biotechnology research and development).

4.4          Employability Preparation
4.41        Develop components of a personal portfolio.

  1. Letter of introduction
  2. Resume
  3. Sample Projects
  4. Writing Sample
  5. Work-based Learning Documentation
  6. Oral Report
  7. Service Learning/Community Service
  8. Credentials
  9. Technology Skills
  10. Leadership Examples

4.42        Identify strategies for pursuing employment (social media, personal networking, job sites, internships).

Foundation Standard 5: Legal Responsibilities

Describe legal responsibilities, limitations, and implications on healthcare worker actions.

5.1          Legal Responsibilities and Implications
5.11        Analyze legal responsibilities and implications of criminal and civil law.

  1. Malpractice
  2. Negligence
  3. Assault
  4. Battery
  5. Invasion of privacy
  6. Abuse
  7. Liable
  8. Slander

5.2          Legal Practices
5.21        Apply standards for the safety, privacy and confidentiality of health information (HIPAA, privileged communication).
5.22        Describe advance directives.
5.23        Summarize the essential characteristics of a patient’s basic rights within a healthcare setting.
5.24        Define informed consent.
5.25        Explain laws governing harassment and scope of practice.

Foundation Standard 6: Ethics

Understand accepted ethical practices with respect to cultural, social, and ethnic differences within the healthcare environment.

6.1          Ethical Practice
6.11        Differentiate between ethical and legal issues impacting healthcare.
6.12        Identify ethical issues and their implications related to healthcare (such as: organ donation, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, scope of practice, ethics committee).
6.13        Utilize procedures for reporting activities and behaviors that affect the health, safety, and welfare of others (such as: incident report).

6.2          Cultural, Social, and Ethnic Diversity
6.21        Discuss religious and cultural values as they impact healthcare (such as: ethnicity, race, religion, gender).
6.22        Demonstrate respectful and empathetic treatment of ALL patients/clients (such as: customer service, patient satisfaction, civility).

Foundation Standard 7: Safety Practices

Identify existing and potential hazards to clients, co-workers, and self. Employ safe work practices and follow health and safety policies and procedures to prevent injury and illness.

7.1          Infection Control
7.11        Explain principles of infection control.

  1. Chain of infection
  2. Mode of transmission (direct, indirect, vectors, common vehicle [air, food, water], healthcare-associated infections [nosocomial], opportunistic)
  3. Microorganisms (non-pathogenic, pathogenic, aerobic, anaerobic)
  4. Classifications (bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses, parasites)

7.12        Differentiate methods of controlling the spread and growth of microorganisms.

  1. Aseptic control (antisepsis, disinfection, sterilization, sterile technique)
  2. Standard precautions
  3. Isolation precautions
  4. Blood borne pathogen precautions
  5. Vaccinations

7.2          Personal Safety
7.21        Apply personal safety procedures based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regulations.
7.22        Demonstrate principles of body mechanics.

7.3          Environmental Safety
7.31        Apply safety techniques in the work environment.

  1. Ergonomics
  2. Safe operation of equipment
  3. Patient/client safety measures (check area for safety,

7.4          Common Safety Hazards
7.41        Observe all safety standards related to the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals Standard (Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)). (
7.42        Comply with safety signs, symbols, and labels.

7.5          Emergency Procedures and Protocols
7.51        Practice fire safety in a healthcare setting.
7.52        Apply principles of basic emergency response in natural disasters and other emergencies (safe location, contact emergency personnel, follow facility protocols)

Foundation Standard 8: Teamwork

Identify roles and responsibilities of individual members as part of the healthcare team.

8.1          Healthcare Teams
8.11        Evaluate roles and responsibilities of team members.

  1. Examples of healthcare teams
  2. Responsibilities of team members
  3. Benefits of teamwork

8.12        Identify characteristics of effective teams.

  1. Active participation
  2. Commitment
  3. Common goals
  4. Cultural sensitivity
  5. Flexibility
  6. Open to feedback
  7. Positive attitude
  8. Reliability
  9. Trust
  10. Value individual contributions

8.2          Team Member Participation
8.21        Recognize methods for building positive team relationships (such as: mentorships and teambuilding).
8.22        Analyze attributes and attitudes of an effective leader.

  1. Characteristics (interpersonal skills, focused on results, positive)
  2. Types (autocratic, democratic, laissez faire)
  3. Roles (sets vision, leads change, manages accountability)

8.23        Apply effective techniques for managing team conflict (negotiation, assertive communication, gather the facts, clear expectations, mediation).

Foundation Standard 9: Health Maintenance Practices

Differentiate between wellness and disease. Promote disease prevention and model healthy behaviors.

9.1          Healthy Behaviors
9.11        Promote behaviors of health and wellness (such as: nutrition, weight control, exercise, sleep habits).
9.12        Describe strategies for prevention of disease.

  1. Routine physical exams
  2. Medical, dental, and mental health screenings
  3. Community health education outreach programs
  4. Immunizations
  5. Stress management
  6. Avoid risky behaviors

9.13        Investigate complementary and alternative health practices as they relate to wellness and disease prevention (such as: Eastern medicine, holistic medicine, homeopathy, manipulative and natural therapies).

*Foundation Standard 10: Technical Skills

Apply technical skills required for all career specialties and demonstrate skills and knowledge as appropriate.

10.1        Technical Skills
10.11     Apply procedures for measuring and recording vital signs including the normal ranges (temperature, pulse, respirations, blood pressure, pain).
10.12     Obtain training or certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED), foreign body airway obstruction (FBAO) and first aid.
*Additional technical skills may be included in a program of study based on career specialties.

Foundation Standard 11: Information Technology Applications

Utilize and understand information technology applications common across health professions.

11.1        Key Principles of Health Information Systems
11.11     Identify types of data collected in Electronic Health Records/Electronic Medical Records (EHR or EMR) (such as: history and physical, medications, diagnostic tests, patient demographics).
11.12     Explore different types of health record data collection tools (such as: patient monitoring equipment, telemedicine, phone application, and medical wearable devices).
11.13     Identify the types and content of an EHR/EMR (such as: pharmacy, laboratory, radiology).
11.14     Create documentation in EHR/EMRs that reflect timeliness, completeness, and accuracy.
11.15     Adhere to information systems policies, procedures, and regulations as required by national, state, and local entities.

11.2        Privacy and Confidentiality of Health Information
11.21     Apply fundamentals of privacy and confidentiality policies and procedures (HIPAA).
11.22     Identify legal and regulatory requirements related to the use of personal health information (such as: Health Information Technology Act [HITECH Act], American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]).
11.23     Identify common policies and procedures for proper access, disclosure and protection of personal health information (such as: passwords, administrative safeguards, database security).
11.24     Describe consequences of inappropriate use of health data in terms of disciplinary action.
11.25     Understand the principle to correct inaccurate information/errors entered into an EHR/EMR (such as: adding, clarifying, and correcting information).

11.3        Basic Computer Skills
11.31     Apply basic computer concepts and terminology necessary to use computers and other mobile devices.
11.32     Demonstrate basic computer troubleshooting procedures (such as: restart, check power supply, refresh browser, check settings).
11.33     Demonstrate use of file organization and information storage.
11.34     Identify uses of basic word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications.
11.35     Evaluate validity of web-based resources.
11.36     Demonstrate appropriate usage of email and social media in a work environment (such as: work-related communications, personal texting on own time, appropriate language and content, use full language sentences).




© Nebraska Department of Education


Updated July 26, 2017 4:48pm