The utility of essential functions in clinical laboratory science programs.Clin Lab Sci 2011; 24(4 Suppl):4-21-30CL
Essential functions (EF) define the nonacademic criteria used to determine an individual's qualifications for admission and capabilities of performing in the classroom and laboratory with or without reasonable accommodations. Directors of NAACLS approved and accredited programs were surveyed to investigate their knowledge and perceptions of EF and associations with disabilities and student behaviors.
This was a non-experimental survey consisting of questions related to the use of essential functions (EF) and student behaviors in NAACLS laboratory programs. SurveyMonkey was used to electronically provide the survey of 33 questions to 564 NAACLS programs.
Descriptive statistics were reported as aggregate data with a response rate of 267 (47.3%). EF are utilized in 95.5% of the programs; however, only 38.6% of the participants responded that EF are required by both the ADA and NAACLS. A student had never been dismissed based on EF in 80.0% of the programs. Many programs have been successful in mentoring students with disabilities to successful completion. Hearing impairment was the most reported disability (30.0%). Participants felt most comfortable referring students for academic coaching (96.2%) when compared to medical concerns (86.5%), and psychological concerns (82.7%).
While most programs utilized EF, many program directors were not aware that EF are required by both NAACLS and the ADA. Programs have successfully instructed and graduated students with a variety of disabilities and generally feel comfortable in referring students for assistance. Concerns with inappropriate behaviors present unique, generational challenges to faculty.