Graduate Program Student Handbook

4. Policies & Procedures

4.1 Academic Integrity


The University expects all members of the academic community to behave with academic integrity. Academic misconduct is any attempt to misrepresent one’s performance on any exercise submitted for evaluation. This includes but is not limited to, cheating, fabrication and falsification, multiple submissions, plagiarism, abuse of academic materials, and complicity in academic dishonesty. Infractions known by any person should be brought to the attention of the faculty member to whose course it pertains. Infractions may result in actions including, but not limited to, counseling, reprimand, grade of F or grade reduction for either the work in question or for the course. 

Conduct

Faculty and students are responsible for maintaining a professional atmosphere in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical setting. This includes, but is not limited to, arriving on time; being respectful of faculty, guest speakers, agency staff, preceptors, and classmates; and actively participating in the learning process. Activated cell phones and pagers are not allowed in the classroom, laboratory, or clinical setting.  

Any faculty member has the right to remove any student from the classroom, laboratory, or clinical area if, in the faculty member’s judgment, the student is being disruptive, presents an unprofessional appearance or in any way is a threat to patient safety or comfort. 

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as intentionally or knowingly presenting the work of another as one's own (i.e., without proper acknowledgement of the source).  The sole exception to the requirement of acknowledging sources is when the ideas, information, etc. are common knowledge.



4.2 Accommodations Due to Disability


Students with disabilities who seek reasonable accommodations in the classroom or other aspects of performing their coursework must first register with the UNF Disability Resource Center (DRC) located in Building 10, Room 1201. DRC staff members work with students to obtain required documentation of disability and to identify appropriate accommodations as required by applicable disability laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After receiving all necessary documentation, the DRC staff determines whether a student qualifies for services with the DRC and if so, the accommodations the student will be provided. DRC staff then prepares a letter for the student to provide faculty advising them of approved accommodations. For further information, contact the DRC by phone (904) 620-2769, email, or visit the DRC website. It is the student’s responsibility to request this memorandum from the Disabled Services Program of the requested accommodations and to deliver this to the faculty involved at the beginning of each semester.

4.3 Appeal Procedure


Students who wish to appeal a grade or program decision affecting them should follow this procedure. The purpose of this procedure is to provide a mechanism for handling appeals at the School of Nursing level.

  1. Any problem regarding a course should first be discussed with the faculty member involved. 
  2. Any problem regarding a program decision should be discussed with the academic advisor.
  3. Following the discussion with the instructor or advisor, if not satisfied, the student can pursue the matter with the Director of the School of Nursing.
  4. If the student wishes formally to appeal the matter, the student should use the attached form to outline the problem and submit it to the Director
  5. The Director will formally review the problem. In case of a grade appeal, the School of Nursing Director will convene the School of Nursing Appeals Committee. This committee will be composed of three nursing faculty not involved in the course and two student representatives. The committee will act in an advisory capacity to the Director.
  6. The matter in question will then come before the committee in a scheduled meeting. Both the faculty member and the student will be notified of the meeting time and place. Each will have the opportunity to appear separately before the committee. After hearing both sides, the committee will submit a written recommendation to the School.
  7. The Director, after reviewing the committee's report, will make a decision on the matter. This decision will be forwarded in writing to both the instructor and student.
  8. If the student wishes to pursue the matter after the Director’s decision, she/he should refer to the UNF Academic Appeals Process in the UNF Student Handbook.


4.4 Attendance


Students are expected to be present for all classes, laboratory and clinical experiences, other learning experiences, and examinations. Students who have extraordinary circumstances preventing attendance should explain these circumstances to the course instructor prior to the scheduled class or clinical lab, or as soon as possible thereafter. Instructors will then make an effort to accommodate reasonable requests. A grade penalty may be assigned for the late assignments, including tests.

4.5 Course and Faculty Evaluations


Students evaluate each faculty member as well as each course in the School of Nursing every semester using a variety of tools. Students are encouraged to take time to fill out the evaluations completely, honestly and accurately, for the results from each course are carefully reviewed by the faculty member involved for the purposes of self-improvement and as part of on-going course improvement. The results are also reviewed by the Director of the School of Nursing as a part of the annual evaluation of the faculty member's instructional performance and are used in promotion and tenure decisions at UNF. 

4.6 Credit Transfer Policy


Students are allowed to transfer no more than 6 credit hours into the program. These credits must have been earned no longer than 5 years prior to enrollment in the program with the exception of the pharmacotherapeutics course which must be within 3 years of enrollment. 

NGR courses taken at UNF as non-degree status may not be transferred into the program. 



4.7 Evaluation and Grade Determination


Assignments

All course assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date due, or if the date due is not a class day by 5:00 p.m. in the School of Nursing office, stamped by time clock, unless otherwise determined by the specific course faculty. The instructor for the course may individually grant acceptance of late coursework without penalty. It is the student's responsibility to request such an exception  prior to the due date. If permission to submit coursework late has not been individually granted by the respective faculty member, 5 points will be deducted for the first 24 hours overdue and an additional 5 points (for a total of 10 points) will be deducted for assignments overdue more than 24 hours. No assignments will be accepted more than 7 days late without special permission from the respective faculty member in the course for which the assignment was due. 

Calculation of Grades

The final grade for each student will be the result of the faculty’s judgment about how well the student met the course objectives. The following guidelines will be utilized in making that judgment: 


 

 Grading Scale
A 92-100
A- 90-91
B+ 88-89
B 82-87
B- 80-81
C+ 78-79
C 75-77     75 is the minimal passing grade  
D 60-74
F <60

 

All performance objectives are stated at the minimum level meaning they are stated with the expected standard of achievement of a graduate student entitling him/her to a “C.” 

 

Each lab and clinical nursing course has a theory and practice component. A satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) grade is given for the practice component. A grade below C in the theory or U in clinical practice results in a failing grade for the course. 

 

In order to achieve a passing grade in a course in which tests are a portion of the course grade, the minimum test average must be 75. If and only if, the minimum test average of 75 is achieved, will the other course grades will be counted toward the final course grade. Regardless of the other grades achieved in the course, a student achieving less than a 75 test average will have failed to successfully complete the course, and will be given a grade of D (if between 60 and 74) or F (if < 60). If the learner fails to achieve the minimum average of 75% on written examinations, other course assignment grades will not be added together and the course grade will be that grade achieved on the written examinations. 

Clinical Evaluation

Clinical experience will be evaluated based on achievement of course and program objectives through faculty observation, verbal communication with student, written work, and agency staff reports, using a School of Nursing clinical evaluation form. Faculty reserve the right to alter clinical experiences, including removal from patient care areas, of any student to maintain patient safety and to provide instructional experiences to support student learning. 

 

A rating of satisfactory represents satisfactory performance and a rating of unsatisfactory represents unsatisfactory performance. All areas will be evaluated. Regardless of theory grade, a student receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation in the clinical component of a course will be assigned a course grade of F. 

Exams

All students must notify the course faculty in advance when they are unable to attend a class. If an exam was scheduled for that time period, the student must speak directly with the respective faculty member to arrange a makeup date. All makeup exams must be taken prior to the next class session. If students do not notify course faculty of their absence prior to the scheduled examand arrange for a makeup date, the grade for the exam will be an “F”. At the discretion of the course faculty, alternate forms of an exam may be used for a make-up exam and late points may be deducted. In the case of computerized exams, points may also be deducted, at the faculty’s discretion, for going over the time limit on the exam. 



4.8 Fit for Duty


The following shall be grounds for disciplinary action set forth in this policy: being unable to practice nursing with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, or chemicals or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition.  

   

In enforcing this policy, the School of Nursing shall have, upon a finding that probable cause exists to believe that the student is unable to practice nursing because of the reasons stated in this policy, the authority to have the student leave the clinical site and issue an order to compel the student to submit to a mental or physical examination by a physician. If the student refuses to comply with such order, automatic administrative withdrawal from University courses will occur. Students affected by the provisions of this policy shall at reasonable intervals be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate that they can resume the competent practice of nursing with reasonable skill and safety to patients.  

   

If deemed competent, the student may apply for readmission to the program. 



4.9 Health Policy


General

  

  • Upon entry into the School of Nursing, all students who will be involved in patient care activities while in their graduate program must submit the Health Examination Form, signed by a licensed independent health care provider, before final acceptance to study in the School of Nursing. 
 
  • Upon entry into the School of Nursing, all students who will be involved in patient care activities while in their graduate program must also provide documentation that the following immunizations have been received:  
 
      1) Varicella immunity (protection against Chicken Pox) 
     

Student’s positive serological titer must be provided. It is the student’s responsibility to provide documentation of progression on the series and the positive titer. 

  

If the titer is negative, the varicella vaccine (a series of 2 immunizations 1-month apart) must be received, with another titer 4-6 weeks after the second immunization. If the titer remains negative, no further immunizations or titers are required. 


 

     

2)  Hepatitis B immunity (protection against Hepatitis B)

       Students who have not previously completed the series of three injections must initiate the series upon acceptance into the program, with the first injection in the series prior to the first day of classes, and complete the series during their first year in the program. Final immunity will be documented by a positive serological titer. It is the student’s responsibility to provide documentation of progression on the series and the positive titer.

 

If the initial titer is negative, the complete series of three immunizations must be repeated according to the CDC schedule with a second titer 4-6 weeks after completion of the third immunization. If the titer remains negative, no further immunizations or titers are required. 

   

      3) Tuberculosis
      All students taking clinical nursing courses are required to have satisfactory evidence of a non‑reactive response to a skin test for TB on an annual basis. It is the student’s responsibility to submit written documentation of the result for inclusion in the student file. In the event of a reactive response to the test, documentation of medical follow-up must be provided. NOTE: Students who have a prior history of a positive reaction should submit documentation of a negative chest x-ray rather than undergoing repeat skin testing. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that the nursing office receives a copy of new Tb skin test results prior to end of the semester before which the Tb test will be out of date.

 

  • All nursing students involved in patient care activities are required to receive seasonal influenza vaccinations annually. Based on dates of vaccine release/local availability, a date will be established annually by which vaccination must be accomplished. Students will be advised of this date. Students not vaccinated by this date will be prohibited from any further clinical experiences until the requirement is met. Exception:  Allergy to any component of the vaccine, or any other contraindication to vaccination, which is documented in a student’s health record. If institutions with which the University of North Florida affiliates for student clinical experiences establish more stringent requirements, those requirements shall supersede this policy. 
 

Critical Incident and Accident Reports

Incident and accident reports are very important for students and for the safety of the patient. If at any time during lab or clinical practice, some type of accident or unusual situation occurs the student should document the accident or incident as per the agency protocol. The supervising faculty will counsel a student who receives a critical incident report that is indicative of unsafe practice. The faculty member and student together should also write a brief summary of the incident (on a “green sheet” to be placed in the student’s clinical file. 

Financial Responsibility for Health Care 

All students and faculty will be expected to assume responsibility for their own health care except for emergency care during the hours engaged in clinical experience. In the event that a student or faculty member of the School of Nursing should become ill or suffer an injury in the course of their activities while at a clinical agency, the agency shall initiate emergency medical care. However, the clinical agency assumes no financial liability for medical care provided by the clinical agency or others. The student and not the University or the clinical agency will be responsible for expenses incurred. Students are strongly encouraged to have personal health care insurance. 

Safety Tips from the UNF Campus Police Department

  • Stay alert and tuned in to your surrounding! Look and listen. 
  • Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, leave. 
  • Send the message that you are confident and know where you’re going. 
  • Avoid places or situations that put you at risk. 
  • Avoid “predictability.” Varying your routine or route may decrease your vulnerability to crime. 
  • Carry a purse close to your body. 
  • Avoid short cuts through wooded areas or alleys. 
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas. 
  • Keep your vehicle in good running order. The two most common vehicle problems are “out of gas” and a “flat tire.” 
  • Check/look inside the vehicle BEFORE getting in. 
  • Have the key “in hand” that gets you inside the vehicle (this is especially true if the ignition key and door lock key are different) 
  • When driving, lock your vehicle’s doors. 

Above all else, if you are a victim, contact the local police department. 



4.10 Incomplete Grades


An incomplete grade may only be given to a student who is progressing satisfactorily in a  nursing course and who, for valid reasons, as determined by the faculty member, did not complete the work of the nursing course within the term. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the course faculty to request consideration of an incomplete grade. This request must be made prior to the last day of class. (See UNF catalog – incomplete grades). 

   

An incomplete grade may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor as an interim grade for a course in which the student has: (a) completed a major portion of the course with a passing grade, (b) been unable to complete course requirements prior to the end of the term because of extenuating circumstances, and (c) obtained agreement from the instructor and arranged for resolution of the incomplete grade. 

   

Written assignments for completion of course work shall be mutually agreed upon by the student and instructor. An incomplete grade report form is filed with the date by which the “I” grade must be removed. The School of Nursing requires that an incomplete grade in a clinical nursing course be removed prior to registering the next clinical nursing course.   

   

It is the student’s responsibility to be alert to the withdrawal date each semester. An incomplete (I) will NOT automatically substitute for a withdrawal. After the withdrawal date, a student may petition to receive a W/P or W/F by completing a petition form provided by the Student Records Office. The form requires approval signatures from the faculty member for the respective course, The Nursing Advisor and the Chairman of the School of Nursing. 

   

The final grade for each student will be the result of the faculty’s judgment concerning the degree to which course objectives were met. 



4.11 Licensure & Certification


Nursing License

All graduate students are required to maintain an active licenseto practice nursing in the State of Florida. This is an admission requirement for the MSN program. In addition, students should bring their nursing license to the first class of all clinical courses for approval from respective faculty responsible for the clinical course. Students are responsible for documenting renewal updates with faculty during the semester itself. 

CPR Certification

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is required for all students enrolled in clinical nursing courses. This certification must include one and two rescuer CPR, Infant and Child CPR, and the use of the automated defibrillator device (AED). Students must submit a copy of their certification to respective faculty responsible for the clinical course in order that verification is on file. If verification is not submitted upon course enrollment the student will not be permitted to attend any clinical practice. 

   

Students are required to maintain current certification throughout clinical course enrollment. In order that ongoing verification can be recorded and updated, students must submit a copy of certification renewal to the respective clinical faculty. 

Background Check

The UNF School of Nursing requires a background check on all entering students through Certified Background Checks.com, a background check service that allows students to purchase their own background check. The results are posted in a secure, tamper-proof environment online with access only to the student and the School of Nursing. The background check is repeated on an annual basis while the student is enrolled at UNF. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that this is done. 



4.12 Pass/Fail Course Grading


School of Nursing courses offered as pass/fail are subject to the following: 

  • Pass/fail grades will be issued for thesis, project, and/or clinical components of courses. 
  • Passing grades are not calculated into the grade point average. 
  • Thesis or and projects will be offered on a pass/fail basis. 
  • Once a non-lecture course is designated as a graded or pass/fail course, it will remain in that form regardless of the faculty member teaching the course or the semester offered. The grading designation for any non-lecture course will be communicated in the syllabus in writing during the first week of the semester. 
  • A grade of “fail” in a pass/fail graded course is considered a course failure equivalent toa “D” or “F” grade in a graded course and is subject to progression policies related to the specific program of study. 


4.13 Posting Grades


Grades are generally posted via Blackboard courses. Grades will not be given out over the phone or via electronic mail.

4.14 Professional Dress and Behavior


Each student is required to adhere to the following dress code. Students will not be allowed in a clinical practice area when in violation of these guidelines.  

General

Whenever a student is assigned to a clinical area the student is representing UNF and its faculty, and is expected to adhere to the following professional dress code. It should be noted that any part of the attire that draws attention to the self is, in general, considered in questionable professional taste.  

Dress Code:

Students are expected to arrive at the clinical site in appropriate attire and ready to work [i.e., long hair should already be pulled back, hair dried; ID badge should be clearly visible, etc.]. Students not adhering to the professional dress code will not be allowed to remain in the clinical setting. NOTE: Some clinical agencies have dress codes that are more restrictive than those listed below. In those cases, the more strict code will apply. 

  • UNF Laboratory coat: White; clean and pressed 
  • UNF student ID badge with name, RN, University of North Florida, Nurse Practitioner Student [or Clinical Nurse Specialist Student, or Clinical Nurse Leader Student, or Nurse Anesthesia Student] 
  • Professional street clothes are to be worn underneath the laboratory coat. No sweats, sneakers, jeans, shorts, culottes, tee shirts, halter tops, tank tops, or ill-fitting clothes are acceptable in any setting.  
  • J ewelry: Watch that registers minutes and seconds. No dangling or brightly-colored jewelry is permitted including necklaces, bracelets, etc. No facial jewelry (rings, studs, etc.-including the tongue) may be worn while in any clinically-related experience. Small stud-type earrings are permitted, and are limited to no more than 2 per ear. No hoops, bars or dangling earrings of any kind are permitted.  
  • Hair: Appropriate length and style for administration of safe nursing care. Hair longer than shoulder length must be pulled back and secured so that it does not have the potential to fall forward while providing patient care; hair should be out of the eyes and off the face; hair should not be unruly or unkempt; hair must be dry. Facial hair (i.e. moustache/beard), if present, is to be well-groomed and clean.  
  • Nails: Appropriate length for administration of safe nursing care. Fingernails should be trimmed (no longer than 1/8" beyond fingertip) and well-groomed. No nail polish, artificial nails, overlays or nail wraps are permitted.  

Lack of discretion in using/beepers in class, lab and clinical is considered a violation of professional behavior. Cell phones are to be turned off. Non-emergency phone calls are strictly prohibited. 

Behavior Code:

Students in nursing and other health professions curricula are held to standards of conduct that both differ from and exceed those usually expected of university students. Consequently, nursing students are required to demonstrate clinical competency, including reasonable skill and safe practice and professional behavior and dress, in the care of patients and to adhere to the standards of acceptable conduct outlined in the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics, and the Florida Nurse Practice Act. Students may be removed from the classroom, laboratory and/or clinical experiences at any time in a course for unsafe or unprofessional behavior.

  

Clinical experiences are designed with specific goals in mind. Students are expected to come to the clinical experiences knowing what those goals are and having made appropriate preparations to be able to fully participate in the experience. This includes having done appropriate readings and any written work required by the course faculty. 

  • Students should come to the clinical area with only whatever books, focus sheets, equipment they need for that particular experience.  
  • Students are not to use agency computers, copy machines, or the like for their own school-related or personal use. 
  • No gum-chewing or tobacco use while in any clinical experience. 
  • No pagers/beepers or cellular phones are to be taken into any clinical area. These are to be left at home or in the car. 
  • If a student leaves an assigned clinical area for any reason, the faculty member must be notified before the student leaves and immediately upon the student’s return. 
  • Confidentiality of patient information is very important. Students, as part of their clinical experiences, have access to this confidential patient information and are held to all HIPPA regulations. 


4.15 Progression


Progression in the UNF MSN nursing program is based on a particular sequence. Students need to complete course work in the assigned sequence. All course work must be completed within four years of being admitted into the program. To progress in the MSN program: 

  • All students are expected to maintain continuous enrollment, either full-time, or part-time (the part-time sequence is 6 credits per semester). 
  • If at any point a student must take a leave from the program, the student must obtain approval from his/her advisor prior to the leave and once again, prior to his/her return. Permission to return to the MSN program will be made based on a space available basis provided the length of time elapsed does not interfere with the ability to progress through the clinical portions of the curriculum. 
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required. If GPA falls below the required 3.0, the student will be placed on probationary status. Students may be on probationary status only once during the curriculum. Students will have one semester to correct the deficiency and be removed from probationary status. 
  • No more than two (2) courses with a C grade will be allowed throughout the curriculum. A grade of D in any course will be considered a failure.  
  • A grade of 75% is the minimal passing grade for all graduate nursing courses. 
  • A failure in the clinical portion of any course, at any point, will result in failure of the course.  
  • A failure in any course may result in permanent dismissal of the student from the program. 
  • If at any time a student fails to maintain the above criteria, such student will not be allowed to continue in the program. 
  • Once a student has been dismissed from the program, the student is not eligible forreadmission. 
Likewise, students are expected to adhere to professional values and behaviors in order to successfully progress in the program. The faculty reserve the right to dismiss any student from the program for health, work, and conduct improprieties including but not limited to: erratic attendance, drug or alcohol abuse, infringement of confidentiality, dangerous or potentially dangerous actions, and other examples listed as “unprofessional behavior” in the handbook sections entitled “Academic Integrity” and “Attendance and Conduct.”

4.16 Software Use


All faculty, staff and students are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. Because such violations are also against the University policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate.

4.17 Student Safety


Clinical experiences by their very nature involve students in a variety of settings, locations, and communities, as well as with a variety of patients. Students are expected to exercise good judgment and reasonable caution in ensuring their own safety during clinical experiences (e.g. lock car doors, travel with classmates when possible, be aware of security services) Patient care areas may have the potential for student exposure to hazardous substances, including radioactive materials. Students who require protective measures beyond those needed by all staff are to notify faculty prior to any clinical assignments.

4.18 Writing Guidelines


Students are expected to use critical thinking skills to gather information, use effective communication skills to convey ideas and engage in professional writing using the standard rules for organization and precision in presentation of content and for spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and reduction of bias in language use. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) (latest edition) is the required style for all written work in the School of Nursing. The manual is sold in the UNF bookstore and is a required text in all nursing courses.

 

The UNF Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) provides students with a variety of services, including critiquing writing [ACE does not provide assistance with APA]. ACE is located in Building2/ Room 2120. They may be contacted at ACE@unf.edu or by phone at 904-620-2766.

Reference

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2008). Essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Washington, DC: Author.