Apr 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Nursing Student Handbook 
2023-2024 Nursing Student Handbook

Academic Policies and Procedures

Standards for Academic Integrity

The School of Nursing adheres to the University policy of academic integrity as stipulated in the University Student Handbook and as stated below. Student appeals related to allegations of academic fraud are heard by Academic Council of the School of Nursing.

Academic Integrity Statement Widener University strongly supports the concepts of academic freedom and academic integrity and expects students and all other members of the Widener University community to be honest in all academic endeavors. Cheating, plagiarism, and all other forms of academic fraud are serious and unacceptable violations of university policies on academic honesty, and Widener will not accept a claim of ignorance - either of the policy itself or of what constitutes academic fraud as a valid defense against such a charge.

Definition of Violations of the Standards of Academic Integrity

Violations of the standard of Academic Integrity constitute academic fraud. Academic fraud consists of any actions that serve to undermine the integrity of the academic process, including but not limited to:

  1. unauthorized inspection or duplication of test materials;
  2. cheating, attempting to cheat, or assisting others to cheat in a classroom test, take home examination or final examination;
  3. post-test alteration of examination responses;
  4. plagiarism;
  5. electronic or computer fraud.

In addition to but not limited to the above, for the School of Nursing violations of academic integrity include:

  1. unauthorized possession or disposition of academic material not formally released by course faculty;
  2. falsifying or altering clinical/patient records or other recordings;
  3. not reporting patient safety errors, etc.;
  4. falsifying research data or data analysis; and
  5. specific clinical behaviors identified in nursing courses.

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism—submitting the work of others as one’s own—is a serious offense. In the academic world, plagiarism is theft. Information from sources—whether quoted, paraphrased, or summarized—must be given credit through specific citations. When a student paraphrases a work, it is still necessary to cite the original source. Merely rearranging a sentence or changing a few words is not sufficient. The citation style should be appropriate for the discipline and should clearly indicate the beginning and ending of the referenced material. All sources used in the preparation of an academic paper must also be listed with full bibliographic details at the end of the paper, as appropriate in the discipline.

Statement of Plagiarism

Plagiarism - passing off the work of others as one’s own - is a serious offense. In the academic world, plagiarism is theft. Information from sources - whether quoted, paraphrased, or summarized -must be given credit through specific in-text citations. All sources used in the preparation of an academic paper must also be listed with full biographic details at the end of the paper. It is especially important that paraphrase be both cited and put into one’s own words. Merely rearranging a sentence or changing a few words is not sufficient.


Is the presentation of your own previously published work as original.  Incorporating previous classwork into one’s thesis or dissertation and building on one’s own existing writing may be permissible; graduate students who wish to do this should first disclose and discuss their ideas with their instructor or advisor (https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/plagiarism). Submitting all or part of a paper used in a previous graduate class as part of a current graduate class assignment should not be done without first discussing with instructor.


The minimal penalty for individuals found to have engaged in academic fraud will be failure in the course.

For a second offense, the penalty will be failure in the course and expulsion from the University.

For attempting to steal or stealing an examination, students found guilty will be failed in the course and expelled from the University.

The minimal penalty for individuals in the Doctoral program will be failure in the course and expulsion from the School of Nursing.

Student Conduct

All students are expected to be honest, mature, and responsible and to respect the rights and property of others. The purpose of the Student Code is to promote, preserve, and protect the educational mission of the university. All students must be aware of and conform to the Widener University “Student Code of Conduct” that is published online in all Widener University Student Handbooks. The Student Code of Conduct applies to all student behavior in class, lab, clinical settings, and public places.

Nursing is a profession requiring the highest level of ethical behavior. Students are held to the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. This code is available online at: https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/nursing-excellence/ethics/code-of-ethics-for-nurses/.

Violating the Widener University Code of Conduct, the School of Nursing Code of Conduct or the American Nurses Association code of ethics is a serious offense and may result in the student’s dismissal from the School of Nursing.

In addition to the general University Student Code of Conduct, the following student behaviors may result in disciplinary action by the School of Nursing. Even a single incident of one of these behaviors may result in dismissal. This may mean permanent separation from the School of Nursing. These issues of professionally related conduct may include but are not limited to:

  • a breach of client confidentiality.
  • a behavior that jeopardizes a client, student, Widener University personnel or clinical agency personnel.
  • other unprofessional behaviors, based on faculty judgment.


Student Policy for Using Mobile Technology Devices


Mobile information technology devices may be used in clinical, simulation, and classrooms if permitted by the agency and faculty. If those devices also include a cell phone, instant messaging/text messaging, or camera feature, these features are NOT ALLOWED to be used in any of these settings. The use of the internet through the use of these devices in these settings is limited to educational purposes ONLY.

Students are expected to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. All patient related information (simulated and/or real) is confidential. Patient related information (simulated and/or real) is defined as all information related to the health, business, or personal matters of the patient or patient’s family. This includes but is not limited to Protected Health Information (PHI) that is based on a patient’s diagnosis, examination, treatment, observation, or conversation, and information maintained in data bases that contain diagnostic or treatment related information. (*HIPAA violations are a dismissal offense: See dismissal section in student handbook for details)


Admission/Transfer/Matriculation Policies


Graduates of an accredited master’s programs are invited to apply for admission by submitting evidence of:

  •  A completed online application.
  • Transcripts from all previously attended higher education institutions.
  •  Minimum of 500 clinical clock hours in master’s level course work.
  •  A minimum of 3.2 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) in the MSN program.
  •  An undergraduate or graduate statistics course with a grade of at least C (2.0).
  • Two references—one from an educator or an advanced practice nurse and one from an employer with a graduate degree.
  • Goal Statement that highlights the applicant’s interests with emphasis on health care practice improvement.
  • Interview with a School of Nursing faculty member (this is arranged after a preliminary review of application materials).
  • Current national APRN certification in an advanced practice nursing role and population as appropriate.
  • Valid RN and APRN licenses.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Graduate level epidemiology course pre-/co-requisite.
  • GRE scores are not required. International applicants, as well as applicants whose native language is not English, must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores with a minimum score of 213 for computer-based test or 550 for paper test.

More information can also be found online at https://www.widener.edu/student-experience/student-success-support/international-student-support.International Student Services Office at 610-499-4499.


Graduates of nationally accredited Baccalaureate programs are eligible to apply for admissions by submitted evidence of:

  • Completed online application.
  • Transcripts from all previously attended higher education institutions.
  • A minimum of 3.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) in the BSN program.
  • An undergraduate or graduate statistics course with a grade of at least C (2.0).
  • Two references—one from an educator or an advanced practice nurse and one from an employer with a graduate degree.
  • Goal Statement that highlights the applicant’s interests with emphasis on health care practice improvement.
  • Interview with a School of Nursing faculty member (this is arranged after a preliminary review if application materials).
  • Valid RN license.
  • Curriculum vitae.


A matriculated student is one who has been accepted officially into the doctoral degree program. Two doctoral level courses may be taken before matriculation. Students may be required to complete supplemental course work either prior to admission or as part of the course of studies.

A non-matriculated student is one who is taking a course for credit, but has not yet been accepted officially into the doctoral program. These students must submit the usual application for admission. No more than two courses earned by a student in a non-matriculated status may be applied toward the degree upon acceptance as a matriculated student.


The following guidelines have been established by the School of Nursing for acceptance of doctoral level course work taken previously at Widener University or at other institutions:

  • A maximum of two doctoral level courses earned at another accredited institution within the five-year period preceding admission may be accepted for transfer upon admission to the doctoral program.
  • Once admitted, a student may only take one course for transfer credit at another institution.
  • Courses taken prior to admission to the DNP program, either within or outside the university, will be accepted only if the student has earned a grade of A or B in the courses under consideration. Grades of “Satisfactory” or “Pass” are transferable as elective courses. The process in considering requests for transfer of graduate credit is as follows:
    • An official request for transfer credit must be submitted to the Program Director. If transfer credit is requested in lieu of required courses in the program, a course syllabus must accompany the request.
    • Requests for transfer of graduate credit will be approved upon recommendation of the Academic Program Director in collaboration with the faculty expert on the topic.
    • Required graduate courses in statistics and conceptual models/theories may not be used for transfer credit because they are prerequisites for admission.

Grading Policies


A 4.0 93-100
 A- 3.7 90-92
  B+ 3.3 87-89
B 3.0 83-86
 B- 2.7 80-82
  C+ 2.3 77-79
C 2.0 73-76
 C- 1.7 70-72
F 0.0 <70
I Incomplete  
W Withdrawn  
P/NP Pass/Not Pass  
AU Audit (No Credit)  

NOTE: Individual instructors may elect, at their discretion, not to use plus/minus grades.



All students are assigned a School of Nursing advisor upon admission.


Graduate students records are kept in the Graduate Nursing Office. The record contains such information as course grades, clinical evaluations, correspondence, course planning form, etc. The academic record is the property of the University. Students are permitted to view this record in the presence of their advisor. Written permission must be obtained from the student for any release of documents.


Nine credits in the fall and spring semesters and six credits in one summer session are recognized as normal course load for full-time students. Students, as adult learners, have the right to make decisions related to their learning needs. However, faculty believe a course load above nine credits for fall/spring or six credits in one summer session has potential for creating academic jeopardy. Students enrolling for more than nine credits during fall/spring semester or six credits in one summer session must have approval from their faculty advisor and the Program Director.


 Students are emailed a specific date and time after which they may register at any time during the registration window. 

NOTE: A course of study should be developed with your advisor. Your advisor will place 1 copy in your file and you will retain 1 copy to assist you with your course planning.


  • When a course is taken as a prerequisite for doctoral study, the grade will be recorded on the transcript with an asterisk, indicating that the course is not included in calculating the doctoral program grade point average.
  • Pass/no pass grading is used for grading in “Capstone Advisement.” Pass/no pass grading is optional for elective courses and the option must be exercised prior to the second class meeting. All other courses must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Following a request from the student, including an explanation of the extenuating circumstances involved, a professor may give a course grade of incomplete (I) if circumstances justify an extension of time required to complete the course. A student with an “I” in any course that is a prerequisite to another course will not be allowed to enroll in the subsequent course until the I in the prerequisite has been removed and replaced by a satisfactory grade. An “I” must be resolved within one calendar year from the end of the semester in which the course was taken or it will convert to an F.
  • An independent study course may be taken when a required course is not available in a timely manner. Approval for the independent study is required from the student’s academic advisor and the Program Director. Independent studies are offered for students requiring mastery of additional content in order to proceed with the capstone project. Students may request an independent study for a topic of special interest if the independent study credits are not needed to meet graduation requirements. The same approval process as noted above is required.
  • All requests for exceptions to these policies should be referred to the Program Director.


Student may withdraw from the course at any time prior to the final examination and receive the grade of W. If a course offered through these programs does not include a final examination, the deadline for withdrawing from the course with a grade of W is the final class meeting for the course.

Refunds for courses are determined by the University. The effective date used for all adjustment of charges will be the date that written notice of the withdrawal is received by the appropriate office of Widener University.

Progression Policies


A maximum of seven (7) calendar years from the date of matriculation is allowed for completion of the requirements for the doctoral degree. Students must enroll in both fall and spring semesters of the academic year through the completion of required DNP course work. Students must register for “DNP Project Advisement” each fall, spring, and summer until the DNP project is completed. Students who do not follow this policy may be dropped from the program.


Students who do not take at least one course per semester must submit a written request for a leave of absence, including the rationale, to the Program Director for the semester in which they are not enrolled. Those who do not do so will be dropped from the program.

A leave of absence will extend the time limit for completion of the doctoral program by the length of the leave. The total cumulative leave time applied to extensions shall not exceed two academic years. Exceptions to the policy will be referred to the Program Director.


Students who have withdrawn from the program may petition for readmission by filing a new application. Such requests must be sent to the Program Director no later than 30 days prior to the start of the semester in which the student expects to enroll.

Dismissal Policies


  • Students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress towards a degree. A student’s doctoral studies record begins with the first course credited to the doctoral degree program and includes subsequent courses.
  • DNP students are required to maintain at least a B (3.0) average. Only students with a 3.0 or better GPA will graduate. Courses for which grades lower than B (3.0; not B-) are received must be repeated. No more than two repetitions total and only one repetition of a particular course is allowed. If a course is repeated, both grades will be recorded on the transcript, but only the most recent grade is used in calculating the grade point average. However, if a student is found to be in violation of Widener’s academic fraud policies, that student is prohibited from exercising the repeat of course option to remove the F grade (given as a result of fraud) from the GPA calculation. A student whose academic performance is considered inadequate will be dismissed from the program.
  • Conduct inconsistent with the ethical and professional standards of discipline, whether it occurs before or after matriculation, is also grounds for dismissal from the program. Such conduct includes academic fraud. A student dismissed for academic fraud may no longer enroll in the graduate programs of the university may not apply for admission into another division of the university. Please see the section entitled “Policy Regarding Academic Fraud” in the Widener University Graduate Student Catalog.

Practice Project Policies and Procedures


The purpose of the project is to provide a formal written document describing in detail the nature and scope of the capstone project. The project will also highlight contribution to health care system quality improvement.

It is the responsibility of the student, throughout the program, to explore evidenced-based practice change topics as a focus for the capstone. By the time students enroll in the DNP clinical course sequence it is anticipated that they will have identified a scholarly project. At the completion of the (NURS 886), DNP students are expected to have finished the proposal and selected a DNP Project Advisor.


The DNP student will prepare an exhaustive document that substantiates that advanced practice competencies have been achieved. The DNP project may include but is not limited to an individual comprehensive disease management care case study, population systems change projects, health promotion/disease management program design and evaluation, translation of research into practice and quality improvement inquiry. The DNP Project will be individualized to the career focus of the DNP student and supervised by the DNP Project advisors. The DNP project topic will be selected by the DNP student and approved by the DNP Project Advisors. The DNP student will design the project in NURS 885 DNP I, present a written proposal for the capstone project in NURS 886 DNP II prior to the capstone semester, and carry-out the DNP projects during N887 DNP III and N889 DNP Project Advisement (as needed). The completed projects will be presented at the DNP Project presentation session(s). Documentation of DNP project will include an introduction, problem statement, purpose, implications for advanced practice nursing and implications for health care system change, background and significance of the clinical issue, critical appraisal of the evidence, evaluate and synthesize the evidence to determine best practice, methods and procedures to carry-out the capstone project and answer practice related questions. Documentation will also include an impact analysis including challenges and opportunities for nursing. Depending on the nature of the project then, IRB approval may be required. Finally, the DNP student will document how the project substantiates that the DNP Essentials, population role core competences and Common Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Doctoral-Level Competencies competencies have been achieved and how the project substantially contributes to health care improvement. A sustainability and dissemination plan of project outcomes will be documented. To summarize:

  1. The DNP Project will be individualized to the career focus of the DNP student.
  2. The DNP Project will be supervised by the DNP Project Advisors.
  3. The capstone project topic will be selected by the DNP student and approved by the DNP Project Advisors. 
  4. The DNP student will design the DNP project in NURS 885 DNP I and present a written proposal for the DNP project in NURS 886 DNP II prior to the final DNP Project completion semester.
  5. The DNP student will carry-out the project during NURS 887 DNP III and NURS 889 DNP Project Advisement if needed.
  6. Completed projects will be presented at the DNP Project Presentation session(s).

DNP students who do not have an approved DNP project proposal within 2 years of enrollment in DNP II (NURS 886) may be required to repeat enrollment in NURS 886 the next time it is offered, at the discretion of the DNP Project Advisors.


Documentation of capstone project will include:

  1. Title Page
  2.  Abstract
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Chapter 1: Introduction Problem Statement Purpose Implications for Advanced Practice Nursing and Health Care System Change
  5. Chapter 2: Background and Significance of the Clinical Issue Search Strategy Critical Appraisal of the Evidence Evaluation and Synthesis of the Evidence
  6. Chapter 3:  Methodology Methods and procedures to carry-out the capstone project and answer practice related questions will be presented. If the project involves data collection, then IRB approval must be obtained.
  7. Chapter 4: Impact Analysis/Results of the Capstone Project including challenges and opportunities for nursing will be documented in this chapter.
  8. Chapter 5: The DNP student will document how the project substantiates how the DNP Essentials and their population-focused competencies have been achieved and how the project contributes to practice improvement. The potential for replicability and a plan for future projects will be documented. A dissemination plan of project outcomes will be documented.

One copy of the completed DNP Project must be presented to the Graduate Nursing Office and one copy must be presented to the Director of the DNP Program.


The doctoral student may be required to take Advisement (NURS 889) until successful completion of the capstone project and completion of program requirements. Students may be required by their advisor to complete additional elective coursework over and above the minimum course requirements in support of the content area or research methodology. See Graduate Catalog for additional policies and the project guidelines for additional information.


The DNP Project Advisors will be officially appointed by the Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, on the basis of a written request submitted by the student and a signed Consent to Serve form. The DNP Project will be supervised by the DNP Project Advisors. These forms are available in the Graduate Nursing Office.


A DNP project that involves data collection may require permission from the Widener University Institutional Review Board (IRB) as appropriate following the procedure established by that Board for the protection of human subjects.

Human subjects review procedures and forms may be obtained online at http://www.widener.edu/irb. It is the student’s responsibility to provide the DNP Project Advisor with a signed approval from the IRB.


The outline for the DNP project may vary depending upon the type of project undertaken. It also may vary depending upon the specific problem being addressed. The final form of the written project is decided in conjunction with the DNP Project Advisors.

In preparing the capstone project document it is necessary to refer to the information available in the APA Manual (7th ed.).


In order to be cleared for graduation, students must submit required corrected copies of the completed DNP Project to the Graduate Nursing Office at least four weeks before graduation

Note: If anticipated graduation date is missed a new petition for graduation must be completed and submitted to the Graduate Nursing Office. The Registrar’s office will not issue a graduation diploma without a petition for the appropriate semester.


Graduation Policies


Students must complete at least 37 credits of approved DNP course work beyond the master’s level requirements in nursing. Students must also successfully complete the DNP project. Only doctoral courses will be accepted for doctoral transfer credit. Please note that a waiver of any requirement must be approved in writing by the Program Director. DNP candidates are not permitted to participate in graduation and commencement activities prior to completion of all degree requirements.

A student anticipating graduation must submit a graduation petition by the end of the pre-registration period in the semester prior to the one in which his/her program will be completed. Incomplete grades must be removed by May 1, August 1, or December 1 in order for your petition to be completed in time for graduation.

A student must re-petition (complete another Graduation Petition form) if graduation does not occur in the semester of the original petition. Forms are available online. A one time petition for graduation fee must be remitted with the petition as designated by the registrar’s office.

NOTE: A graduation fee will be charged that includes the cost of the diploma and doctoral hood component of the academic regalia.




Due Process Policy

Students in the School of Nursing are afforded opportunities to express their interests, issues, and concerns through student representation as voting members on selected SON standing committees, including Undergraduate Programs Committee, Graduate Programs Committee, and Student Affairs Committee. Students may also voice concerns by completion of Course and Faculty Evaluations at the end of each course.

Grievance issues related to discrimination and harassment, and or violation of the Widener Compact shall be addressed by the University policies and procedures outlined in the Undergraduate and Graduate University Catalogs.

Formal Grade Appeal Policy

It is the policy of the School of Nursing to allow students to appeal the final course grade if they believe their grade has been derived in a manner not consistent with the fair and equitable application of evaluation criteria specified in the syllabus.


A grade subject to the Grade Appeal Policy is a final grade the student believes to be derived in a manner not consistent with the fair and equitable application of grading criteria found in the course syllabus and/or a grade the student believes to have been miscalculated, again based on the criteria specified within the course syllabus.

See School of Nursing Grading Policy  in Navigation Bar of this Handbook


Shared Governance/Committees

Student representation on School of Nursing committees is an important aspect in the development and advancement of the nursing curricula and programs. The standing committee that graduate students may serve on is the School of Nursing Graduate Programs Committee. Its respective functions and student membership are outlined below.



  1. To consider, study, analyze, develop and evaluate the curriculum and course changes submitted by the faculty and/or students.
  2. To develop, review and recommend graduate curriculum changes to the faculty.
  3. To develop, review and recommend policies for graduate programs.
  4. Develop and implement admission policies for graduate programs.
  5. To review and recommend changes to the committee bylaws and submit changes to the Faculty Affairs committee by March 1 of each year.
  6. By March 1 of each year, review and recommend changes, if appropriate, to the following sections of the SON Faculty Handbook and submit changes to the Faculty Affairs committee: Goals and Outcomes of the Masters Program, Goals and Outcomes of the Doctoral Programs, Standards of Professional Practice.

Student Membership:

  1. Students will be invited by the Committee Chair to serve as directed in the Bylaws. Students represented on the School of Nursing committees shall be granted voting privileges.
  2. Student representation shall include one (1) masters, one (1) DNP, and one (1) PhD student


Graduate Student Award and Nursing Honor Society

Dean’s Award for Excellence: DNP

The Dean’s Award for Doctor of Nursing Practice Excellence is given annually to a student who is granted the degree of Doctor of Nursing Practice. This award recognizes a student whose practice improvement project is exceptional and exemplifies high standards of scholarship and knowledge development.

DNP projects will be considered based on the following criteria.

  1. The practice improvement is significant for the discipline of nursing and health care system improvement.
  2. The practice improvement reflects clearly defined conceptual or theoretical basis. 
  3. The practice improvement methods are valid and consistent with the evidence-based practice.
  4. The project impact contributes to health care systems improvement.

Procedures for Consideration

  1. The Academic Program Director will circulate a list of those will complete the DNP program by May to the faculty. All graduate faculty members will be requested to submit names of students they consider eligible for the Dean’s Award. Students can self- nominate. 
  2. Faculty members for each student who is nominated must submit a letter of support addressing the criteria for the Award. Any faculty member may submit more than one student name. 
  3. The Dean of the School of Nursing and appropriate Academic Program Director will select the student who, in their judgment, best meets the criteria for the program. Faculty recommendations will be important in the final selection process.


A Eta Beta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, International, the Nursing Honor Society, was established in 1984. The purposes of the Society include:

  1. Recognizing superior achievement;
  2. Developing leadership qualities;
  3. Fostering high professional standards;
  4. Encouraging exploration, innovation and research in nursing;
  5. Strengthening commitment to the ideals and purposes of the profession.


The requirements for membership on the graduate level include:

  1. A minimum academic average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Completion of at least one quarter of the curriculum requirements and in good academic standing.
  3. Submission of a curriculum vitae and a 250-word essay describing leadership abilities in school or work environments and a plan to demonstrate this leadership in the nursing honor society.

Candidates are invited to apply for membership. An induction ceremony is held each academic year. For further information regarding the chapter and faculty counselors please refer to the Sigma Theta Tau International Eta Beta chapter website. https://etabeta.sigmanursing.org/etabetachapter/aboutus/aboutus92

General Administrative Polices and Procedures

See General University Information   



Students must complete specified requirements to enter clinical courses. These requirements are provided to the students the semester prior to entry into the clinical course by the Office of Graduate Studies.

Deadlines: Failure to meet deadlines established by the Academic Program Director may result in severe consequences, including dismissal from the program.


School of Nursing administration will discuss criminal background information and drug/alcohol screen results of students on a need-to-know basis. This may include Widener University officials and personnel at Clinical Agencies who are responsible for placement of students. Criminal background results and drug screening results will be maintained in a file separate from the student’s academic file.

Criminal background results and drug/alcohol screen results of licensed nurses are subject to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Code Title 49. Professional and Vocation Standards issued by the Department of State. Section 14.1 (f) states that “Any hospital or health care facility, peer or colleague who has substantial evidence that a professional has an active addictive disease for which the professional is not receiving treatment, is diverting a controlled substance or is mentally or physically incompetent to carry out the duties of his license shall make or cause to be made a report to the Board”.


The curricula for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science, and Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nursing degrees require clinical experiences to occur within hospitals, clinics, private practices, and other healthcare organizations (Collectively “Clinical Agencies”). Many of these agencies require a criminal background check before students are permitted to engage in clinical experiences. Therefore, the School of Nursing and Clinical Agencies require a criminal background check for all students. This is to be completed during the semester immediately prior to the beginning of clinical experiences. Students may be required to complete additional background investigations during their course of study, dependent upon specific agency policies. Such requirements are beyond the control of the School of Nursing. The expenses of all background investigations are the responsibility of the student. Criminal background checks will be performed by a third-party company selected by the School of Nursing. Students will be given instructions regarding processes by the appropriate Academic Program Director. As a part of the process, students will authorize the background screening company to release results to the School of Nursing through the office of the appropriate Academic Program Director. Failure to meet deadlines established by the School of Nursing may negatively affect clinical placements. Failure to complete the background check will preclude entry into clinical courses and can result in dismissal from the program. The office of the Academic Program Director will administratively remove noncompliant students from all clinical courses. Should the criminal background check reveal convictions, further investigation will be undertaken by the School of Nursing through the office of the appropriate Associate Dean. VIOLATIONS INVOLVING NARCOTICS OR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES, CRIMES OF VIOLENCE (HOMICIDE, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT, CHILD OR ELDER ABUSE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE), OR LISTING ON THE NATIONAL TERRORIST WATCH LIST, OR THE SEX AND VIOLENT OFFENDER REGISTRY MAY PRECLUDE ADMISSION TO CLINICAL COURSES, WHICH WOULD NEGATE COMPLETION OF THE NURSING DEGREE. Violations of any nature may preclude the School of Nursing from placing students in clinical agencies, dependent upon the policies in place at such agencies. The School of Nursing will make every effort to place a student affected by such agency policies. HOWEVER, STUDENTS WHOSE CRIMINAL BACKGROUND FINDINGS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE TO THE CLINICAL AGENCIES WITH WHICH THE SCHOOL OF NURSING HAS EXISTING CLINICAL AGREEMENTS MAY EXPERIENCE DISRUPTIONS TO THEIR PLAN OF STUDY OR, IN EXTREME CASES, MAY BE UNABLE TO COMPLETE THE COURSE OF STUDY IN NURSING.

Any student with a criminal background finding other than a misdemeanor will be referred to the Dean of the School of Nursing for investigation. The student will be notified by the Academic Program Director to contact the Dean directly. The student in question will not be permitted to attend clinical experiences, while the matter is under investigation the Dean will confer with the Associate Vice President for Administration as needed, and will notify faculty and student of final decision. If a student is not able to complete clinical experiences, the student will be administratively dismissed from the program. 



The School of Nursing recognizes that substance abuse can impair the professional judgment required of the student nurse and drug testing is reliable, objective, evidence-based tool to identify those who are currently engaging in the unauthorized or improper use of controlled substances. Substance abuse jeopardizes the ability of the student nurse to administer safe, competent paptient care. Safety in the delivery of paptient care is the basis for drug testing. The purpose of this policy is to set forth the requirement of the School of Nursing that all students undergo an 10 panel drug screen and test negative before being permitted to engage in clinical activity through the Scholl of Nursing

The School of Nursing at Widener University shall

  1. Support faculty in meeting their obligation to comply with section § 21.18. Standards of nursing conduct of the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing which states that “A registered nurse shall: …. Act to safeguard the patient from the incompetent, abusive or illegal practice of any individual (http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/21.18a, retrieved October 2, 2007)
  2. Assure compliance with conditions for criminal background investigations and drug screens as specified in agency contracts with the Clinical Affiliates where students gain clinical experiences. Students who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are deemed to be impaired and, therefore, incompetent to provide care to patients.


1.  Students in the College of Nursing are required to complete an 10 panel drug screen with a negative test result as part of the requirements for approval to participate in a clinical placement.  The drug testing shall be conducted annually or more frequently if required by the healthcare facility at which the student is placed (“clinical site”).  Testing is required to be completed by the established deadlines. Failure to complete the requisite drug testing by any established deadline may result in the delay or withdrawal of a clinical placement.  Testing under this policy is in addition to any testing required by the policies and procedures at any clinical site.

2.  Students are required to sign all necessary consent and release forms related to any drug testing.  By participating in the drug testing procedure, the student is authorizing release of the drug testing results in accordance with this policy.

3.  Drug tests shall be performed through a testing facility designated by the School of Nursing.  The designated testing facility shall determine what constitutes a positive or negative test result.  A student is not permitted to select a testing facility to conduct any drug testing.

4.  All test results are returned to the student’s online medical document manager hosted by the online vendor and are viewable by the student. The Vendor’s Medical Review Officer notifies the student by e-mail when the test results are available.

5.  A positive test result will be reviewed by the Medical Review Officer (“MRO”) utilized by the vendor prior to release to a student.  An MRO is a nationally certified, licensed medical doctor or osteopath responsible for receiving laboratory results under this policy who has knowledge of substance abuse disorders and appropriate medical training to interpret and evaluate positive test results, medical history and any other relevant biomedical information.  MRO reviews are usually completed within seven (7) business days of an initial positive test result. 

6.  If a test result is positive, the MRO will notify the student by email.  If the student does not respond to the MRO within three (3) business days of the transmission of the first email, the MRO shall report the test as positive. The vendor will advise the Associate Dean that the student’s test results have been posted on the student’s on-line medical document manager.  

7.   When the student responds to the MRO, the MRO will interview the student and may undertake a further review in accordance with the testing facility’s internal procedures.  If, following an interview and any further review, the MRO concludes that the test result is positive, the Vendor reports the test as positive, notifies the student by email that his/her test results have been posted and advise the Associate Dean that the student’s test results have been posted on the student’s on-line medical document manager. 

8. Any attempt to delay, hinder or tamper with any testing or to alter the result of testing shall be considered a refusal to comply with this policy.  As required by law, a student who is licensed as a nurse and who tests positive or is suspected of substance abuse will be reported to the appropriate state Board of Nursing issuing the license. 

9. If a student is on a prescribed medication the MRO verifies that with the student by giving a medical prescription and is recorded on the website as a negative test. Medical marijuana is not an approved prescribed substance.

Marijuana use

As a Widener University nursing student, a commitment to the highest professional standard and

the solemn contract we hold with society to be safe, competent caregivers is expected. Our legal

contracts with clinical agencies require clean substance screens. State laws that legalize both recreational and medical marijuana, do not change our standard and our commitment to a drug-free life style, both during the school year and during breaks. Use of marijuana, even though legal in other states, will not be permitted in the SON. Violations of the SON substance abuse guidelines will result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.


A School of Nursing Student Incident Report is filed when any unusual event occurs (such as needle sticks, falls, being struck by a patient, etc.) which may cause harm to students. The Academic Program Director should be notified as soon as the faculty member has knowledge of such an event. The completed form should then be sent to the office of the Academic Program Director for processing. Incidents involving exposure to infectious disease, hazardous material, or serious injury must be reported to the Academic Program Director and University Health Services immediately. Clinical instructors must contact the course coordinator who will contact the Academic Program Director. A call to University Health Center will be made. The incident report will be transmitted on the scene or next business day depending on time of occurrence.


“An exposure that might place a health care professional at risk for HIV is defined as a percutaneous injury (e.g. a needlestick or cut with a sharp object) or contact of mucous membrane or nonintact skin (e.g. exposed skin that is chapped, abraded, or afflicted with dermatitis) with blood, tissue, or other body fluids that are potentially infectious” (CDC, 2005, pg 2). Students who sustain a needletick injury, or get blood or other potentially infectious materials in their eyes, nose, mouth, or on broken skin should “immediately flood the exposed area with water and clean any wound with soap and water or a skin disinfectant if available” (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/worker_protections.html)


Students with a known latex allergy must inform the Office of the Academic Program Director and note this information on their student health forms. Students are also responsible to inform each faculty member/instructor of their allergy and of the recommended accommodations at the onset of each new clinical or laboratory rotation. Where appropriate, non-latex gloves will be utilized. Students are responsible for knowing which article/equipment in the work environment may contain latex and cause an adverse reaction.


Students whose healthcare provider has prescribed a medication or controlled substance that could impair clinical functioning must inform the course coordinator and appropriate Academic Program Director in writing at the beginning of each clinical course. In addition, the student must provide a written statement from the healthcare provider indicating that the student is physically and mentally fit to provide care in the clinical setting. The School of Nursing requires such notification for the protection of students and their patients. This documentation is to be sent to University Health Services.


The CSCT, located on the 1st and 2nd floor of Founders Hall is for the use of all nursing students attending Widener University. Its purpose is to provide students with instructional resources for selected courses and supplement nursing courses. Flexible CSCT hours are scheduled each semester to enable students to meet course expectations and requirements. For further information, call the CSCT at 610-499-4616 or the Director at 610-499-4215.


  1. Widener SON faculty and students are the guests of our clinical agencies. As such, the utmost care is required to adhere to professional dress, conduct and agency policies.
  2. Students are expected to comply with clinical agency policies related to identification badges,
  3. confidentiality, HIPAA privacy regulations, criminal record check, drug free work environment, health records, immunizations, parking, meals, and mandatory procedural reviews, etc. Failure to comply with clinical agency policies may result in denial of clinical experience. Clinical agencies may require the students’ signature, verifying their understanding of specific policies.
  4. Clinical agencies have the right to remove students from duty when in the judgment of the agency they cannot carry out their duties due to physical or mental impairment. If such impairment is suspected to be due to drug and/or alcohol use, the agency may require drug testing and/or alcohol and/or counseling. If the student refuses, the agency may request the student be removed.
  5. The School may be required to provide agencies with the names and specific records of students.
  6. Clinical agencies have the right to bar SON students and/or faculty from the agency. Such an occurrence is to be reported immediately to the Academic Program Director and Dean, who will then investigate the issues leading to such action.
  7. A Criminal Record Check, a Child Abuse History Clearance, and a Drug and Alcohol Screening are required for all nursing students.
  8. Students are expected to wear the designated School of Nursing uniform, University ID badge, and name pin to all clinical rotations, unless otherwise specified by the course coordinator.


Students who are unable to attend clinical experiences as planned due to illness or personal emergency must notify their preceptor as soon as possible, but not later than two hours prior to the planned experience.


It is the student’s responsibility to be on time for clinical experiences. In the event of unavoidable lateness students must call their preceptors and notify them that they will be late. Due to the nature of traffic in the Tri-State area, students should plan travel time to include potential delays of up to thirty minutes.


Both the theory and clinical/laboratory portions of a nursing course must be successfully completed to earn a passing grade. A failing clinical grade will result in a final course grade of ‘F’, regardless of the theory grade.


Confidentiality is both an ethical and legal responsibility of all professional nurses. Annual review of the HIPAA Privacy Regulations is required. Students are to maintain the confidentiality of all clients. Information concerning any client’s identity, diagnosis, treatment, family problem or life style is considered confidential and shall not be discussed or otherwise passed on to any individuals outside of the agency.


A current 2-year certification from the American Heart Association Healthcare Provider or the American Red Cross Association Healthcare Provider (BLS). The course should include 1 man CPR, 2 man CPR, child and infant CPR, management of obstructed airway for both conscious and unconscious victims, and automatic external defibrillation. Students must have a valid CPR card during the entire nursing program. Proof of certification is submitted with other clinical requirements as designated by the Academic Program Director.


A School of Nursing faculty member has full and unmitigated authority to deny, based upon the faculty member’s judgment, a student’s participation in any School-approved clinical nursing experience activity. Students will have the right to a full hearing before the School’s Academic Council. The hearing will be held in an expeditious manner.


Should a health problem arise during a clinical experience, students will be referred to the nearest appropriate acute care facility. Students are responsible for all medical costs incurred; the University will not assume this responsibility. Prior to returning to the clinical, the student must be cleared through University Health Services.


Students must meet the “The Essential Functions for Nursing Practice   ” specified in this Handbook.


All medical costs are the responsibility of the student. Therefore, students are required to have health insurance. Verification of this insurance is required annually.


  1. Health requirements are required to meet the contractual stipulations of the clinical agencies in which clinical experiences take place.
  2. Students will be instructed to access the CertifiedBackground website to fulfill these requirements.


Malpractice insurance is required of all clinical nursing students. Proof of malpractice insurance is required.


Personal safety is a matter of concern to everyone. Most clinical agencies have policies regarding personal safety. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with these guidelines and using good judgment. Students may have independent clinical community assignments where the student will not be accompanied by an instructor.

In general, use the following guidelines:

  • Concerns related to safety shall be discussed with the faculty member. 
  • Faculty/preceptor instruction related to safety shall be followed. 
  • Agency guidelines shall be followed.


Professional attire includes:

  • Attire should include closed-toe shoes, and modest choices for necklines and hemlines. No jeans are permitted. 
  • Impeccable personal grooming is required. 
  • Hair must be styled off the face and collar. 
  • Beards and mustaches must be neatly groomed.
  • Make-up is permitted in moderation. 
  • Fingernails must not extend beyond the end of the finger. Nail polish is not permitted.
  • Artificial nails or nail extenders are not permitted. See CDC information at www.cdc.gov 
  • Tattoos must not be visible. 
  • Wedding bands, watches, and one small post earring per ear are the only articles of jewelry permitted. No additional body adornments are permitted.
  • Students may wear a head covering as required by their religious beliefs. 
  • Widener University student name pins and University IDs must be visible at all times.

Pre-Clinical Requirements for Students Scheduled for Graduate and Undergraduate Clinical Courses

The following pre-clinical requirements apply to BSN, MSN, and DNP students. These
requirements must be met for you to participate in required clinical experiences.

The requirements to be met are as follows:

  1. Requirements met through Certified Background
    • Criminal background check 
    • Substance abuse screen 

Requirements to be submitted:

  • CPR Certification inclusive of infant, child, adult, 2 person, and AED 
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance  
  • FBI Criminal Background Check 
  • Documentation of Health Insurance Coverage  
  • Pre-Clinical Health History 
  • Pre-Clinical Physical exam to determine 
  • Ability to perform essential functions 
  • A titer package is available through Widener University Student Health 
  • Health insurance portability- HIPAA Acknowledgement 
  • Documentation of immunization of serologic immunity and tuberculosis screening. 
  • Annual Flu vaccination each Fall. 
  1. Student Responsibilities 
    • Photo ID/ Widener University Name tag to be worn at all times while in clinical setting  
  2. Additional Requirements for RN/BSN and Master’s Students 
    • Proof of licensure as a Registered Nurse in PA for RN/BSN students and CNS students; FNP students required to be licensed in PA plus either NJ or DE license to facilitate clinical placements. 
    • Malpractice insurance within acceptable limits for specialty.