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College of Nursing Handbook, Section 5: Undergraduate policies, procedures and guidelines

Section - College of Nursing

Section 5: Table of Contents

  1. Advising
  2. Advising, International Students
    1. Guidelines: English as a Second Language
  3. Guideline: Attendance
  4. Final Exam Schedule
  5. Grading Scale, Progression and Program Requirements
  6. Malpractice Insurance-Student Requirements
  7. Nursing Student Uniform and Appearance
  8. Student Health Services
  9. Student Professional Performance Improvement
    1. Student Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) Form
  10. Student Representative Role
  11. Tardiness Guidelines(Under Review)
  12. Textbook Adoption

5-1 . Advising

Description: SDSU has included its philosophy and expectations of Academic Advising in the Undergraduate Catalog. The Undergraduate Catalog also includes the roles, rights and responsibilities of the advisee/student in the advising relationship as well as the responsibilities of the advisor.

Associated link(s):

Academic Advising Guide Sheet, Undergraduate Catalog

Formerly Policy# U3140
Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 12/2015, 11/2018
University links updated 1/06/2016 mtd, 8/2019

5-2. Advising International Students

Description: Admission policies are covered in university policies. The university does not distinguish a separate policy for advising international students.

See also English as a Second Language (ESL) Requirements.

Associated link(s):

Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 12/2015, 10/2019
University links updated 2/3/2016 mtd

5-2A. Students with English as a Second Language, Guideline

Purpose: To inform nursing students of TOEFL iBT and IELTS requirements.

Description: Describes the College of Nursing requirements regarding fluency in speaking and writing for students who speak English as a second language. Includes exam requirements for English as a Foreign Language Exam (TOEFL or IELTS), remediation for failure to pass the English as Foreign Language Exam, and procedure for safety in clinical related to English proficiency.

  1. For the College of Nursing, English as a Second Language is defined as a student who was instructed in and spoke primarily in a language other than English in the K-12 grades or primary and secondary schooling. The College of Nursing requires all students who meet the definition of English as a Second Language to complete the English as a Second Language requirements as set forth by the College of Nursing. The following requirements cannot be required of a naturalized United States citizen. However, students who are naturalized citizens may be encouraged to seek assistance in improving their written/oral English fluency skills as needed.
  2. If a passing score is not obtained on the first attempt, students will be referred to other coursework which will assist them to obtain a passing score. The student may take each test twice to obtain a passing score. If the student is not successful on the second attempt at the TOEFL and/or IELTS, the student may write a letter of petition to the Dean of the College of Nursing to be allowed another attempt at either exam.
    1. Students taking the TOEFL iBT exam must achieve a score of 79 with a minimum speaking score of 26.

Associated link(s):

Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 2015
University links updated 12/03/2015 mtd

5-3. Attendance, Guideline

Purpose: To inform students regarding attendance requirements

Description: This policy lists which nursing events are considered excused absences and how clinical and/or lab make-up is arranged. Information is also included in the Student Handbook under V. College of Academic Standards, attendance.

SDSU’s Attendance Policy

SDSU’s general class attendance policy, as stated in the SDSU Undergraduate Catalog and Policy and Procedure Manual, will be followed.

College of Nursing Excused Absences

Within each academic year there are activities that are regarded as College of Nursing approved events for excused absences from nursing or health science classes, laboratory or practicums. Such events include the South Dakota Nurses’ Association Convention; the Student Nurses’ Organization Convention; the Student Nurses’ Organization meetings, workshops or board meetings; wellness or health forums on campus sponsored by the university; and the South Dakota Public Health Association. Events not included in this list will be reviewed on an individual basis by Department leaders.

The guidelines to be used to arrange an absence which applies to the above events are as follows:

  1. This is a concept of general approval and not blanket approval. Students are expected to make individual arrangements with faculty members well in advance of the activity.
  2. Students may request an excused absence from class and lab to attend these events. Because these are official college approved events, it is expected that faculty will facilitate students to attend them.
  3. Students must be attending these events either in conjunction with their participation in the organization or as a class assignment. In the case of an RN or a graduate student, the student is a member of the relevant organization, its board or committees.
  4. Students must arrange in advance with the faculty for the excused absence and determine what accountability is necessary because of the absence.

Formerly Policy# U3120
Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 10/2015; 2/2019
University links updated 1/06/2016 mtd; 2/2019

5-4. Final Exam Schedule

Description: The final examination schedule is published by the university in the fall and spring semesters.

Associated link(s):

Formerly Policy# U3272
Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 12/2015
; 4/2020; 10/2023
University links updated 1/07/2016; 2/20
17; 10/2023

5-5. Grading Scale, Profession and Program Requirements, Policy #U3370

Purpose: The following policy includes the grading scale, progression guidelines and program requirements for the nursing major.

A. Undergraduate Grading Scale

  • A = 92 to 100%
  • B = 84 to <92%
  • C = 76 to <84%
  • D = 68 to <76%
  • F = <68%

No Rounding: All grades will be recorded to the hundredths place (two decimal points). The point value will not be increased to the next highest number. For example, 91.99% will not be rounded up to 92%.

B. Progression

  1. Students must earn a 76% average on exams in all nursing courses (except Pathophysiology) to progress to the next semester of the major. Also note that some courses may require a 76% on major assignment(s) in order to progress to the next semester. Refer to individual course syllabi for performance standards and information on what is considered an exam and major assignment.
  2. Entrance into the second and subsequent semesters of the major courses requires satisfactory completion of all nursing major and required support courses. If students drop out of a course or fail to progress as planned in the major for any reason, there is no guarantee that there will be a place for them in another semester due to the limited size of clinical sections. The final decision for readmission and continuation in the nursing major rests with the Dean of the College of Nursing.
  3. Application for readmission to the major

C. Program requirements

  1. Nursing (B.S.N.)
  2. Nursing (B.S.N.) Accelerated Program
  3. Nursing (B.S.N.) RN to B.S.N.
  4. All undergraduate and graduate nursing students are expected to adhere to the principles of the current Code for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. The Code for Nurses communicates a standard of professional behavior expected throughout the total program and in each individual nursing course. Therefore, in addition to dismissal for academic failure, the faculty and administrators of the Departments of Undergraduate Nursing and of Graduate Nursing reserve the right to dismiss any students for unethical, dishonest, illegal or other conduct that is inconsistent with the Code for Professional Nurses.

Policy # U3370
Approved: 5/10/05
Revised and Approved: 6/12/16, 9/24/2018, 08/04/2020
Reviewed: 4/9/09

5-6. Malpractice Insurance Student Requirements, Guideline

Purpose: To inform nursing students of malpractice insurance requirements.

Description: This policy explains the fee that is assessed to non-licensed undergraduate nursing students for malpractice insurance coverage. It also describes the malpractice insurance policy for RN to B.S.N. students.

  1. Students are assessed a fee annually to cover a group nursing student malpractice insurance premium during the time students are enrolled in the program. The student is then covered under a "Blanket Liability Insurance Program" with broad "Occurrence Based" coverage.
  2. RN to B.S.N. students who are enrolled in the nursing major courses must seek individual malpractice insurance. The limits of liability must be $1,000,000/3,000,000 on an occurrence/aggregate basis. Students must have proof of malpractice insurance coverage before they can begin any components of their clinical courses.

Formerly Policy# U3318
Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 2/2015; 1/2019; 3/2022

5-7. Nursing Student Uniform and Appearance, Policy #U3166

Purpose: To define the College of Nursing (CON) requirements and expectations for appropriate and professional appearance, supporting safe practice in all clinical settings. Clinical site policies supersede this CON policy. An approved SDSU logo student uniform and name badges are to be worn only for clinical experiences and as authorized by the CON.

RN to B.S.N. program students should wear professional attire when meeting with agency personnel and during population-based clinical experiences. Students must wear their SDSU student name tag. There is no specific uniform requirement for RN to B.S.N. students.

  1. Photo ID Name Badges
    Photo ID and name badges are required for all clinical activities, regardless of the uniform worn. Name badges are ordered on admission to the major. The first name is required on the name badge along with the identification “SDSU Nursing Student.” The CON pays for the first name badge. If the name badge is lost or damaged, the student is responsible for replacement and should contact Nursing Student Services at their location. Other unique identifying tags may be required per clinical site.
  2. Hospital Clinical Clothing
    The hospital or inpatient agency clinical uniform for students consists of blue scrub pants, scrub top with official SDSU emblem and name badge. The pants should be no shorter than ankle length and they should not touch the ground (this may involve the need for alterations). A longer-than-knee length skirt, matching the blue uniform color, is allowed. For infection control purposes, students should wear a lab coat over the uniform while on campus prior to or after clinical sessions. Optional attire: a white short or long sleeve circle neck t-shirt worn under the scrub top, matching blue scrub jacket with official SDSU emblem. Uniform order forms are available from Nursing Student Services.
  3. Community Clinical Clothing
    For clinical that occurs in the community, students will wear the designated blue polo shirt with the official SDSU emblem, khaki, navy or black dress-style slacks or longer-than-knee length skirt and name badge. The pants should be no shorter than ankle length and they should not touch the ground. Optional attire: a white short or long sleeve circle neck t-shirt worn under the polo top, matching blue scrub jacket with official SDSU emblem. Skin-tight pants or leggings are unacceptable clinical attire. Students should consult the semester coordinator in charge of the clinical experience concerning any uniform questions.
  4. Shoes for all Clinical Settings
    Clean, flat, protective, fully enclosed professional nursing or athletic shoes are required. Examples of unacceptable shoes include, but are not limited to thin canvas or mesh shoes, slippers, boots, sandals and shoes with wooden soles. Community clinical faculty may make weather-related, site-specific exceptions to shoe requirements.
  5. Additional Supplies
    Additional supplies needed will be based on the clinical site and experience and may include a watch with second-timing function, stethoscope and black ink pen.
  6. Other Expectations for Attire and Grooming
    Hair should be worn above the collar and off the face. Students may wear a black or white headband. Black or white head coverings worn for religious reasons are allowed. Up to two rings may be worn, in addition to medic-alert jewelry, but may need to be removed when safety or infection control is a concern. A clean-shaven or neatly trimmed beard or mustache is acceptable. Fingernails should be clean, short and neatly trimmed. The definition of "short" is that when you look from the palm side of the hand you should not see the fingernail. Un-chipped, clear fingernail polish is allowed, but artificial nails are not allowed. Body piercing jewelry should be removed when wearing the student uniform. If removal is not possible, the jewelry must be covered or replaced with a clear or flesh-colored plug. Ear piercing is the only exception to this rule. A maximum of two small stud earrings per ear may be worn. Dangling or hoop earrings are not permitted. Flesh colored plugs must be placed in the ear when a gauge has been removed. Tattoos should be covered as much as possible, with the exception of medic-alert tattoos, which should remain visible. In some clinical areas, long sleeves may be discouraged for infection control. Since many people are sensitive to environmental odors and pet hair, students should avoid fragrances such as perfume or aftershave, as well as tobacco smoke and pet dander.
  7. Hospital regulations concerning uniforms will supersede SDSU uniform standards. For example, in some specialization areas, students will wear the designated uniform of that unit. Students should consult with the semester coordinator in charge of the clinical experience concerning any changes in clinical uniform.
  8. Questions related to uniforms, shoes or appearance should be directed to the Director of Nursing Student Services or to the semester coordinator. If a student is unable to comply with this dress code for any reason, they must consult with the semester coordinator. Failure to comply with this policy may result in initiation of a Student Professional Performance Improvement Plan.

Related policy:

Revised & Approved: 4/23/12, 3/4/09, 3/12/13, 8/10/17, 1/2018, 3/25/19, 2/10/22; 5/2022
Approved by Executive Committee: 2/2018

5-8. Student Health Services

Description: Faculty and students are referred to the university bulletin or the resource at each site as listed below.

  1. Student Health Services
    1. Brookings: Student Health Services for Brookings students is located on the SDSU campus. For more information about services or to make an appointment call 605-688-4157.
    2. Rapid City: Student Health Services for SDSU Rapid City students is located on the South Dakota Mines campus. For more information about services or to make an appointment call 605-394-2354 (fall/spring clinic) or 605-755-2273 (summer clinic).
    3. Aberdeen: Student Health Services for SDSU Aberdeen students is located on the Northern State University campus. For more information about services or to make an appointment call 605-626-7694.
    4. Sioux Falls: Student Health Services are not available on the Sioux Falls campus at Southeast Technical College. Students at the Sioux Falls campus are urged to seek their own health care providers.
  2. Supplemental Health Insurance
    1. All nursing students are required to have medical insurance. Please see SDSU Student Health Insurance for more information

Associated link(s):

Formerly Policy# U3430
Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee 2/2018; 3/2021
University links updated 3/2018

5-9. Nursing Student Professional Performance Improvement, Policy #U3310

Nurses and students have ethical and professional standards to maintain in working with clients or patients. As members of the healthcare team, students are expected to demonstrate professional conduct and behaviors consistent with professional nursing, College of Nursing Technical Standards and the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses.

Professional Performance Improvement

Professional performance improvement process is intended to strengthen student’s academic, clinical and professional behavior and facilitate student growth toward achieving program outcomes by providing honest, direct, and immediate feedback. The undergraduate student Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) signifies commitment between the student and faculty to establish a performance improvement plan to correct identified knowledge and or behavioral deficits. The student is asked to use reflection and self-evaluation during the remediation process. In turn, the faculty will provide the student with the necessary guidance, support and resources as outlined in the PIP for student success.


  1. Provide the student with individualized, specific and mutually agreed upon action steps to improve student performance.
  2. Promote professional responsibility and accountability in class, clinical experiences, simulation, lab or when representing SDSU College of Nursing.

Unethical, dishonest, unsafe or illegal conduct that is inconsistent with the Code of Ethics for Nurses may result in dismissal from the nursing major. Student conduct concerns are handled by the Vice President of Student Affairs. For further clarification, refer to CON Undergraduate Student Handbook.


The student PIP is initiated when a student is identified as demonstrating unsatisfactory professional performance (academic, clinical, practice and unprofessional behavior. In line with Just Culture, students will be given verbal notice when they demonstrate unprofessional performance or behaviors and allowed time to demonstrate improvement. However, the verbal step is bypassed, and the written plan enacted when the performance or behavior is unethical or unsafe, placing the student, patient, faculty, program or even the agency at risk. Examples: breaching confidentiality, being impaired or under the influence of drugs during class or clinical, performing an invasive nursing skill incorrectly or unsafely after having been validated, performing a skill that the student has not learned yet, etc.

Verbal notice –

When safe, but unacceptable performance or behaviors are witnessed or brought forward, the faculty will meet with the student to discuss (verbal notice) the behavior and outline acceptable performance behaviors. Conversation and specific behavior will be documented on the clinical evaluation tool. If performance does not improve or is deemed unethical or unsafe, faculty will initiate a written PIP.

Written Notice - A written student PIP is initiated when any of the following occur.

  1. Student performance is clinically unethical or unsafe.
  2. Continual or repeated performance issues following the initial verbal notice.
  3. Student is at risk of not achieving one or more of the course or learning outcomes.
  4. Student performance can be enhanced by remedial learning to meet the course or program outcomes.
  5. Student performance is unprofessional and violates College of Nursing standards, the Code of Ethics for Nurses or university student conduct code.
  6. Issues of academic integrity such as cheating, plagiarism, etc. should be addressed on the Academic Integrity Resolution Form following South Dakota State University Policy 2.4 Student Academic Integrity and Academic Appeal.

Written PIP steps

  1. When a student demonstrates unsuccessful academic or unprofessional behavior performance, faculty should document the behavior and other evidence. The faculty member responsible for coordinating the course or clinical experiences should review the academic or professional performance documentation to validate concerns when Clinical Assistants report a performance issue.
  2. The course or clinical coordinator will then initiate a PIP and ensure timely feedback to the student so that together, the student and faculty can develop a PIP to work on the performance issue.
  3. Faculty access the Student Performance Improvement PIP Form.*
  4. The initiating faculty completes the PIP form and includes the following:
    1. List of learning outcome(s) not met or behaviors needing remediation
    2. Detailed description of how the student’s performance is not meeting learning outcomes
    3. Plan of action for remediation for improved performance and behavior
    4. Consequences if performance or behaviors are not improved
    5. Evaluation plan, including future meetings and consequences if behaviors and performance do not improve
  5. Faculty schedules a time to meet with the student and discuss performance issues and review the expected behaviors and corrective steps
  6. Prior to meeting with the student, the faculty will inform the student’s Academic Advisor and the Assistant Dean (site specific). The student will be given the option of having their Academic Advisor present.
  7. The student and faculty sign the form.
  8. A copy of the signed document is given to the student.
  9. The original PIP should be routed to the Assistant Dean at the program site for record keeping in the student file. A copy of the PIP is distributed to the Semester Coordinator, the faculty completing the form, and the Director of Nursing Student Services. The PIPs may be shared by the Semester Coordinators from semester to semester and to faculty on a need to know basis (those who have a legitimate educational interest). Students will receive notification of any sharing of PIPs. The original PIP will be retained by the Assistant Dean at the program site until graduation, at which time the PIP will be destroyed.
  10. The student is responsible for executing the improvement plan as outlined on the PIP within the agreed time-frame.
  11. Any and all remediation for clinical performance must be completed prior to the deadline identified in the PIP.
  12. Following remediation and verification of satisfactory resolution of the identified knowledge, skill or professional behavior, the student will return the completed PIP to the initiating faculty before the identified deadline.
  13. When unacceptable performance continues despite remediation, steps are taken to prevent further episodes, including removing the student from the clinical area if needed. Consequences of repetitive and or continuing unprofessional performance or behavior may include a reduction of course points, removal from the clinical setting, or failure of the course or dismissal from the program. Repeated unresolved behavior or new situations should be documented on a new form.

Reviewed and Approved by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee: 2/28/2018; 5/27/2020; 9/16/2020

*Requires InsideState password

5-9a. Student Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) Form

Guidelines: Faculty should fill out the form, print it and then meet with the student. Signatures are not needed until the meeting with student. See PIP form.*

*Requires InsideState password

5-10. Student Representative Role, Guideline

Purpose: To guide the process for selection, duties, and expectations of student representatives.

Description: Within the first three weeks of each semester, students elect two student representatives for their cohort.

During a class period, the semester coordinator or designee will ask students to nominate class members for the student representative positions. After the nominations cease, the semester coordinator or designee will call for a vote. Students will vote for two nominees. Student representatives may only serve one semester.

Job Duties: Semester team meetings are generally held monthly. The semester coordinator will notify the student representatives of the team meeting schedule.

  1. The student representative(s) attends semester team meeting to provide information on how the students are doing and offer suggestions and ideas for helping students’ learning.

  2. No student representative(s) will be present while faculty members are discussing either an individual student’s or faculty member’s performance.

  1. The student representative(s) is not allowed to bring forth an individual student’s issue. If approached by a fellow student who has an individual issue or complaint, that student should be referred to the course faculty or the semester coordinator. See South Dakota State University College of Nursing Student Complaint Process for Graduate and Undergraduate Programs.

  1. Prior to the semester team meeting, the student representative(s) will send items for the agenda. Some semester coordinators may ask student representative(s) to survey their cohort using suggested questions (see page 2).

  1. At the beginning of each team meeting, a maximum of 15 minutes will be set aside to discuss the student representative agenda items.

  1. The semester coordinator will dismiss the student representative(s) following discussion of the student representative agenda items and appropriate announcements.

  1. Student representatives demonstrate leadership and serve as a role model; therefore, they are expected to act professionally and always use professional communication (written and oral).

  1. For time sensitive or immediate concerns, the student representative(s) is encouraged to talk to the semester coordinator as soon as possible.

  1. Following the team meeting, the student representative(s) is expected to communicate with their fellow students about discussions and feedback provided from the meeting.


  1. “What are things that are going well?”

  1. “What are some things students are struggling with?

  1. “What are some things that would help the students achieve their goal of becoming a nurse?”

  2. List possible suggestions or solutions (be specific).

  3. List options for implementing the students’ suggestion?

Reviewed and Approved by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee: 2/2018, 4/2021
Approved by Executive Committee: 4/2018

5-11. Undergraduate Nursing Tardiness Action Algorithm for Clinical, Simulation or Community Experiences, Guideline

Tardiness defined: Arrival five minutes or more after assigned arrival time as published in the semester, clinical or simulation calendar, or as previously agreed upon by a community clinical group.

Background: This tardiness guideline was developed in accordance with Just Culture – duty to produce an outcome. Duty to produce an outcome includes an individual’s responsibility for the outcome of a situation. For students, examples of duties required to produce an outcome include arriving on time, following dress code and meeting program requirements.

Procedure for instructor: In the event a student is tardy, review the two situation descriptions, select the situation that most closely matches the current situation and follow the required action.

Situation #1: Tardiness has no impact on ability to provide safe direct patient/client care.


  • Student is prepared to provide safe care OR
  • Experience does not include direct patient/client care OR
  • Student can receive patient/client report OR
  • Student can complete onsite preparation, as required for safe care, prior to accepting responsibility for patient/client care.

Action: Student can stay for clinical shift, simulation experience or community clinical. First occurrence, instructor will initiate conversation regarding professional performance expectations. A second occurrence requires the Semester Coordinator to initiate a Performance Improvement Plan. All tardiness is noted on clinical evaluation tool.

Situation #2: Tardiness inhibits/prohibits ability to provide safe direct patient/client care.


  • Student is unorganized/unprepared OR
  • Student has missed patient/client report OR
  • Student is unable to complete onsite preparation, as required for safe care, prior to accepting responsibility for patient/client care.

Action: Student is required to leave the clinical setting immediately and is required to initiate the process of scheduling clinical makeup as outlined in the Billing Procedure for an Unexcused Clinical Absence/Simulation/Community Experience. Semester Coordinator initiates a Performance Improvement Plan. Tardiness is noted on clinical evaluation tool.

Dec. 19, 2017, Semester Coordinator Attendance Task Force
Updated: April 2021

5-12. Textbook Adoption, Guideline

Description: Information given in the web link describes guidelines for adoption of textbooks for nursing courses. The steps for textbook adoption, including the process to update to a newer edition of a textbook, are outlined in the links below. Three separate documents guide the textbook adoption process at South Dakota State University. The guiding documents are the Nursing Undergraduate Curriculum Processing Form - Minor Curriculum Change form, the Textbook Adoption Form and the Undergraduate Curriculum Process Flow Chart for Textbooks.

Associated Link(s):

Formerly Policy #U3460
Reviewed by the Bylaws and Handbook Committee: 4/2017
University links updated 2/22/17; 4/13/17; 4/27/2020