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Policy U3310: Nursing Student Professional Performance Improvement

Policy U3310: Nursing Student Professional Performance Improvement

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, CON 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