Policies and Procedures Regarding Attendance

The MPAS Program has a mandatory attendance policy for required activities. PA students are expected to be in attendance for all didactic and clinical activities. The MPAS Program’s block schedule specifically includes time when students are not involved in class, lab or MLFC activities such that, if needed, students can attend to outside appointments (e.g., medical appointments).

TIMELY ACCESS TO SERVICES ADDRESSING PERSONAL ISSUES WHICH MAY IMPACT STUDENT PROGRESS IN THE MPAS PROGRAM

The Department and MPAS Program are committed to the personal and academic success and well-being of all students, including timely access to services addressing personal issues which may impact progress in the PA program. Although it is ideal if students receive services outside of their classroom hours, and, as noted below, time is included in the schedule for such activities, given the course load in the program this is not always possible. In such cases when timely access is otherwise not possible due to severity, access, or after hours availability, the MPAS Program permits students class release time to receive services from healthcare providers and the Powell Resource Center - including academic success services, counseling, and disability support services.

PERSONAL DAYS

Recognizing the incredible time commitment in the didactic phase of the program, and understanding that many students will greatly benefit from a rare day off without risking academic success, the MPAS program faculty have adopted a policy permitting one personal day off per semester for didactic phase students. Personal days do not need to be excused by program faculty, but students must adhere to the following:

  • A maximum of one personal day per semester is permitted and can only be taken in the didactic-phase summer, fall, and spring semesters.
  • Partial personal days (e.g., missing one course) count as full personal days (i.e., time cannot be saved or banked).
  • Students are fully responsible for any materials presented on missed days.
  • A personal day cannot be taken on the day of any written, practical or lab examinations.
  • A personal day cannot be taken on the day of Clinical Skills lab activities
  • A personal day cannot be taken on the day of any group assignment activities in any course.
  • A personal day cannot be taken during Boot Camp/Orientation and the Program’s White Coat Ceremony.
  • A personal day cannot be taken in succession with school breaks, School or Program holidays, or requested excused absences.
  • Students must still submit the Didactic-Phase Student Absence From Program Activity Form.
  • The Didactic-Phase Student Absence From Program Activity Form must be submitted to all course directors at least 24 hours in advance of the absence.
  • The MPAS Program reserves the right to deny personal days for students at risk of or on academic and/or behavioral probation, and for students taking two or more absences during one or more semesters.
  • Violation of any of the above policies will result in an unexcused absence and enforcement of MPAS Program policies as detailed in the MPAS Program Student Handbooks. 
  • The program reserves the right to place a moratorium on all personal days for all students for any reason.
 

Absences for Clinical Phase Students Job Interviews:

  • All attempts must be made to schedule an interview so it does not interfere with the rotation. In the event that this cannot be accomplished, students must first obtain the permission of the Director of Clinical Education to attempt to arrange for an excused absence.
  • A clinical phase student will be able to request an excused absence for up to a total of 2 days for job interview/s over the course of the entire clinical phase.
    • The days cannot be taken during the same month.
    • The student must have the preceptor send an email directly to the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) stating they approve of the absence.
    • The student should then submit an absence form to the DCE through EValue for approval.
    • Please note the preceptor has the right to decline the request.
  • If the request falls on a Call Back Day, the request must be submitted directly through EValue to the DCE.
    • The student may not request to take a ‘job interview absence’ during exams, assignments, remediations, or specified lectures/activities.
  • Absence approvals are at the discretion of the preceptor and DCE.
  • As with all absences, all missed activities will need to be made up.

 

ABSENCES FROM REQUIRED ACTIVITIES

Other than posted holidays, semester breaks, personal days. and when released from the program, students should expect to be present on campus from 8:00am to 5:00pm EST, Monday through Friday in addition to one-to-two weekly evening hours for scheduled MLFC, sim lab, and service activities, and occasional Saturday hours for make-up classes.

In addition to semester breaks and semester holidays, and personal days, the MPAS Program includes time off on some Monday mornings and most weekday late afternoons. The student schedule, which should always be viewed as subject to change, is posted prior to the start of each semester in the Google Calendar. If time-off is not indicated in the calendar schedule, students are expected to be on-campus for program required classes and activities. Given the amount of semester breaks, holidays, personal days, and scheduled time-off, additional absences may significantly adversely affect a student’s learning and subsequent mastery of material.

In the event of personal extenuating circumstances (including outside appointments), the student is to notify the Course Director(s) a minimum of 24-hours in advance of classes/activities by submitting the program-specific Absence for Program Activity Form via the EValue system; one form must be submitted separately to every course director for courses to be missed. In the event of illness, family issue (e.g., family illness, child’s illness), or emergency or crises, the student is to notify the Course Director(s) as soon as possible on the day of instruction utilizing the same form and process detailed above. Different processes exist for Clinical-Phase activities as detailed below.

The following policies apply to all other absences:

  • For absences occurring during schedule examinations, evaluations, and quizzes, please refer to the Examination Policies section of this handbook.
  • For all absences, students must submit the appropriate form to each Course Director holding classes/activities during the time of the absence.
    • Submitting the form in no way guarantees that the absence will be approved and excused.
    • The Course Director will determine if the absence is considered an excused absence, on a case-by-case basis. The course director’s decision is to be considered final.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Course Directors regarding making up any missed work and fill out the required absence form.
  • An extended absence (i.e., absence >3 days) will be addressed by the Department Chair/Program Director in consultation with all MPAS Program principal faculty.
    • Importantly, extended absences may result in dismissal or deceleration from the program.
  • Submitting an absence form does not guarantee approval of an excused absence. Excessive requests of three or more per semester will result in a professionalism evaluation.
  • PA students are expected to be in attendance at all scheduled meetings with faculty and staff in the Department of PA Studies. It is considered unprofessional for students to cancel scheduled meetings with faculty/staff for other meetings/activities without prior approval of at least 24 hours’ notice, unless an emergency.
  • PA students are expected to be present for all clinical rotation activities, including supervised clinical practice experiences and call-back-day activities as established by the Director of Clinical Education and according to the schedule provided by the preceptor in each rotation.
    • The student should notify the Director of Clinical Education and their Preceptor of any absence.
    • An extended absence from clinical rotation will be addressed by the Director of Clinical Education and the Department Chair/Program Director.
      • Extended absences from clinical activities may result in delayed graduation for completion of make-up course activities, dismissal or deceleration from the program.
    • PA students are expected to remain available on campus for all scheduled activities in the program, including but not limited to remediation activities and advisor meetings. Failure to do so is considered unprofessional behavior and subject to professionalism policies.
  • Repetitively requesting (i.e., >2 per semester) to be off campus or absent from scheduled activities is considered unprofessional behavior and subject to professionalism policies.
  • For the didactic phase of the program, more than five excused absences is considered to be an issue with professionalism or the ability to meet all of the MPAS Program’s technical standards and, as such, may result in students being placed on Behavioral Probation and associated consequences up to and including deceleration or dismissal from the program.
  • For the clinical phase of the program, even though students are required to make-up all absences, more than one excused absence each semester is considered to be an issue with professionalism or the ability to meet all of the MPAS Program’s technical standards and, as such, may result in students being placed on Behavioral Probation and associated consequences up to and including deceleration or dismissal from the program.

 

ATTENDANCE AND ABSENCE POLICIES SPECIFIC TO SCPE COURSEWORK

Students are expected to follow arrival-on-site reporting instructions and to notify the program of any changes or difficulties. A suitable work schedule will be determined by the preceptor or his/her agent and should include a minimum of 32 hours of clinical activities per week (or 128 hours per 4-week rotation) as determined most appropriate by their preceptor. Students should expect to work some nights and weekends on all rotations.

 

  • It is important for Students to recognize that different SCPE courses and SCPE sites have different work hours, including but not limited to, shift work. As such, different SCPE rotations will require students to work different hours, including but not limited to evenings, weekends, holidays, and word-days exceeding 8-hours.
  • The program considers it unprofessional for students to request changes in their SCPE work-hours. If the student feels the site is requiring hours that the student feels is unreasonable, the student must notify the Director of Clinical Education but is not to discuss this with the preceptor or site manager/coordinator.
  • Students are expected to follow arrival-on-site reporting instructions and to notify the program of any changes or difficulties.
  • College holidays do not apply in the clinical year. Preceptors are not obligated to give days off on holidays or weekends. Remember, every patient encounter is extremely valuable to your education; the more time spent at the site, the more opportunity there is for learning to take place.
  • End-of-rotation seminars are mandatory and are considered part of the preceding rotation.

Clinical Phase Absence Policies: General

  • Adherence to scheduled rotation hours and attendance at all end-of-rotation activities are mandatory. Failure to fulfill this requirement is considered in the evaluation of the academic performance and professionalism and may result in a failing grade for the rotation.
  • If a student must be absent from a rotation, both the preceptor and the Director of Clinical Education must be notified as soon as possible; it is vital to inform preceptors as soon as possible of your absence as many change their schedules to accommodate students. If the appropriate party cannot be reached then students must leave a message regarding the absence and a number where they can be reached.
  • For all absences, students must complete and submit the Program-specific Absence Form to the Director of Clinical Education within 24 hours of the date of the absence. Failure to follow this procedure may result in an unexcused absence, negatively affecting the final rotation grade and, potentially, resulting in rotation failure. Importantly, submission of an Absence Form in no guarantees the absence will be approved.
  • Be advised that the program may make random calls to rotation sites to verify student attendance and performance.

Absenteeism Policies: Excused Absences

  • Incapacitating illness or injury, such as those requiring bed rest and unexpected personal or family emergencies are considered valid reasons for absenteeism; however, the procedure for absenteeism must be followed.
  • All absences must be made-up with similar activities. All attempts should be made to make-up the time during the same rotation. Otherwise, such absences will result in a grade of “I” (incomplete) for the rotation until the time is made-up at a later date; this may result in delay of graduation. Rotations, in which you receive a course grade of Incomplete due to excused absences, may be completed at a later date, depending on the availability of the rotation and at the discretion of the Director of Clinical Education. All such activities may cause a delay of graduation.
  • Policies and procedures for absences related to job interviews are detailed above.
  • Absences for scholarly and service activities (e.g., attendance at VAPA or AAPA conferences) or committee work, may be granted on a case by case basis, at the discretion of the Director of Clinical Education. Students who wish to attend such activities must submit their intentions in writing to the Director of Clinical Education three months in advance.
  • A leave of absence may be granted by the Program Director for extended illness or absence (i.e., >3 days). The Program Director, on an individual basis, will consider all requests for a leave of absence if done prior to failure of a rotation.


Absenteeism Policies: Unexcused Absences and Tardiness

  • Absenteeism not reported as outlined above will be considered unexcused regardless of cause.
  • As arriving on-time is considered a part of professionalism, tardiness to rotations and/or end-of-rotation events is not acceptable and may be counted as unexcused absences at the discretion of the Director of Clinical Education.
  • Unexcused absences are considered a violation of professionalism and subject to consequences up to and including course failure and delay of graduation.

As the clinical experiences are vital to the PA student’s education, missing clinical experiences represents a significant obstacle to success in the MPAS Program. Given this, the Program has developed the following policies specific to unexcused absences in SCPE courses:

  • The first occurrence will result in a decreased score on appropriate items from the DCE Evaluation of Student Grading Rubric for that specific SCPE course and a mandatory meeting with the Director of Clinical Education.
  • The second occurrence will result in a mandatory meeting with the Student Progression Committee for consideration of placing the student on Behavioral Probation and either (a) further reductions in score on appropriate items from the DCE Evaluation of Student Grading Rubric if in the same SCPE course or (b) decreased score on appropriate items from the DCE Evaluation of Student Grading Rubric for that specific SCPE course.
  • The third occurrence will result in a mandatory meeting with the Student Progression Committee and the Program Director which will result in either course failure or an ‘incomplete’ grade for the course at the discretion of the DCE and Program Director, and will mandate repeating the SCPE at the end of the year and delaying graduation; note, students are fully responsible for all tuition and fees associated with any delayed course or course activity completion.