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Policies and Procedures

All of the information below and more can be found in the Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program Student Didactic Handbook.


Scheduling

The program will consist of full-time days and occasional nights and weekends. A module schedule will be issued 1 week prior to the start of each semester for student planning purposes. Content experts from the medical community are utilized for lecturing to facilitate student learning which may require flexibility in scheduling.

Work Policy

Because of the intensity of the program, students are strongly discouraged from attempting to work. Students should bear in mind that any work undertaken outside the program is not covered by the student malpractice insurance required during the program. Course work and clinical experiences will not be arranged to accommodate any outside work.

Use of Students as Staff

The PA Program should be an educational experience for the student. Per program policy, at no time should a student work for the program, substitute or function as instructional faculty or administrative staff in the didactic or clinical setting.

Should the circumstance arise, the student should contact the program immediately for resolution.

Survey/Assessment Expectations

The Westfield State University PA Program is engaged to pursue excellence; therefore, the program will collect and analyze data for continuous self-assessment. The following surveys/assessments will be conducted:

  • Instructor Assessment Survey
  • Professionalism evaluation
  • Course evaluations
  • Rotation logs
  • Clinical Site evaluations
  • Program evaluations
  • Exit surveys
  • PANCE scores
  • Graduate surveys
  • Employer surveys
  • Faculty surveys

Classroom and Laboratory Policies

PA program curriculum is intensive and taught an accelerated pace. Therefore, appropriate classroom and laboratory behavior is necessary to ensure a proper learning environment.

  • Each student is required to purchase malpractice insurance each year in which they are enrolled in the PA program. The insurance is linked to tuition payment. Therefore, non-payment of tuition will result in lack of malpractice insurance, which will prevent students from engaging in history taking and physician examination exercises with classmates and patient encounters in the didactic year or clinical rotations.
  • Students are expected to secure their own transportation (reliable car) to class, laboratory, on or off campus patient encounters, simulation exercises and clinical sites.
  • Some of the clinical rotation experiences in the clinical year may require travel to sites outside the greater local area. Students are responsible for all costs associated with these clinical rotations, including travel, parking, and living expenses.    

Progression Requirements

Students in the PA program must achieve a grade of B or better in PAS didactic and clinical courses to remain in good academic standing. Students who receive less than a B in one course will be given the option of withdrawing from the program, or may be offered the opportunity for remediation or deceleration. Failure of two courses will result in dismissal from the program, regardless of other grades attained in all other courses. Failure of a course may result in deceleration in the program.  Each student will have only one opportunity to decelerate. In addition, because the courses offered each semester are interrelated, students are required to attend all courses in the semester that the failed course is repeated, attend all classes, and pass all evaluation requirements. Failure to achieve a B or better on a second attempt of a course will result in dismissal from the program.

Program Withdrawal

A student wishing to withdraw voluntarily from the University must confer first with the PA Program Director. Further details about the University refund policy are found in the financial section of the Graduate Catalog.

Westfield State University Policy on Academic Integrity & Social Behavior

“Academic Honesty, a necessary foundation of a learning community is expected of all students. Violations are unacceptable and are subject to academic penalties including failure of a course. A record of the violation is submitted to Academic Affairs; repeated violations may result in suspension or dismissal from the college. Violations of academic honesty include cheating on examinations, plagiarism, and submission of the same paper for credit in two or more courses.” Academic Honesty, (WSU Bulletin)

Students in the graduate program are expected to have high standards of integrity. Any graduate student who violates academic honesty through activity such as cheating or plagiarizing on examinations, papers, assignments or within a research setting is subject to dismissal from the program. Graduate students are required to follow departmental processes for field placements (e.g. prepracticum, practicum, internships). Failure to do so may be grounds for removal of students from the graduate program. Cases involving failure to follow process shall be referred to the Dean for adjudication.

Grade Appeals and Grievance Policy

Questions or concerns relating directly to a college course should first be raised with the course instructor. Program directors and department chairs are available to consult on appeals at the program level. If you have questions or concerns about the academic policies and regulations of the Graduate School, you should direct them in writing to the Dean. A formal appeal form may be found at HERE.

Harassment Policy

Westfield State University does not tolerate sexual harassment. Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome verbal, non-verbal and/or physical behavior of a sexual nature that has the effect of interfering with student employment, academic or other status, of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. It is a form of sex discrimination that was made illegal by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 as amended, and under Chapters 151B and 151C of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Any member of the College community who believes she/he has been a victim of sexual harassment may initiate informal or formal complaint procedures as outlined in the University’s Discrimination Complaint Procedures. Full text of the current Sexual Harassment Policy is available in the Graduate and Continuing Education Office, the Equal Employment Office, the Non-Discrimination Office, within the Student Handbook and on the University’s website. Additional information on the full University Bullying and Harassment Policy can be found here. Further information or advice may be obtained by contacting the Dean of the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.

Health / Policies/ Compliance

Professional Liability Coverage

A professional liability insurance policy providing adequate malpractice coverage for each student must be in effect throughout their educational experience and must be sustained uninterrupted throughout the clinical year.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all practicing physician assistants and physicians to have minimum liability coverage of $1M/$3M.  Consistent with this requirement, all affiliated clerkship training sites require a minimum of $1M/$3M professional liability insurance coverage for each student.

The University, through payment of tuition, provides professional liability coverage of $1,000,000.00 per occurrence and $3,000,000.00 in the aggregate, ($1M/$3M), for claims made against students during their clinical clerkships.  This policy covers all program-affiliated student clerkship activities throughout the clinical year.  This policy DOES NOT cover a student for clinical or other activities, which are not directly associated with the PA Program or affiliated clerkship sites. 

The student should inquire with legal counsel if they should acquire additional malpractice insurance. 

Health Insurance

Massachusetts law requires that all students have health insurance. Westfield State University complies with this requirement for all enrolled students. Westfield State University makes available a student health insurance plan to all enrolled students designed to provide protection against unexpected expenses or an accident or illness. Students with proof of comparable coverage may be exempt from the University health insurance policy. The principal faculty, program director and medical director will not participate in the health care of any PA student. Although the faculty and medical director work clinically, they will not get involved in a PA student care unless it is an emergency situation with no other recourse or clinician. For additional information regarding the student health insurance plan contact the office of student services.

HIPAA Compliance

Prior to entrance into the clinical year, all students are trained in the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) which outlines medical privacy regulations.  Students will not be permitted to begin the clinical year without HIPAA training and documentation. Students must demonstrate continuous compliance with these regulations throughout the clinical year. Failure to do so may result in suspension or dismissal from the program.

Immunization Requirements

Based on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) immunization guidelines for healthcare providers the following immunizations are required for matriculation to the PA Program. The student must provide documentation to the PA Program that he/she is in compliance with the following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines:

  • All childhood immunizations must be current. This may consist of as many as five DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), four OPV/ IPV (oral/ intramuscular polio) and two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations. Depending on where and when the student was a child, the number and timing of the vaccinations may vary.
  • Measles/Mumps/Rubella: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that all full-time undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of year of birth, as well as all part-time and full-time graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in health science programs, have two doses of MMR vaccine.
  • A completed Hepatitis B series of vaccinations and documentation of a protective titer (Hepatitis B Surface Antibody). Two doses IM four weeks apart; third dose five months after second; titer one to two months after third dose.  This may require more than three doses for protective titer. Existing waivers dated prior to the effective date of this policy that exempt students from Hepatitis B Virus vaccination will remain in force.
  • Varicella/ Chickenpox: An antibody titer test is necessary for all to confirm immunity. If negative, two doses of live virus vaccine given four to eight weeks apart are recommended.
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap, toxoid) booster should not be more than ten years old.

Note: Immunizations are subject to change per CDC guidelines

PRIOR TO the start of the student’s didactic year, the student must obtain and provide evidence of the following to the director of clinical education:

TWO negative skin test for Tuberculosis (TB) 2 weeks apart. The initial test must be conducted after April 1, and it is the student’s responsibility to have this skin test repeated annually as long as patient contact continues. If positive, a chest x-ray study and appropriate medical follow-up by the student’s health care provider is necessary.  Upon completion of this work-up, the Program’s director of clinical education must receive written documentation from the student’s health care provider that the student is able to return to clinical practice.

In addition to the above requirements, we require an influenza vaccine annually prior to the flu season. 

In addition, be advised that some clerkship training sites may have immunization requirements beyond the general requirements noted above.  It will be the student’s responsibility to meet any additional immunization requirements of specific sites to which he/she is assigned.

Westfield State University Physician Assistant Program Immunization Policy

Westfield State University Physician Assistant Immunization Verification Form