Professional Behavior and Code of Conduct
Ethical behavior for physical therapist assistants is defined by the APTA. Students are accountable for ethical practice and behavior while on campus as well as at clinical sites. The principles for ethical practice of physical therapy can be accessed online at:
Any behavior exhibited by the student deemed inappropriate at a clinical site, by the ACCE (course assignments and/or clinical setting), the CI, or the SCCE may result in failure of the clinical education course. Repeated or multiple issues with professionalism during a clinical experience may also result in failure.
An incident out of the ordinary involving or witnessed by the student at a clinical site should be immediately reported to the CI and the appropriate facility incident report should be filled out. The ACCE should be contacted about the incident within 24 hours.
On-site Health Care or Emergency Services
There are no health care or emergency services located on campus.
Stanbridge University adheres to its commitment of promoting an ongoing “student friendly” environment by eliminating distractions from the classroom.
Stanbridge University promotes instructional assessment and improvement of the quality of instruction by providing the instructor with a specific set of guidelines defining what is considered an appropriate or inappropriate classroom.
The instructor is the sole individual responsible for monitoring and regulating the following activities:
- Cell phone use is prohibited when class is in session.
- No food or drink is allowed in the classroom, except water bottles with a re-sealable cap.
- The viewing of inappropriate websites at any time is not allowed.
- Any violation of the school’s regulations concerning academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.
- Professional dress and behavior is expected of students while they are on campus.
Professional Image Policy for PTA Students
Student Dress Code
- The student should at all times wear their student ID visibly.
- Navy blue Polo shirts must bear the Stanbridge University logo (provided) on the left breast of the shirt.
- Khaki pants (full-length) must be worn as part of the uniform.
- PTA lecture and lab uniforms and lab coats must be clean and unwrinkled.
- Name tags should be worn at all times. Badges may not be embellished with stickers, jewel-like objects, etc. Lanyards, car keys, etc., may not be hanging in pockets or visible outside of the uniform.
- Undershirts worn underneath the polo uniform top may be short sleeve or long sleeve, but must be white, solid navy, or solid black if visible. No other undergarments may be visible. Grey or navy blue cardigan sweaters are acceptable outerwear. Hoodies (other than Stanbridge-branded outerwear) are not acceptable.
- Bare feet, bare midriffs, low-cut necklines, and skin-tight clothing are not acceptable.
- Hats are not to be worn inside any of the buildings, classrooms, hallways, or labs.
Shoes and socks must be worn at all times
- Shoes must have a rubber/non-conductive sole.
- Shoes must be closed toe and must be clean at all times. Neoprene or mesh-type tennis shoes are not acceptable. Canvas tennis shoes like Converse or Vans, Crocs, and Vibrams or other informal shoes are not acceptable.
- Plain, black or gray, non-flashy sneakers are acceptable.
Jewelry, Hair, and Nails
- The only visible, pierced jewelry that is acceptable is a small, single, stud earring located in the ear. Hoops, rings, or dangling earrings are not allowed. Jewelry on the tongue, eyebrows, nose, or lips is not allowed. An exception is made for medical or religion bracelets as well as a wedding band that is low in profile.
- Facial hair must be neatly trimmed to a maximum length of ½ inch to permit proper fit of personal protective equipment (as recommended by the Center for Disease Control) and not be dyed an unnatural color.
- Accessories on the wrist (except for watches), such as metal or silicone bracelets, are not permitted.
- A watch allowing for the ability to track the passing of seconds is mandatory at all times.
- Rings, if worn by the student, should be low profile and limited to one finger per hand.
- Necklaces, if worn, must be inside the shirt and not be obstructive to the student or the student’s classmates.
- In lab, hair must be pulled back out of the face and off the shoulders. In lecture, hair must be brushed and neat in appearance. Hair color must be of a natural color; faddish (e.g. mohawk) or unnatural colors or styles are not permitted.
- Hair accessories must be plain. Decorative bows, ribbons, flowers, and headbands are not permitted.
- Nails must be closely trimmed and kept clean at all times. Only clear nail polish is acceptable – other colors/designs are not allowed. Artificial nails are not allowed.
- Tattoos and piercing are discouraged while in school due to increased chance of infection and the ability to comply with Stanbridge and clinical education site policy.
- Tattoos cannot be visible. White long sleeve shirts or “sleeves” must be worn to cover the tattoos during lecture. During lab, tattoos are allowed to be visble.
(Note: Clinical education facilities may have uniform regulations in addition to the foregoing requirements. Students must comply with any additional uniform requirements at the clinical education facilities in the program.)
Students not in compliance with the uniform standards policy will be issued a Notice of Deficiency and will lose one lab point.
- Laboratory uniform t-shirts will be issued. Please note that articles of clothing may be asked to be removed for palpation/observation in lab. Please plan accordingly with sports bras, bathing suit tops, etc.
- Solid light gray or black shorts of modest length (at least a 6-inch inseam).
- Athletic shoes and socks (same as above).
Student Roles and Expectations
The student’s role and level of function is stated in the individual course syllabi. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning and demonstrate professionalism at all times. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the ACCE as soon as a problem related to clinical learning is identified. Students are required to abide by the requirements of the contract and follow the guidelines laid out in the Clinical Education Handbook, which include:
- First and foremost, protecting the health and safety of patients at facilities where they perform their clinical education experiences.
- Honoring the preservation of patient privacy by scrupulously observing confidentiality of patient information according to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines. Violation of patient confidentiality may lead to dismissal of the student from the program.
- Seeking the guidance of the program ACCE should the student have problems in the clinical setting which may include, but are not limited to, interpersonal issues with the clinical instructor that impair the ability to of the student to gain clinical knowledge or working in a facility where California laws are not being followed or where the student may be in danger.
- Arranging for transportation to and from school, clinical education facilities and other designated locations for instruction in the PTA program. (Note: The schedule at some clinical education facilities may not match other schedules (for days of the week or hours of clinical education) due to facility-driven scheduling. Students are responsible for arranging their personal schedules to meet prearranged facility schedules).
- Making the didactic and clinical schedule in the PTA program the top priority in their personal schedule.
- Abiding by the rules and regulations of the clinical education facilities during clinical rotations.
- Contacting the site at least two weeks in advance to learn the specific requirements of the assigned site.
- Reviewing all necessary documents (i.e. course-specific information) with the assigned contact, either prior to arrival or upon arrival on the first day of the clinical education experience.
- Assuming the cost associated with the clinical education experiences including travel, transportation, and housing.
- Complying with the policies and procedures of the clinical site and the program.
- Fulfilling all duties and assignments made by the clinical instructor and ACCE within the time limit specified.
- Removing all patient identifiers for web-based posting of clinical education assignments on EXXAT and maintaining any discussions with in the educational context.
- Providing honest and constructive feedback to the clinical site and ACCE.
- Adhering to the profession’s Code of Ethics.
- Coordinating with the CI, SCCE, and ACCE to reschedule make up time for any absences.
- Writing a letter of appreciation to the appropriate individuals (e. g. clinical instructor, department supervisor, clinical site administrator) for the educational opportunities provided.
Travel and Expense Expectations
Students must understand that additional responsibilities and obligations are required for clinical education. These responsibilities include provision of reliable transportation and living expenses (housing, meals, etc.). Students are responsible for their own transportation and living arrangements related to clinical education coursework, unless otherwise supported by the clinical facility. At no time, will the student be considered an employee of the clinical facility.
If a student is injured in off-campus educational experiences, the student—depending on the severity of injury and the clinical education setting—should access the facility’s emergency services. If those services are unavailable on-site, the student should request assistance to receive the necessary emergency services. The student will be responsible for the cost.
Each clinical education course has course objectives that are part of the course syllabus.
In conjunction with the clinical instructor, students are expected to create individualized learning objectives compatible with their learning needs and the experiences offered at the clinical site. The clinical site may also have specific objectives it has developed. In addition to the objectives developed by the University, students are expected to meet with their clinical instructors to develop additional objectives to meet the individual student’s learning needs.
Student Liability Insurance
The university provides professional liability insurance (malpractice insurance) for all students during all levels of clinical education.
Students are required to carry health insurance, throughout the duration of their program, at their own cost, and may be asked to provide a copy to program administration or clinical facility.
Physical Examination and Immunizations
Students are first informed of the requirements for background checks, health screens, drug screens, health insurance, BLS certification, tuberculosis (TB) tests (PPD), and vaccinations during new student orientation. This orientation is followed up by an email that clearly defines the details and due dates for each of the stated requirements. Students are required to have a recent physical examination/health screen, and immunizations including measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); polio series; tetanus; diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap); and Hepatitis B. Students must also have evidence of varicella vaccination or proof of having had chicken pox.
Students are also required to have an annual, updated TB screening. A student who was immunized against TB or received treatment for TB and has a positive TB test needs to have a chest x-ray done at least every year to demonstrate that there is no evidence of active TB.
Proof of the above is required by all clinical facilities and must be completed two months prior to the first clinical education experience (PTA 2010).
Maintaining Requirements For Clinical Education
All PTA students are responsible for maintaining the accuracy of the above student health information. This includes, but is not limited to the PPD, chest X-ray (if PPD is positive), Hepatitis B vaccine series, a physical, health insurance, MMR, varicella vaccination, Tdap, and American Heart Association BLS/CPR certification. It is mandatory for each student to keep these records current at all times. No student is allowed to begin his/her clinical education with expired health information. It is the responsibility of the student to provide documentation of updated health records prior to his/her expiration. Student Services provides optional health center referrals upon request for any student needing to update his/her health records. Students are responsible to pay for any necessary renewals of health records. Any student with expired health information will not be allowed to begin the clinical education portion of the program without updating the expired information. Any absences accrued due to expired health records will be unexcused. Also, any student who accrues absences due to expired health records will receive a Notice of Deficiency for each absence. Individual facilities may require additional tests, titers, immunizations, or other information prior to the start of the clinical education course and the student is responsible for meeting these facility-specific guidelines and/or requirements as well as the costs incurred.
PTA students who are pregnant or become pregnant during the program must inform the PTA Program Director and ACCE and provide medical clearance from their treating physician prior to attending Skills Lab and clinical experience.
Students must be certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) from the American Heart Association. Students are responsible for maintaining proof of certification, and its currency, for the entire duration of the program, at their own cost. Students without current certification will be removed from all fieldwork/clinical rotations until certification is renewed. Any absences accrued will have Attendance Policies applied.
Prior to Practicum, all students are required to pass a drug screen at a location determined by the university, during a prescheduled week. A facility may require the student to pass an additional drug screening prior to or during the first week of a clinical education experience as a part of the facility’s procedures and requirements. Students are encouraged to ask about these tests and to obtain information in order to avoid ingesting anything that could cause a false positive result on a drug test. This screening is scheduled with the facility and will be done at the student’s expense.
Potential Health Risks
Clinical practice poses a potential for exposure to hazardous materials, infectious agents, and personal injury. Prior to beginning the clinical experience, the student must be trained in standards for preventing transmission of bloodborne and other infectious agents. The OSHA bloodborne pathogen requirement can be met if the student attended the infection control lectures in PTA 1001 Introduction to PTA and PTA 1007 PTA Practice I. The student must also successfully pass training in injury prevention and safe body mechanics. In addition, a student must complete any additional training required by the clinical site.
It is the student’s responsibility to seek all the information needed to comply with the clinical site’s policies including infection control, use/storage/labeling of hazardous materials, fire and emergency procedures, security, and incident reporting of personal or patient injury.
Exposure or Workplace Injury Plan
In the event of an exposure to an infectious agent or hazardous material or injury at the worksite, the student should seek treatment through the site’s employee health department. The student must follow site protocol for injury or exposure reporting and must promptly notify the SCCE, CI, and ACCE. The student is responsible for the costs incurred during the evaluation and treatment of injuries.
Patient Incident or Injury
Students are to immediately report to their clinical instructors all incidents or accidents involving patients or clients. The clinical instructor should report the occurrence as required by facility policy and procedures. It is the responsibility of the student and the Student Coordinator of Clinical Education to contact the ACCE to notify the latter of such incidents or accidents. Students are advised to speak to no one other than the SCCE or ACCE regarding any incident or accident in which the student was involved or that the student witnessed during the clinical experience. All matters regarding such occurrences are to be processed according to facility policy and procedures.
Statement on Disability
The Stanbridge University PTA Program does not discriminate against any student on the basis of disabling conditions. Any qualified individual with a disability requesting an accommodation or auxiliary aid or service should go to the online ADA Portal on Student Central at https://ada.stanbridge.edu/ and submit a Request for Accommodation.
The student is obligated to obtain informed consent. The student must disclose his or her status as a student and provide the patient with the name of the supervising therapist. A patient has the right to refuse treatment by the student without effects on services.
All institutional/clinical site resources are considered proprietary. The student may not remove or copy resources or materials from the institution/clinical site without consent.
The student is required to complete training for awareness and compliance with the patient privacy regulations of the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act during Term 1 in the program in PTA 1001, Introduction to PTA. The student is required to strictly adhere to HIPAA standards. The student must protect patient confidentiality and is not to discuss the patient or patient condition outside the clinical setting. Patients may be discussed with classmates and faculty for educational purposes only. All patient identifiers must be removed.
Statement of Student Responsibility
It is the responsibility of each student enrolled in a clinical education course to monitor grades and progress. Clinical education courses are graded with a Pass/Fail grade and will not affect a student’s grade point average. Receiving a “Pass” grade in any clinical education course, however, is necessary to continue in the program. What constitutes a “Pass” differs with each clinical experience and is outlined in the respective syllabi related to each clinical course. Students may retake only one clinical education course a single time. If a student feels that he/she is not doing satisfactory work at mid-term, the student is responsible for making an appointment with the ACCE to design a plan for improvement. Unsatisfactory clinical coursework may interrupt the student’s ability to proceed within the curriculum or graduate. Depending on the individual circumstance, the student’s clinical experience may be extended, or the student may need to repeat the clinical experience.
To assist students in planning, it is requested that each clinical site complete a Clinical Site Information Form (CSIF) (see Appendix D in the Clinical Education Handbook) that provides information pertinent to clinical education. Students may also use feedback from previous graduates to determine if a certain facility is deemed of enough interest to complete a clinical experience. Some facilities also have specific criteria or objectives for clinical education that may be useful in determining facility expectations. The ACCE will inform students where this information may be obtained during the clinical education orientations which are integrated throughout the Program.
The SCCE will be sent Clinical Education Reservation Forms requesting clinical placements 12 months ahead of the planned clinical education coursework start date, or as needed as new clinical education agreements are established. Information received back from clinical sites will be recorded in EXXAT. Students will have an opportunity to research available options and identify their preferences. Please see “Guidelines of Clinical Education Process” for details. The ACCE will be available to discuss the process and answer questions about student’s needs or specific facilities of interest. At no time during the selection and assignment process, are students to make contact with clinical sites. Students will rank their preferences on EXXAT on or before the specified deadline.
Clinical education assignments are made approximately six weeks in advance. Based on student input, matching by the EXXAT system (utilizes a complex algorithm which matches as many students as possible to their most desired clinical experience site), as well as feedback from the Program Director and other faculty members, students are assigned by the ACCE to either an outpatient or inpatient setting for Practicum I. Students are assigned in the same manner for the Affiliations such that they complete one Affiliation in an outpatient setting and one Affiliation in an inpatient setting.
The ACCE will review the assignments for alternative placements if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the students and/or program. Every reasonable effort will be made to share the rationale for reassignments with the students. Students will receive notification of their upcoming assignments via an email through EXXAT and be given an opportunity to discuss any concerns with the ACCE.
SCCEs are provided finalized clinical placement information for the upcoming clinical education experiences, including filled and unmatched time slots, updated clinical education policies and other relevant clinical education program information. Please see “Guidelines of Clinical Education Process” for details.
Once assignments are made, the only changes that will be allowed for students are for unexpected circumstances of hardship. The student may petition the ACCE after the assignment has been made. On an individual basis, the ACCE will consider if the assignment creates a hardship. The ACCE may consult with other faculty members, if needed, to determine the extent of the hardship. If hardship is determined, the student and ACCE will work together to find another assignment that will allow the student to meet clinical education requirements. If the ACCE decides a hardship is not present, the student must attend the assigned site or risk failing the course. If a site becomes unavailable during a planned clinical experience, the student will individually consult with the ACCE, who will make every reasonable effort to secure an equitable learning alternative. Records of site cancellations are kept for review.
Stanbridge University affords all of its students their full rights as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This law was enacted to protect the privacy of students and provide for the right to inspect and review education records which are directly related to a student and which are maintained by the university or by a party acting for the university, including the clinical education site. The university may disclose personally identifiable information from the education records without the consent of the student to an outside contractor such as a clinical education site that is a party acting for the institution and performing a service which the institution would otherwise have to perform for itself. The university is not permitted to disclose that information to others without the written consent of the student, and the information is to be used only for the purpose(s) intended. A student may request amendment of the content of an education record on the grounds that the record is inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the privacy of the student.
Termination of Clinical Education Course due to Student Performance
If a student’s conduct or performance in any way disrupts services to patients or relationships with the clinical education site, the CI may dismiss the student or the ACCE may immediately terminate the student’s placement and assign a failing grade for that clinical experience. Areas of conduct are not limited to technical skills or academic preparation but also include commitment to learning, effective interpersonal skills, effective communication skills, effective use of time and resources, acceptance of feedback, professionalism, problem solving, and stress management.
The following examples may be grounds for immediate termination. The list of examples is provided for clarification but is not a comprehensive nor all-inclusive list of the unprofessional behaviors that may warrant termination:
- Student does not exercise sound judgment, placing a patient at serious risk for injury.
- Student behavior undermines the positive relationship between the university and the clinical site.
- Student performance jeopardizes relationships between employees at the clinical site.
- Student fails to adhere to department, program, or university policies and procedures.
- Student uses poor professional judgment, lending to unsafe patient care or has unethical conduct.
- Student fails to remediate unacceptable behavior that has been addressed.
- Student misrepresents level of competency or practices beyond abilities.
- Student has unreasonable absences or tardiness.
- Student dates a patient currently undergoing any form of treatment at the clinical site.
- Student dates a staff member employed at the clinical site.
- Student deceives the CI or clinical staff.
- Student informs the patient or family of personal disagreement with an aspect of care.
If the student is dismissed from the clinical education site or if the clinical experience is terminated:
- The student will be given a grade of “Fail” for the clinical education course.
- The student may not return to the site for future clinical internships.
- The student or agents of the student may not interact or contact the clinical site, its staff, or patients.
- The student must formally meet with the ACCE to outline remediation plan.
- The student may be granted the opportunity to re-enroll in a clinical education course in which he/she received a failing grade. Students who do not successfully complete the course the second time will be dismissed from the program. Students are only allowed to remediate one clinical education course, one time. Students may not remediate if failed Practicum, only a failed Affiliation.
Student Acknowledgement of Risk
As a condition of their presence in the program and clinical facilities for clinical education, Physical Therapist Assistant students will be required to sign an acknowledgement form, which includes the following information:
I, _______________________________________, understand that while I am enrolled in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Stanbridge University, I may be involved in activities that may increase my risk of injury or illness to a level above those associated with everyday activities of daily living. These activities may include, but are not limited to, exposure to potentially infectious blood, body fluids, and airborne pathogens and diseases (Examples: HIV, Hepatitis, TB, needle sticks); musculoskeletal injury due to performing/receiving physical therapy treatment activities on/from partners or patients in the laboratory setting or during clinical education experiences; psychological stress associated with the curriculum load which requires a significant level of commitment to successfully complete the program; and exposure to hazardous materials (Examples: bleach, rubbing alcohol, Betadine).
I am aware that certain clinical education facilities may require the successful completion of drug testing and/or additional background investigation before I am allowed to participate in the provision of care at those facilities.
I agree to follow all clinical education facility protocols regarding patient safety, personal safety, and all other protocols I have been instructed at school, during clinical facility orientations, and during my clinical rotations.
I hereby confirm that I will seek the direction of my clinical instructor (CI) or other supervising facility mentor should I be unclear as to how to proceed with patient treatment or any other procedure, protocol, or process at the clinical facility.
I hereby indemnify and hold harmless Stanbridge University, its employees, agents, owners and partnering clinical facilities from any liability pertaining to any infectious disease, illness or injury I may acquire or get as a result of my participation in my clinical education rotations, including any infectious disease, illness or injury I may acquire as a result of my participation in a potentially dangerous clinical rotation such as at a facility in which individuals with mental illness are treated.
I also understand that that it is my responsibility during clinical education coursework in the provision of care to patients to identify myself correctly as a Physical Therapist Assistant student. I also understand that it is the risk-free right of patients to refuse to participate in clinical education.
Student Media Acknowledgement and Waiver
Physical Therapist Assistant students will be required to sign an acknowledgement form, as a condition of their presence in the program and clinical facilities for clinical education, which includes the following information:
I, ______________________________________________, hereby irrevocably consent to and authorize the use and/or reproduction of any testimonial information and all photographs or other media taken of me during any aspect of the program for any company purposes, without compensation to me. This is to include use of the original images and any variations created thereof for sale or licensing in, but not limited to, company stock photography, video, promotional media, audio, advertising media, in any way whatsoever. All negatives and positives, or digital media, and any copies of same, shall constitute property, solely and completely, of Stanbridge University.
In giving this consent, I release Stanbridge University and its representatives from any violation of any personal or proprietary right I may have in connection with such sales, reproduction, or use.
I enter into this release on behalf of my dependents, heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns.