Policy Section Table of Contents

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Program Policies

All programmatic policies apply to all students, principal faculty, instructional faculty and the program director and medical director. All policies have been carefully designed and voted upon by the Physician Assistant Faculty and Staff and approved by the Dean of the School of Education and Health Science, as well as the Council of Graduate and Professional Studies with purpose to safeguard the student, his/her colleagues and future patients. Our 2022 Student Handbooks are available to all matriculants on Blackboard.

Student Employment and Solicitation of Clinical Sites

The Physician Assistant curriculum has been designed to be a full-time activity for students. It consists of a very demanding course load with a great deal of time spent in class and in clinical experiences.  There are also many special seminars, films and guest lecturers that may be available to students on relatively short notice. We encourage you to seek outside sources of financial support (scholarships, loans, etc.) so that you may devote as much time as possible to your professional education. Employment is strongly discouraged.   

Physician Assistant students must not perform service work within the Physician Assistant Program and will not be substituted for instructional faculty, administrative or clinical staff. Students are also prohibited from substituting for clerical and/or clinical personnel for first year clinical longitudinal experiences and clinical rotations. If asked to do so, the student must respectfully decline and inform the program immediately. While enrolled in the program, a student must not serve as a formal instructor to other enrolled students. Solicitation and development of clinical sites is the responsibility of the program and the sponsoring institution, not the student.

Identification of Students from other Health Care Professionals in the Clinical Setting 

Students must introduce themselves as PA students to patients and health care professionals in the clinical setting. Moreover, the student must always provide proper identification as a North Central MSPAS student during a supervised clinical practice experience, through an appropriate ID badge and short white medical coat with the corresponding PA program student patch. 

Immunization and Health Screening

Due to concerns for patient safety, North Central MSPAS students must be compliant with current CDC recommendations for health professionals. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/index.html. Students may use the Dyson Wellness Center Immunization Record and upload their immunization record to CastleBranch. Prior to matriculation, students must deliver immunization records to the Dyson Wellness Center within the first week of class. All North Central MSPAS students must be current with the following by the first day of class: 

  • Hepatitis B - titer (antigen and antibody) demonstrating immunity, done within the past 5 years 
  • MMR – titer demonstrating immunity, done within the past 5 years 
  • Varicella – titer demonstrating immunity, done within the past 5 years 
  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis – Documentation of the completed primary series of immunizations to include boosters every 10 years.
  • If the student has not received Tdap previously, they must get a one-time dose of Tdap prior to the first day of class 
  • Influenza – flu vaccine will be required annually after October 1st. 
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination (recommended but not required) 
  • Additional immunizations and serologies may be required of various sites during the clinical year. 

All immunizations must be completed by matriculation. Should titers not show immunologic protection, repeat titers and immunizations can be delivered to the student for a cost at the Dyson Wellness Center. All confidential health information on students is kept securely on CastleBranch Website and the student immunization form at the Dyson Wellness Center.  

Students must give their consent to North Central College to both maintain and release to clinical sites their immunization status. This release form must be uploaded to Castle Branch. 

Tuberculosis (TB) Testing Policy

Students must have baseline screening for TB with a QuantiFERON-TB Gold blood test prior to matriculation and before the start of the Clinical Year. Testing must be done within one year before matriculation and again before the start of clinical rotations. Proof of a QuantiFERON-TB Gold blood test test must be on file with CastleBranch and the Dyson Wellness Center. Testing can be done through Quest Labs at the Dyson Wellness Center at the student’s expense. Immunization records, serology and QuantiFERON-TB testing data must be uploaded to CastleBranch. 

Physical Exam Policy

Students must have a documentation of a physical examination within one year prior to matriculation. Only documentation that the exam occurred must be uploaded to CastleBranch prior to matriculation, no details.

Criminal Background/Sex Offender (CBSO) Policy

Any individual who regularly provides direct services to patient populations that are generally deemed “vulnerable” or “special” must submit to a Criminal Background/Sex Offender (CBSO) check in order to obtain and maintain clinical privileges. As such, students must pass a CBSO check, using the program’s approved vendor, prior to matriculation into the program and another background check prior to beginning the clinical education phase of the program. Additional background checks may be required as requested by clinical sites. Students are financially responsible for the background checks. Instructions for requesting the background check and appropriate consent forms are provided to students. Results of the background check that indicate a criminal conviction may be shared with applicable clinical sites so that they may make a determination about student eligibility. 

Results that limit the program’s ability to secure clinical experiences may prevent a student from being promoted to the clinical education phase or recommended for graduation. If ​any false information is given regarding drug use or criminal offenses in any documents relating to their admission or attendance, if findings of a grievous nature are revealed, ​or if a student declines to undergo a background check while enrolled in the program, this will be grounds for dismissal from the program. Acceptance into and successful completion of the North Central College MSPAS program does not imply or guarantee that the student will be able to obtain state licensure upon graduation. The Program does not accept responsibility for any student being ineligible for coursework, continued enrollment in the program, or subsequent licensure as a physician assistant for any reason, including failure to pass a CBSO check.  

Students are required to self-report involvement in any incident, which may appear as part of a criminal background within 48 hours of the incident to the Program Director. This includes any criminal offense, drug or alcohol related misdemeanor, felony or pending adjudications. Students failing to self-report may be subject to referral reported to the Program Director and SPC committee for unprofessional behavior and possibly referred to the Committee for Graduate Academic Standing for immediate dismissal.   

Drug Screening Urinalysis Policy

Any individual who regularly provides direct services to patient populations that are generally deemed “vulnerable” or “special” must submit to a Drug Screening Urinalysis in order to obtain and maintain clinical privileges. As such, students must pass a 12-panel drug screen, using the program’s approved vendor, prior to matriculation into the program and another drug screen prior to beginning the clinical education phase of the program. Students are financially responsible for the pre-admission and pre-clinical phase drug screens.   

The consequences of chemical impairment are considerable, especially in circumstances in which patient care activities are conducted. Should a student self-report difficulty with drug or alcohol impairment to a faculty member or the Program, it is considered an illness for which rehabilitative efforts will be offered, and the student is protected by the college’s Medical Amnesty, Counseling and Treatment Policy. The program will work with the Dyson Wellness Center to coordinate treatment for all cases of substance abuse involving students 

The program regards student misuse or abuse of chemical substances as misconduct subject to disciplinary action including dismissal from the program. The following represent policies that would necessitate an additional drug screen: 

  • As requested by certain clinical sites  
  • Programmatic or clinical site suspicion of chemical impairment or abuse  
  • If a student is selected for a random screening, the student must complete the screening within 24 hours.  
  • If the random drug screening request is received on a Friday, it must be completed by the next business day.  

Alcohol or drug screening requested by the program or clinical site preceptor represents a serious breach of professional behavior requiring investigation, and additional testing costs will be the financial responsibility of the student. 

Medical Amnesty, Counseling and Treatment

Students who would like more information on alcohol, drugs, and the affects thereof, are encouraged to contact the staff in the Dyson Wellness Center. Students experiencing difficulties with alcohol or drug use can talk with a staff member in Student Affairs or the Dyson Wellness Center. Short-term alcohol and other drug counseling is available on campus to students through the Dyson Wellness Center (630-637-5550). Students may be referred to other treatment programs for more intensive treatment. The safety and well-being of students is of primary importance to North Central College. Each student plays an important role in creating a safe, healthy and responsible community. The College understands that the potential for disciplinary action as a result of an alcohol or drug-related incident may be a deterrent to students who might seek emergency medical assistance for themselves or others. Because the College wants students to seek assistance promptly in the event of a health or safety emergency involving alcohol or drug use, a policy of medical amnesty has been adopted as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce the harmful effects of substance use. 

A. If a student seeks help in a medical emergency (by calling 911 or Campus Safety at 630-637-5911), the College will not take disciplinary action for possession, consumption, or being in the presence of alcohol or drugs against: 1) A student who initiates a request for medical assistance for oneself; 2) A student who initiates a request for medical assistance for another student; and/or 3) The student for whom medical assistance is sought.  

B. Any student(s) afforded amnesty under this policy will be required to meet with the Program Director, Student Progress Committee (SPC) committee and staff from the Office of Student Affairs for a formal review of the incident. Failure to attend this required meeting will result in the revocation of the amnesty. The outcome of this meeting may be a counseling or health assessment, or other educationally appropriate interventions.    

C. While no formal disciplinary action will be taken in cases that meet the conditions of this policy, the Program Director and Student Progress Committee, as well as the College staff will document the incident and follow up accordingly. Repeated incidents or intentional abuse of this policy may result in parental notification and/or disciplinary action.    

D. This policy does not preclude disciplinary action regarding all other behaviors prohibited in the Student Handbook, including but not limited to sexual misconduct, hazing, conduct that endangers, damage, vandalism, and the unlawful provision or distribution of alcohol or drugs. 

Infectious and Environmental Hazards

Universal precautions must be carried out in all research and educational laboratories. All students must receive training in universal precautions prior to any patient care activities. The North Central MSPAS program offers official Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training to all students on an annual basis, prior to matriculation into the program and before starting the clinical year. On occasion, a clinical facility with whom the program maintains an agreement for clinical education will require that the facility provide the necessary OSHA training to participate in clinical activities at that facility. This would apply to participants who have been trained elsewhere. If so, the program will schedule opportunities for the student to participate in training at the facility.  

In the event that a student has an exposure to an infectious agent or an environmental hazard-flush the area with copious amounts of water; wash the exposed site with soap and water as appropriate. The student’s health insurance is responsible for:  

If the exposure occurs on campus (i.e. lab setting): 

  • Notify supervising faculty immediately and call the Dyson Wellness Center as soon as possible and seek further direction.  
  • If the exposure occurs on campus after hours, go to the nearest emergency room. 
  • Complete incident report and submit to Program Director and PA Program Coordinator. 

If the exposure occurs at a clinical site (SCPE): 

  • Notify the preceptor immediately and follow their direction for seeking care – the office to contact will vary by site, but is usually Infection Control, Employee/Occupational Health or the Emergency Department.  
  • Complete in detail an Incident Report at the site where the exposure occurred and submit it to the Program Director and Director of Clinical Education. 
  • If a form is not available for an Incident Report – write a Memorandum for the Record with the facts of what happened and any action you have taken. Notify the Program Director and Director of Clinical Education. Be aware that the financial costs incurred in the case of an infectious or environmental hazard injury may fall entirely on the student and/or the student’s health insurance. 

Fiscal Responsibility for Infectious or Environmental Hazards

All full-time students are required to carry health insurance coverage while attending North Central College. Health insurance information is required to be kept on file and up-to-date. Students must upload proof of health insurance to the CastleBranch website before the first day of class. All infectious and environmental hazards that require care are the fiscal responsibility of the student and can be billed to their health insurance.  

Latex and Environmental Allergy Policy

Environmental allergies are commonplace. Latex and iodine products are extremely common in the medical environment. Students with a history of latex or iodine allergy may be at risk for future severe reactions upon exposure to latex products.  

Any student with a known latex or iodine allergy, or having or describing symptoms consistent with latex or iodine allergy, is advised to consult a qualified allergist for evaluation. Such evaluation is at the student’s expense. Any student found to be latex or iodine allergic must determine whether or not to continue with PA training, acknowledging the risk even after reasonable precautions are taken and accommodations are made. If such a student elects to continue in training, the student must realize that he/she assumes any responsibility and risk posed by allergic reactions, which can range from mild symptoms to anaphylaxis and death. In the event such an allergy is present, either intentional or inadvertent exposure to latex and/or or iodine related products may lead to these consequences.  

Students who are allergic to latex, iodine, or other substances commonly found in medical settings are advised to confer with Student Disability Services to identify accommodations that will enable them to participate in programs and activities that involve potential exposure to such environmental allergens. Students who have such allergies must provide medical certification of the allergy, including a description of any associated limitations. Although the program will implement reasonable, appropriate accommodations to provide learning environments free from environmental allergens, it may not be able to completely eliminate the potential for exposure in every instance. Furthermore, we cannot guarantee a latex-free or iodine-free environment at every clinical training site. For further information, please contact Student Disability Services.

Prohibition of Faculty and Staff to Provide Healthcare to Students

The NC MSPAS program is a relationship-based program and one that recognizes and prioritizes student wellness. The programmatic faculty and staff (principal faculty, program director and medical director) are prohibited to act as health care providers for students in the program, with exception in cases of emergency situations.

Psychologically Safe and Healthy Learning Environment

The NC MPAS program is committed to the principle that educational relationships should be one of mutual respect between teacher and learner. Because the MSPAS program trains individuals who are entrusted with the lives and well-being of others, we have unique responsibilities to assure that students learn as members of a community of scholars in an environment that is conducive to learning. The program supports timely access to services addressing personal issues that may impact their progress in the PA program. One such policy is a commitment to a psychologically safe learning environment. Students are encouraged to bring attention to any breach or perceived breach of the program’s commitment to the safety and health of your learning environment to our attention immediately. The following are included in the promotion of a safe and healthy learning environment: 

  • Faculty and Staff Training 
  • Dyson Wellness Center  
  • Student and Faculty Grievance 
  • Campus Safety 
  • Violence Prevention 

Student Distress Policy

The NC MSPAS program is a relationship-based program and one that recognizes and prioritizes student wellness. Although the faculty cannot participate as health care providers for students in the program, except in cases of emergency situations, the faculty and staff recognize the importance of students’ timely access and referral to services to address personal issues which may impact their progress in the program. All students are welcome to access the Dyson Wellness Center for any health-related issues. Regarding behavioral health related issues, faculty and staff have been instructed in and given resources to help them identify signs of academic, behavioral, physical and interpersonal signs of distress in their students. Although the NC Mentoring System gives an added layer of protection and relationship to their students to help facilitate help in times of need, students are welcome to reach out to any faculty or staff member in times of distress or personal problems that may influence their progress in the program. Faculty and Staff have been instructed to follow NC policies and respond to students who are in distress in the following ways: 

  1. Speak directly and privately  

Students and faculty are encouraged to reach out to and speak directly and compassionately when you sense that they are in distress. Both faculty and students will openly acknowledge that they are aware of other's distress, that they are sincerely concerned about other's welfare and are willing to help those in need explore their options to seek help. 

  1. Offer resources 

Faculty are knowledgeable about campus resources and can ease a student’s discomfort about seeking help. Faculty will let the student know that they are concerned about them and their well-being. Faculty will assist the student obtaining a referral, displaying their support for students in need to get expert assistance. Faculty or staff will be instructed to follow-up to ensure that students are getting the help they need.

  1. Consult and report to a campus resource 

Depending on the nature of the distress and effect on student progression in the program, faculty and staff are instructed to consult with the Program Director and submit an alert for review by the Student Progress Committee. Other departments that may respond to students in distress include the following: Campus Safety, Office of Student Affairs, Early Alert, Dyson Wellness Center, Academic Affairs, and Center for Student Success. 

In addition to the above resources, the Campus Conduct Hotline service can be used for any type of reporting and the caller can remain completely anonymous. This hotline can be used for reporting Title IX violations, sexual harassment, student/staff behavior, financial irregularities, complaints, etc. Any member of the North Central community (faculty, staff, or student) may report a serious complaint or concern to the following: 

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (P.A.) Program

The North Central College Master's Degree Physician Assistant program will prepare our diverse students to become competent medical providers who deliver humane, patient and relationship-centered primary care in collaboration with healthcare professionals while developing future leaders committed to community service, life-long learning and advancement of the PA profession. 

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