Selected Student Policies & Procedures

Policies and Procedures

Academic Dishonesty

Inappropriate testing behavior reflects unsatisfactory professional development and therefore leads to academic review of the student and possible dismissal. Do not provide or receive unauthorized assistance on exams. Do not remove exams from designated review areas or obtain exam material prior to distribution by faculty. Irregularities that you observe in test-taking should be referred to the proctor or course instructor.

Types of Academic Dishonesty:

A. Cheating:   Using or attempting to use unauthorized materials or methods in any exercise. E.g. having a substitute take a test, having another person complete a research or writing paper, using concealed notes during exams, hinting during practicums,  providing information to other students during OSCEs or board type exams.  Passing on information about test questions students in subsequent classes and reconstructing exams.

B. Fabrication:   Falsifying or inventing any information or evidence, or neglecting to follow established guidelines of research and documentation.  E.g. distortion of evidence, creation of false sources or fictitious evidence.

C. Collaboration:   Assisting others in engaging in scholarly wrongdoing.  E.g. stealing and distributing tests, permitting others to use a research paper and permitting another to copy from his/her paper during an exam; “buying” a research paper.

D. Destruction of Reference Sources:  Denying others access to learning materials.  E.g. destruction of journal articles in the library collection.  Stealing of books and other materials from the library or other sources.

E. Plagiarism:   Representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own.  E.g. not giving  credit for referenced information and not acknowledging a paraphrase.  Using another author’s material as one’s own.

*Note:  The student who provided the information and the student who received the information in a case of academic dishonesty will both be held accountable.

In an examination setting – the student will be permitted to complete the examination and surrender it (as applicable).  The PA Studies Program Director and the exam proctor will meet with the student privately, immediately, or at an appointed time to discuss the details of the unsatisfactory behavior.  A written report will be placed in the student’s file.  The student will be referred to the Dean of the College of Sciences for further action.

In a non-examination setting, the Program Director will meet privately with the student to discuss the details of the behavior.  A written report will be placed in the student’s file.  The department faculty will decide on further disciplinary action.

NCCPA Code of conduct: https://www.nccpa.net/code-of-conduct

WLU PA Studies Program Grievance and Appeal Procedure

A student who believes that his/her course grade, course failure, suspension, probation, or dismissal from the Institution or from the PA Program was based on inadequate evidence or prejudicial judgment, may appeal this action. Please note that, when considering course grades, there is always a subjective component.  Because of the specialized nature of Physician Assistant education, the Graduate Health Sciences Council is not in a position (does not have the expertise) to second guess the instructor as to the appropriateness of a grade.  In an appeal of a grade, the student must demonstrate the grade was unfair in some way (expectations were unclear; the instructor was unprofessional in dealing with you etc).  The standard of appealing a grade is very high and must be accompanied by clear, unambiguous documentary evidence.  The burden of proof is upon the student for all appeals.

The appeals process is the following:

 Step 1

It is recommended that a PA student consult with his or her academic adviser before and while initiating a complaint or grievance.

1.  The Physician Assistant (PA) student shall discuss the problem with the instructor (for problems involving a single class) or Program director (for problems involving the program in general) and attempt to resolve the issue.

Step II

1.  If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved in Step I, the PA student may appeal this action in writing to the Program Director who will then bring the student’s appeal before the Student Progress Committee within ten (10) calendar days of the receipt of such notification. The appeal will be brought before the Committee for arbitration.

Step III

1. If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved in Step II, the PA student has the right to file a grievance with the Graduate Health Sciences Council.  The PA student wishing to file an appeal must submit a letter of appeal (petition) to the Dean of the College of Sciences.  The letter of appeal must state the action being challenged; including a statement of the facts and evidence made with sufficient clarity to reasonably support the challenge.

2.  In general, the following types of grievances will be heard by the Graduate Health Sciences Council:  appeal of final course grades, extension of time to complete program requirements, non-professional behavior, plagiarism, and any other matter that may potentially fall within the scope of the Council.

3.  The Graduate Health Sciences Council will hear the PA student’s case (using the procedure below).  The decision of the Graduate Health Sciences Council will be forwarded to the Dean of the College of Sciences within eight class days of the hearing.  If an appeal of the Graduate Health Science’s Council’s decision arises the Dean can affirm or overturn the decision.  The Dean will inform the PA graduate student and the council of the final decision.  There is no appeal of the Dean’s decision.

Health Sciences Council Grievance and Appeals Policy

1.  The Graduate Health Sciences council will be comprised of 3 WLU faculty from the College of Sciences. The members, as well as the Chair of the Graduate Health Sciences Council, will be selected by Dean of the College of Sciences in consultation with the Physician Assistant Program Director. The Program Director will provide the PA student with a copy of this procedure.
2.  The PA student may select a (WLU faculty or staff member) as an advocate to assist in the preparation and presentation of the petition. The advocate may appear with the student before the Council.  The advocate can consult with the student but, may not speak directly to the Council.
3.  The student, working with his/her advocate, will produce a written allegation describing the grievance, a summary of the circumstances surrounding it, the related evidence, and what has already been done in attempting to resolve it.   Sufficient copies of this document must be delivered by the student to all faculty members of the Graduate Health Sciences Council at least 48 hours prior to the hearing.
4.  The PA student will work with the chair of the Graduate Health Sciences Council to schedule the hearing at a mutually agreeable time.  The student is entitled to a hearing within 15 class days of the time the student first contacts the Chair of the Graduate Health Sciences Council.
5.  At the hearing, the PA student will have a reasonable amount of time (about 15 minutes) to present his or her grievance.  The faculty member and/or program representative will then have a similar amount of time.  Neither of the affected parties will be present to hear the other party’s presentation; neither of the affected parties will be present during deliberations.  The Graduate Health Sciences Council may hear additional witnesses at the chair’s discretion.  A decision will be forwarded to the Dean within 8 class days of the hearing.
6.  There will be no legal counsel present in the hearing.
7.  The Graduate Health Sciences Council shall maintain confidentiality concerning any information presented in the hearing; all materials shall be maintained in the Office of the Dean of the College of Sciences.
8. The Graduate Health Sciences Council and PA Program Director shall have access to all materials that are relevant to the case.
9.  Cases brought before Graduate Health Sciences Council will be decided by a simple majority vote.
10. The PA student may withdraw the grievance at any point in the proceedings by requesting in writing to the Dean or Chair of the Graduate Health Sciences Council.
11.   The Dean or Chair of the Health Sciences Council may grant an extension of the time limit of this procedure for good cause.

PLEASE NOTE:  The policies and procedures stated in this handbook take precedence over West Liberty University policies and procedures.

Policy Regarding Dismissal from the Program

Regarding Remediation, Deceleration and Dismissal From the Program

Grading and Assessment:

The WLU PA Program is a competency based program. Students are required to complete each component of the program successfully before progressing on to the next phase. The minimum passing score is 70% on all didactic exams and 60% on EOR exams, and a grade of “satisfactory” on professionalism, all skills and clinical clerkships. The minimum passing grade is a C for each course using a letter system. A “satisfactory” must be obtained in all courses graded as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Student progress is monitored and documented in a manner that promptly identifies deficiencies in knowledge or skills. Students who are identified through self-referral or through faculty observation as being at risk for failure will be referred for remediation. Remediation may include tutoring, self-study, reading assignments, completion of specific tasks, written response to selected exam items, or referral to the Learning and Student Development Center for counseling.

Guidelines for Remediation and Dismissal:

1.  Remediation is required for any failed written examination or skills assessment.  (Written exam or skills assessment = written tests, check-offs/lab practicals, papers, presentations, OSCE’s, and end-of rotation (EOR) exams)
2.  Remediation of exams and skills assessments must be completed within two weeks.
3.  Remediation is for learning, and the student must demonstrate he/she has learned the material for the areas in which the deficiency was identified.
4.  Successful remediation will allow the student to progress, however, the original assessment score will be recorded and will count toward the final course score.
5.  Remediation may also be required when an academic or professional deficiency is identified by a faculty member in any other activity associated with the PA program.
6.  Failure to successfully remediate will trigger a comprehensive review of the student’s academic record resulting in administrative action which will include probation or deceleration or    dismissal from the program.
7.  If a student receives a grade of D in a didactic COURSE he/she will have the opportunity to meet with the instructor at the end of the semester after final examinations. Weak areas will be identified and the student will have an opportunity to do self-study and then repeat a comprehensive final exam (not identical to the one already used).

  • Passing this second examination does not guarantee passing of the course.
  • The remediated grade will be averaged with all other course grades to determining the final course grade.
  • If a student fails to achieve at least a “C” for the course grade after taking the comprehensive final exam a second time, they will immediately decelerate (stop
    progress in the program), return at the beginning of the next cohort, take all required courses again, and pay for all required courses again.
  • The student will not be given a passing grade higher than a C in the remediated course.
  • To be eligible for this comprehensive remediation, the student must have taken the final exam.

*Please note the following:

  • Remediation is student and/or situation specific and is determined by the PA faculty and the course director/instructor.
  • Arrangements for remediation are made with the course director/instructor.
  • If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 he/she will be subject to academic discipline that may result in probation or disqualification from the program.

If the failure is in a clinical clerkship, at the discretion of the student progress committee, the student may be allowed to repeat the clerkship in the next rotation or may be dismissed from the program.  Any student who fails a repeated course or clerkship will be dismissed from the program. A student may not repeat more than two courses total (one in didactic and one in clinical) while in the program.

Although a student may have passing grades in all courses, but when viewed as a whole, the record shows a *pattern of concern (see below), that student will be given a written warning or be placed on probation with a remediation plan. Failure to successfully complete the terms of the plan will result in *Dismissal from the program. Decisions concerning academic issues are made in consultation with the Student Progress Committee and Faculty Committee.

*Pattern of concern:

            • Failure of two (2) or more exams in one course. For courses that include labs/practical exams, failure of 2 or more exams in either the written or lab/practical
            • Failure of three (3) or more exams across all courses in a single term.
            • Receiving a mark of “unsatisfactory” on a Preceptor Evaluation of a student.
            • Failure of an End of Rotation (EOR) examination.
            • Cumulative GPA below 3.0
            • Consistent marginal passing scores/grades.
            • Failure to adhere to professional standards.

*Reasons for dismissal from the program include, but are not limited to:  academic dishonesty, unprofessional conduct, unsatisfactory attendance in classes or clinical assignments, positive drug testing, and inability to pass a background check. Each case will be investigated and will be based on objective findings.

Policy Regarding Remediation and Deceleration

Students are required to complete each component of this program successfully before progressing on to the next phase. The minimum passing score is 70% on all written exams and a grade of “satisfactory” on professionalism, all skills and clinical clerkships.

Students who are identified through self-referral or through faculty observation as being at risk for failure will be referred for remediation. Remediation may include tutoring, self-study, completion of specific tasks or referral to the Center for Students Success for counseling. Any student not achieving the minimum passing grade will receive a failing grade. The student will be notified and will be required to take a reexamination. Should the student fail a retest, this would place the student before the Student Progress Committee and Faculty Committee for a comprehensive review of the student’s performance. Resulting administrative action may include probation, deceleration, or dismissal from the program. If a student fails a didactic course and when viewed as a whole, it is believed that the student will succeed in the future, he/she may be decelerated and allowed to repeat the course the next time it is given. If the failure is in a clinical clerkship, the student may be allowed to repeat the clerkship in the next rotation. Any student who fails a repeated course or clerkship will be dismissed from the program. A student may not repeat more than two courses. A student may face probation, remediation, or dismissal from the program for failure to meet professional standards although he/she may have passing grades in academic courses and clinical clerkships.

Guidelines for Voluntary Withdrawal from the Physician Assistant Studies Program

Students may voluntarily withdraw at any time prior to a formal notice of dismissal from the PA Program but, must file a “Withdraw from All Classes Form.” However, if a student withdraws after the 2/3 point of any term and at that time has an overall failing grade in the course (< 70%), he/she will be issued a “WF” on their transcript.    If a student withdraws after the 2/3 point of any term and at that time has an overall passing grade in the course (>= 70%), he/she will be issued a “WP” on their transcript.  If a student voluntarily withdraws from the program at any time, this signifies permanency which means the student will not be allowed to return to the program.  It is not permissible to withdraw from single courses from within the PA program.

Guidelines for Leave of Absence

Under exceptional circumstances, a leave of absence may be granted or required for a period of time no longer than one academic year under one of the following types: Medical, Military or Personal. A leave of absence constitutes formal permission to delay progression through the PA Program, but does not excuse the student from any course requirements. If a student misses more than 5 days for any reason (medical/military/personal), they must take a leave of absence.

A leave of absence that extends the student’s academic program beyond the usual 24 consecutive months will require the assignment of a new program completion date, new graduation date, and may require assignment to a new class. The new graduation date assigned will depend on the length of the leave and the official PA program graduation date. In addition, a new completion date will delay eligibility for taking the PANCE examination and will delay the temporary and/or permanent licensing process in various states including West Virginia.

In the event that a matriculated student in the PA Program encounters a situation that requires a prolonged absence from the program, that student may either withdraw from the program or request a leave of absence. A request for a leave of absence must be submitted in writing to the Program Director with sufficient information to explain the situation. In no case will a student be granted more than one leave of absence as a matriculant of the program.

If the request for leave seems reasonable, and if the student is in good academic standing at the time, the Program Director (in consultation with the Program Faculty) may grant the leave. Otherwise, the Program Director may, at his/her discretion (in consultation with the Program Faculty), deny the leave, require the student to withdraw from the Program or require the student be dismissed from the Program. Conditions will be determined individually according to the merits of each case.

A student who is granted a leave of absence is expected to complete all missed work upon return to the Program. This could mean that a student may have to withdraw from courses, if allowed by West Liberty University, register, and take the courses from the beginning upon return to the Program.

Due to the cumulative nature of the material, the constant changes in curriculum presentation, class size restrictions, and the limited number of clinical sites the PA Program director reserves the right to determine the conditions and timing for re-entry after a leave of absence of more than five days.  Coursework, exams, and clinical experiences missed during any leave must be made-up within a time-frame agreed upon by the course instructor and the Program Director of the PA Program before the student may continue in the program in good standing. Additional tuition and time may be required to complete this program after re-entry.  This additional time required may cause a delay in graduation from the program.  The timing of reentry could be dependent upon the availability of a clinical site. 

Students will not be granted a leave of absence for a period longer than twelve (12) consecutive calendar months unless the time period of the leave is beyond the student’s control and is considered acceptable by the Program (for example, being called into active military service).

If a leave of absence is granted for a period of time equivalent to five or more days, the student must notify the Program Director, in writing, of intent to return.

If more than one semester lapses between the start of a leave of absence and the student’s re-matriculation into the PA Program, the student may be required to demonstrate competencies (e.g., didactic and or clinical skills) and/or take a proficiency exam before restarting the Program. The student must receive 70% or higher on any evaluation in order to proceed in the Program.

The student is responsible for the financial consequences of taking a leave of absence. Students must review financial arrangements with the Business Office and the Office of Financial Aid prior to finalizing the leave of absence.

When a leave of absence is granted, the Program may require that the student meet additional academic requirements for effective and safe reintegration into the classroom or clinic (e.g., remedial course work, ACLS/PALS course work, physical exam proficiency, etc.) and/or submit specific documentation (e.g., a medical release to return to classes).

When a leave of absence is granted, students must notify the course coordinators of all classes in which they are enrolled of their withdrawal from course work, or the clinical preceptors of any clerkships in which they are enrolled of their withdrawal from clerkships.

A student who has been granted a leave of absence is responsible for notifying the Program Director in writing of his/her intention to return to classes on the appointed date no later than two months before the start of classes. Without this notification, the student’s place in the class will be forfeited. Re-entry into the Program will then require re-application through the usual admissions process of the Program.

Upon re-enrollment following a leave of absence, the student will be subject to all rules and regulations which pertain to the new class.

Military Leave of Absence

Eligible service members will be granted a military leave of absence in accordance with State and Federal Law.

Leave for Military Drill

In accordance with the “Military Friendly” designation, WLU faculty may allow students who are members of the US Armed Forces (including the National Guard and Active Reserve) to make up tests and assignments that are missed during a semester if the student is officially called up for military service requirements for a limited period and if the delayed coursework completion will not irreversibly impact the student’s ability to appropriately master the required subject matter. Absence due to required military obligation should not exceed 5 days. Students should notify faculty members of the circumstances of their absence as far in advance as possible and work with faculty members to agree upon a plan of action for completing course requirements.

In 2008 Congress enacted a law giving students USERRA – like protections when their educational programs are interrupted by voluntary or involuntary service. Congress codified that provision in title 20 of the United States Code, section 1091c (20 U.S.C. 1091c).  The United States Department of Education is charged with enforcing this provision, and the Deptartment promulgated regulations which can be found in Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, at section 668.18 (5 C.F.R. 668.18).

Guidelines for Consideration for Reinstatement to the Department of PA Studies

Because of constant changes in curriculum presentation, re-admission, if desired, must be negotiated with the Program Director for the Department of PA Studies. Requests for reinstatement must be made in writing. The student must show that the problem leading to the withdrawal has been resolved such that success in this program will follow if the student is reinstated. Reinstatement is also dependent on the availability of a clinical training site.

Sexual Harassment, Sexual Discrimination, and Other Unlawful Conduct

The below are excerpts taken from Board of Governors “Policy 32: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Discrimination, and other Unlawful Conduct.”  West Liberty University is committed to promoting the goals of fairness and equity in all aspects of the educational enterprise. This policy applies with equal force to employees, students, vendors, contractors, and any other outsiders who may interact with West Liberty University or its students or employees.

This policy applies to behaviors that take place on campus and West Liberty-sponsored events and may also apply off-campus and to actions online when the Title IX Coordinator determines that the off-campus conduct affects a substantial West Liberty University interest.

Inquiries about this policy may be made internally to either the Title IX coordinator, in person, via telephone or via e-mail at [email protected]; or the Vice President of Human Resources, in person, via telephone, or via e-mail at [email protected] Contact information for these individuals is located on the West Liberty University website, at http://www.westliberty.edu.

The complete Policy 32 should be read and may be found at the following web address:

http://www.westliberty.edu/bog/files/2010/01/Policy-32-Sexual-Harassment-Sexual-Discrimination-and-Other-Unlawful-Conduct.pdf

Policy Regarding Tuition Refund

A student who withdraws from the program by following the proper procedure will be issued a refund of tuition and fees upon receipt of a withdrawal slip signed by the Registrar. A student who officially withdraws from a portion of their courses during the refund period must request a refund from the Business office. A student who is required to withdraw for disciplinary reasons shall not be entitled to any refund.  Refunds are calculated from the first day of classes.  Lab and course fees are not refundable. Students who officially withdraw shall receive a refund of regular fees in accordance with the following schedule:

 Refund Schedule
During the first and second weeks 90% Refund
During the third and fourth weeks 70% Refund
During the fifth and sixth weeks 50% Refund
Beginning with the seventh week No Refund