VUSN Academic Policies/Regulations

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Attendance and Absence Policy | Auditing Courses | Change of Course | Core Performance Standards | Grading System | Regulations: Appeal Process for MN, MSN, or DNP SAAA Committee Probation/Dismissal Decisions | Complaint Process | Leave of Absence Policy | Medical Leave of Absence Policy | Meetings with Faculty and Administrators | Transfer of Credit 

The following academic policies apply to all VUSN students. Academic regulations can be found in the VUSN Catalog at this link, https://www.vanderbilt.edu/catalogs/kuali/nursing.php#/content/60b6677adc4e73001c6709cf.

 

ATTENDANCE AND ABSENCE POLICY

Students are expected to attend/participate in all courses regardless of educational format. The Brightspace Learning Management System serves as the record of student participation and attendance in the online course environment. For face-to-face classes, student participation during in-class academic activities verifies attendance. Course instructors may set specific policies about absences from their courses. The School of Nursing does not distinguish types of absences. An instructor is under no obligation to accommodate students who are absent or who miss academic work without prior notification and makeup arrangements.

Accommodation for observance of a religious holiday will be allowed but should be requested prior to the holiday. Students will be given the appropriate accommodation to complete the work missed within a reasonable time after their absence. Students are responsible for the academic consequences of absences from class, laboratory, or clinical. 

A student whose lack of attendance has led to academic jeopardy is subject to the academic policies of VUSN. For tuition refund purposes, the last day of attendance is determined by review of the Brightspace Learning Management System for active participation and/or participation in a face-to-face class.

In the event of illness influencing a student’s ability to participate in class or meet course requirements, communication with faculty is essential. A student who has been treated at the Student Health Center for a serious illness or injury may give the Student Health Center permission to notify the Assistant Dean of Students. A variety of options may be indicated including a Medical Leave of Absence.

 

AUDITING COURSES

Enrolled students may wish to audit courses in the School of Nursing for which they will receive no credit. A student must register to audit courses. Students auditing courses are subject to the following conditions:

  1. The consent of the instructor must be obtained.
  2. The instructor sets the conditions under which a course may be audited. Failure to meet those conditions is justification for withdrawal of the audit designation.
  3. Auditing students can observe and listen during class. Online material is available for review.
  4. Auditing students are not allowed to participate in class. This includes, but is not limited to, asking questions of the professor during or after class about the course, participating in group discussions (in class or online), or access to tests or other assessment materials.
  5. Audits carry no credit and may not be applied toward the completion of an academic degree.

 

CHANGE OF COURSE

Change of Clinical Placement Site:

Policy

Clinical sites are chosen for their ability to provide students with clinical experiences consistent with course requirements and the mission of the school. The Clinical Placement Office works collaboratively with faculty, academic directors, and students to ensure all students have a productive clinical experience. Due to regulatory requirements or availability of preceptors, VUSN may not be able to accommodate specialty-level clinical placements in all areas of the country. VUSN will secure an appropriate clinical site but cannot guarantee that it will be in the location preferred by a student.

Some specialty-level clinical courses offer clinical placement sites outside of a 150-mile radius of the School of Nursing. These sites are referred to as located outside of middle Tennessee area (or OMTA) and require that students indicate their preferred state. At the time of application, prospective students indicate whether they are requesting an OMTA or MTA (middle Tennessee area) clinical placement.

Any change to MTA or OMTA status must be approved by the specialty faculty. Due to the competition for local placements, it is rare that students are allowed to switch to within the 150-mile radius (MTA status) if they have been admitted as located outside the Middle Tennessee area (OMTA status).

Steps

To request a change from MTA to OMTA or vice versa, the student is expected to:

  • First discuss the request for a change with the specialty director and clinical faculty.
  • If approved, complete a change in status form https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/pdf/status.pdf.
  • The student’s clinical placement site is then updated in the student registration system and the clinical placement system. System changes typically occur within 48-72 hours.

If a student should have questions or concerns related to a clinical placement site, the student should contact the specialty clinical placement faculty coordinator and specialty director. 

Change of Enrollment Status (e.g., Full-time vs Part-time):

A student may change the status of enrollment based on the following conditions.

  • The enrollment status requested is available in the student’s plan of study.
  • The proposed change must be approved by the applicable Academic Director or Assistant Dean.

Steps

To request a change of status, the student is expected to complete the following steps:

  • Meet with their faculty adviser.
  • Submit a Change of Status Form to the Academic Director or Assistant Dean. https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/pdf/status.pdf 
  • If the request is approved, the signed form is forwarded through other administrative channels for signatures.
  • The student’s status is updated by the Office of Enrollment Services.

Change in Program of Studies for NM/FNP MSN Students

Students admitted to the NM/FNP program have an option to complete MSN degree requirements at the end of December and change their program of study to progress seamlessly into the FNP Post-Masters certificate. 

By November 1, the student must: 

  1. Contact Kristie Smith, Director of Financial Services, to investigate how, or if, the aid/loan package will change.
    1. MSN scholarships cannot be used for Post-Masters study.
    2. Federal loans can be applied to Post-Masters study.
  2. Notify NM and FNP Specialty Directors of the intent to take this option.
  3. Two forms must be completed: 
    1. Complete the Change of Specialty Form to drop FNP and complete the MSN in December, and complete the FNP program as a Postmaster Certificate Form at      https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/pdf/status.pdf.
    2. Complete the Quick Admit Form at     https://divinity.vanderbilt.edu/admissions/Quick%20Admit%20Application.pdf and send to the VUSN registrar at sara.a.donahoe@vanderbilt.edu.
  1. Register for spring classes by November 30th.
  2. Implications for Commencement, Investiture & Pinning Ceremonies

a. Pinning - Student completing the MSN in NM and continuing in FNP in a PMC program of study:

    1. Will be invited to attend the December Pinning with other December MSN graduates.
    2. Will be invited to attend May Pinning ceremony to receive the FNP Postmaster Certificate.
    3. May defer attending pinning until May and receive both the pin and certificate concurrently.

b. Investiture and Commencement ceremonies: MSN graduates are listed in the official Commencement program within the specialty completed. Completion of a specialty in the Postmasters Certificate program, in this case FNP, will not be listed in the Commencement program. 

Change of Specialty (MSN/PMC)

Students are admitted to specific specialties in the MSN and PMC programs. Requests for a change in specialty are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and a change in specialty is not guaranteed.

Steps

  1. No requests are considered until at least one semester of coursework is completed and final grades have been received.
  2. A student interested in requesting a change in specialty should contact the Assistant University Registrar, room 173, School of Nursing, 461 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37240 for the required form.
  3. After February 1, the student notifies the current specialty director that a change is requested and schedules an appointment to discuss the reasons for requesting a change. The student must obtain the current academic director’s signature and retain a copy of the form to be used in step 4.
  4. By March 1, schedule an appointment with the appropriate academic director to discuss career goals and obtain a signature confirming the discussion.
  5. By March 1, submit signed form & documents listed below to the Assistant University Registrar, room 173, School of Nursing, 461 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37240.

Required Documents

  • Revised statement of purpose for the newly requested specialty.
  • If applicable, indicate preference for clinical. If so, give tentative agency and city/state of the desired distance clinical site. Do not contact the agency.
  • If no full-time space is available, indicate your willingness to change to part-time status or take a leave of absence.
  • Submit an updated letter of reference from a VUSN clinical instructor in an area closely related to the requested specialty. Either a narrative letter or recommendation form provided by the Assistant University Registrar is acceptable.
  • Submit all the documents at the same time in one packet.
  • Every effort will be made to notify students by April 1 regarding whether the requested change has been approved.

Dual Specialty Students

  • A meeting and signatures of both academic directors is required to add or drop one of the specialties or to change from a single specialty to a dual specialty.

Dropping a Course

Policy

  • The first five class days of the semester are allocated for necessary changes of   courses.
  • Courses may be dropped without entry in the final record within the student change period.
  • Dropping a course may affect the sequencing of the program of study and may change the student’s expected date of completion of the course work.

Withdrawing from a Course:

Policy Overview

  • Students may withdraw from courses and receive the grade W (withdrawal) prior to the date published in the School of Nursing Calendar for each semester less than half of the course completion.
  • If a Vanderbilt course is taken outside the School of Nursing, grade regulations of the appropriate school will apply.

Student Withdrawal from the School of Nursing

A student may voluntarily withdraw from VUSN after completing the Student Withdrawal from the University Form (https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/forms.php). Once a student withdraws, the student is not permitted to attend classes or use school services. Course withdrawal policies may apply. A student may withdraw and receive the grade W (Withdrawal) in accordance with the date published in the School of Nursing calendar. A student may withdraw from Vanderbilt University after the published date in the School of Nursing calendar or after the courses are half completed. However, the student will receive a grade of F (Failing) in all enrolled courses except in extenuating circumstances. If the student withdraws, they may be considered for readmission by completing the application process. If the student withdraws after courses are completed (with final grades pending or posted) the Student Admission and Academic Affairs committee will still review the completed semester and applicable academic action will apply.

 

CORE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

Essential eligibility requirements for participation and completion by students in the nursing program include the following core performance standards:

  1. Intellectual:  Ability to learn, think critically, analyze, assess, solve problems, and attain clinical and academic judgment.
  2. Interpersonal:  Interpersonal ability sufficient to appropriately interact with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
  3. Communication:  Ability to speak and write with accuracy, clarity and efficiency in English and in computer-assisted formats.
  4. Mobility:  Physical abilities sufficient to move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces.
  5. Motor skills:  Gross and fine motor abilities sufficient to provide therapeutic nursing interventions that are safe and effective and that maintain safety and security standards.
  6. Hearing:  Auditory ability sufficient to monitor, assess and respond to health needs.
  7. Visual:  Visual ability sufficient to distinguish colors, monitor, assess, and respond to health needs.
  8. Tactile:  Tactile ability sufficient to monitor, assess, and respond to health needs.
  9. Olfactory:  Olfactory ability to monitor, assess, and respond to health needs.
  10. Judgmental:  Mental and physical ability to demonstrate good judgment in decision-making in order to maintain safety and security of patients and to behave appropriately with patients, staff, students, supervisors and faculty.
  11. Affective:  Emotional stability and the capacity to be accountable and to accept responsibility.

All students enrolled in the MN, MSN, DNP degrees, or post-master’s certificate program must satisfactorily demonstrate these competencies in the didactic, laboratory, seminar, and clinical practice courses throughout their program of study. To promote student and patient safety, students are required to inform the Office for Student Affairs if there are changes in health status that may affect the student's ability to demonstrate these competencies (with or without a reasonable accommodation on the basis of disability). If a student experiences a change in health status, a medical clearance may be required as determined on a case-by-case basis. 

 

GRADING SYSTEM

All work is graded by letters, interpreted as follows:

LetterGrade

Numerical Equivalent

Quality Points

A+

97-100

4

A

93-96

4

A-

90-92

3.7

B+

87-89

3.3

B

83-86

3

B-

80-82

2.7

C+

77-79

2.3

C

73-76

2

C-

70-72

1.7

F

69 or below

0

All letter grades are counted in the computation of grade point averages, including courses taken outside of the required plan of study. F grades are counted in the computation of grade point average unless the same course is repeated at Vanderbilt University and completed with a passing grade.

Academic Standing:

All enrolled students are required to maintain good academic standing. Good academic standing is defined as all the following:

  • a semester GPA of 3.0 or higher;
  • a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher;
  • all grades B- or higher; and
  • all grades Satisfactory.

Academic standing may also be altered by failure to maintain up-to-date documentation of student enrollment requirements (e.g., license, health requirements) or by unlawful conduct during enrollment.

Please note that students who receive federal student financial aid may be required to meet different or additional requirements of “satisfactory academic progress” for financial aid purposes. For more information, please see https://www.vanderbilt.edu/enrollmentbulletin/financial-information/satisfactory-academic- progress-standards/.

Certification in DNP Program

DNP students who are APRNs must be certified in their APRN specialty prior to enrolling in NURS 8105: DNP Integrative Application of Evidence-Based Practice. Nursing Healthcare Leadership and Nursing Informatics specialties do not require certification.

Clinical Course Grades

  • Clinical performance must be at the passing or satisfactory level regardless of grades earned on other course assignments within the same clinical course. If a clinical performance is evaluated as failing or unsatisfactory, the overall course grade will be failing regardless of other course assignment grades.
  • A student who has not satisfactorily completed a clinical course for a period of more than two semesters must successfully complete a one-credit hour clinical independent study to ensure clinical competence and readiness before being permitted re-entry into the clinical direct-care environment.
  • The requirement for the one-credit hour independent study does not apply to students enrolled in Nursing and Healthcare Leadership or Nursing Informatics specialties.

Incomplete Course Grade

Policy

An incomplete grade noted as an “I” is a temporary grade for a student who meets the following criteria:

  • Requires additional time to complete required course work after the conclusion of a course. It is not to be used for correction of unsatisfactory course performance. 
  • Demonstrates ongoing and timely communication during the course with the course coordinator.
  • Obtains approval from the course coordinator for an incomplete grade (see steps below). Petitions for an incomplete course grade must be submitted to the course coordinator prior to grades being due for the semester.
  • Completes a new contract with the course coordinator if an extension of the original contract is necessary.
  • Understands that a pending incomplete grade in a prerequisite course for a course in the next semester may result in a change of progression.

All course requirements must be submitted for grading no later than the end of the next enrolled semester or the grade will automatically be converted to an F. (If a Leave of Absence is taken in the following semester, the grade of "I" must be removed by the end of the next enrolled semester.)

Steps

To petition for an incomplete grade, the student must complete the following steps:

  1. Submit a petition (written request) that: (a) Presents the unforeseen and/or extenuating circumstances that have prevented them from completing course work on time to the course coordinator, and (b) Demonstrates to the course coordinator that a substantial portion of the course and the course work have been completed and of passing quality. Whether to grant a request is the discretion of the course coordinator.
  2. If approved by the course coordinator, confer with the course coordinator to determine an agreed upon date to complete all course work and submit the Contract for Incomplete Grade to the Office of Enrollment Services. The form is located at: http://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/enrollment/student_forms.php.
  3. The student must submit all course assignments by the contract expiration date or complete a new contract with the course coordinator if an extension of the original contract is necessary.
  4. The course coordinator calculates the final grade and completes the electronic Change of Grade to replace the “I” with the final course grade. Note that change of course work assures no specific grade for the course (or any individual assignment).

Incomplete Grade in Clinical Courses

A student receiving a grade of an I in a clinical course must register for zero hours of NURS 5999 Clinical Continuation if the student is not enrolled in any other courses. Tuition is charged at a rate of $200. This charge does not apply to NURS 8105, DNP Integrative Application of Evidence-Based Practice.

Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Grades:

The grades Pass/Fail and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory are not counted toward grade point averages. They are considered in academic performance and progression.

Repeat Coursework

Students are required to earn a grade of B– or higher or a grade of Satisfactory in all required courses (including elective courses required within a program of study). If a grade of less than a B- or a grade of Unsatisfactory is earned, the course must be repeated.

  • Only one nursing course may be repeated one time. A student may only register for the same course twice. If the course is not successfully completed after the second registration, a third registration is not permitted (and the student may be subject to dismissal from the program). Course withdrawals count in the number of times a student may register for a course.
  • Only the most recent grade counts in calculation of the grade point average.
  • If a grade less than a B- is earned in a required elective course and another (different) elective course is taken to replace a required elective, the grade of the initial elective will continue to average in the GPA.
  • A course taken at VUSN may not be repeated outside VUSN for credit toward the degree.
  • Due to the sequential nature of nursing courses, repeating a course may necessitate dropping to a part-time program of study.
  • Courses taken for a letter grade may not be repeated on a pass/fail basis, nor may a grade indicating withdrawal or incomplete work be counted in place of a letter grade.
  • Students may not repeat a course already successfully completed during the current academic program.

Late Submissions:

Course assignments must be turned in by the date specified by the syllabus or instructor. The grade for work not done in compliance with this policy is a zero unless an extension has been granted in advance. Commonly five points per day will be deducted for work submitted after the assigned due date, but the deduction depends on the assignment, course syllabus, and decision between the faculty and student.

The student must present a petition for a course assignment extension to the course coordinator or instructor at least one day before the work is due, and the petition must be endorsed by the instructor. The course faculty/coordinator will deny or approve the request. If approved, the course faculty/coordinator and student negotiate a revised due date.

Probation/Dismissal:

The academic performance of students is reviewed by the MSN and DNP Student Admission and Academic Affairs (SAAA) committees at the end of each semester. Academic performance of students in a Postmaster’s Certificate (PMC) program will be reviewed by the MSN SAAA committee. Academic performance of students completing a BSN to DNP or a PMC during a DNP program of studies will be reviewed by the DNP SAAA committee.

The committee, on the recommendation of the student’s instructors, academic director, and/or academic adviser, promotes only those students who have demonstrated personal, professional, and intellectual achievement consistent with faculty expectations at the student’s particular stage of professional development. If a student is deficient in a major area, the committee will review the student’s total program performance.

Students will be placed on probation if:

  • A semester GPA is less than 3.0.
  • For DNP students only: a grade of Unsatisfactory or a grade less than a B- is earned, regardless of the semester or cumulative GPA.

    Additional guidelines:
  • For MN, MSN, and PMC students: if a grade of Unsatisfactory or a grade less than a B- is earned, but at least a 3.0 semester and cumulative GPA is maintained, the course must be repeated (refer to good academic standing policy) but the requirement to repeat the course will not result in probation.
  • A student may be placed on probation only once during the entire program of study.

Students will be dismissed if:

  • Previously placed on probation and the student’s record warrants another probation. A student may be placed on probation only once during their entire program of studies.
  • A second course grade (may be a repeat course or a second course) is an Unsatisfactory or less than a B-.
  • Unsatisfactory progress toward the degree is being made and improvement is judged unlikely.

When a student is placed on probation or dismissed, letters are sent to the student, the student’s adviser, and the academic director. If a student cannot improve their grade point average because the needed course cannot be repeated in the following semester, the student will be continued on probation if satisfactory completion of the course in a subsequent semester will give the student at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.

Time Frame for Completion of Program

Degree requirements must be satisfied within a specified time period regardless of full- or part-time status and including leaves of absence. Please see the VUSN Catalog https://www.vanderbilt.edu/catalogs/kuali/nursing.php#/content/60b6677adc4e73001c6709cf for details. 

 

REGULATIONS: APPEAL PROCESS FOR MN, MSN, OR DNP SAAA COMMITTEE PROBATION / DISMISSAL DECISIONS

Grounds for Appeal:

Any VUSN student who has been subject to academic action (i.e., probation or dismissal) by the Student Admissions and Academic Affairs (SAAA) Committee may petition for a review of the determination based on at least one of the following grounds:  

  • The academic action was not applied according to the published academic policies.  
  • There was insufficient information to support the determination of the SAAA Committee.  
  • New information that was not reasonably available for the initial presentation to the SAAA Committee has been made available, and the introduction of which may affect the Committee’s determination. 

Steps for Submission of an Appeal:  

  1. A petition for appeal, written and signed by the petitioner, must be submitted via an e-mail to the Senior Associate Dean for Academics. The petition for appeal must be received no later than 1700 on the tenth (10th) calendar day following the date that the petitioner was formally notified of the SAAA committee determination. Written petitions should not exceed five (5) double-spaced pages with one (1) inch margins and twelve (12) point font. A maximum of 3 attachments may be included.

The petition for appeal must include all the following:  

    • A statement of the grounds for appeal.
    • A supporting statement of explanation.
    • Copies of all evidence, specific to the appeal, the petitioner desires to be reviewed.
  1. Upon receipt of the petition, the Senior Associate Dean for Academics will notify the SAAA Committee Chair of the petition.  
  1. The Senior Associate Dean for Academics will designate an appellate reviewer who has served as a past chair or previous member of SAAA and is not currently serving on the SAAA committee. The Senior Associate Dean will send the following documents to the appellate reviewer: a copy of the petition and supporting documents submitted by the petitioner, relevant portions of the VUSN Catalog and Student Handbook, and the petitioner’s VUSN academic record.  
  1. The appellate reviewer’s consideration of the appeal will be conducted in accordance with the standards of review and must be based only on the petitioner’s written statement of the grounds for appeal, the petitioner’s supporting explanation, evidence submitted by the petitioner, the VUSN academic policies, and the petitioner’s academic record at VUSN. Academic policy changes that were implemented after the SAAA Committee decision cannot be considered in the appeal. The appellate reviewer will conduct a review in a timely manner to determine whether the petition sets forth a basis sufficient to provide the review sought by the petitioner.  
  2. Following the completion of the review process, the appellate reviewer sends their written decision to the Senior Associate Dean for Academics.  
    • If the reviewer determines one of the three grounds for appeal was met, the reviewer will remand the case back to the SAAA Committee for additional consideration.  
    • If the reviewer finds insufficient evidence for appeal, the reviewer will affirm the findings of the SAAA Committee.  
  1. Upon receiving the response from the appellate reviewer, the Senior Associate Dean for Academics notifies the petitioner and the SAAA Chair of the appellate reviewer’s decision and rationale for the decision.  
    • If the appellate reviewer affirms the SAAA Committee decision, no further action is taken. 
    • If the appellate reviewer remands the case back to the SAAA Committee, the SAAA Chair will present the case to the SAAA Committee for additional review and decision. The SAAA Chair will provide the Committee’s decision to the Senior Associate Dean for Academics. The Senior Associate Dean will notify the petitioner of the decision.  
  1. If the petitioner is unsatisfied with the decision rendered by the appellate reviewer or the SAAA Committee, the petitioner may initiate an appeal process by submitting a written and signed petition to the Dean of the School of Nursing using the same ground(s) for appeal. The petition for appeal must be received no later than 1700 the tenth (10th) calendar day following the date that the petitioner is formally notified of the determination of the appellate review or SAAA Committee review (depending on which decision is being appealed). 

Readmission :  

  • An individual who has previously withdrawn or been dismissed may apply for readmission after at least one semester post withdrawal or dismissal. The individual applying for readmission must complete a new online application available at https://apply.vanderbilt.edu/apply/. An individual reapplying for readmission should address the reason(s) that they left Vanderbilt and present a plan specifying the changes that they made in order to ensure academic success.  
  • The MN, MSN, or DNP Student Admissions and Academic Affairs (SAAA) Committee will consider an application for readmission on presentation of substantial evidence of a responsible and successful period of work or study post dismissal.
    • There is no guarantee that a student will be readmitted. Readmission will depend on (a) evaluation of the likelihood of the applicant’s successful performance in succeeding work; (b) the strength of the application; and (c) available program space.  
    • If the applicant had an academic performance that led to the withdrawal or dismissal and is offered re-admission, the individual will be readmitted on academic probation. 
    • If additional course(s) have been completed since the applicant was last enrolled at VUSN, the applicant must provide an official transcript of all completed course(s). 

Readmitted students must complete a new background check.

Progression Requirements:  

  • Most required MN, MSN, PMC, and DNP nursing courses are sequential, and a student who fails to pass such a course cannot progress in the nursing curriculum until the course has been successfully completed. This means that a student may not be permitted to take any other coursework until the course has been successfully completed.  
  • Students must hold an active Tennessee nursing license or an unencumbered registered nurse’s license in the state where the student is completing specialty clinical training.  

Change in Level

PreSpecialty: To progress from the MSN generalist component to the MSN specialty nursing component, students who entered with a degree in a field other than nursing must: 

  • Complete all required courses with grades B– or higher.  
  • Earn at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for the PreSpecialty component of the MSN (and a 3.0 by the end of the MSN).  
  • Must pass the NCLEX-RN® exam before taking specialty level clinical courses and no later than the end of the second semester of the specialty curriculum (whether full- or part-time).

Specialty students who do not pass the NCLEX-RN® exam by the end of the second semester of the specialty must take a Leave of Absence (LOA). The student can return after passing the NCLEX-RN® exam and in accordance with the LOA policy.   

ASN to MSN: To progress from the ASN to MSN curriculum to the specialty curriculum, students must: 

  • Complete all required courses with grades B- or higher, and  
  • Earn at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average (in the PreSpecialty component of the MSN).

 

COMPLAINT PROCESS

One of the goals of VUSN is to provide an environment that promotes learning and fair treatment. Situations may arise where a student (or former student) believes they have not been given fair treatment or has a complaint about the performance, action, or inaction of a member of the staff or faculty affecting the student during the period of their enrollment.

Faculty and staff members welcome the opportunity to work with a student or former student who has a concern or complaint.

Complaints addressed under this VUSN Complaint Process may be categorized as being: 1) grade-related; or 2) non-grade related complaints, in each case that are not addressed through other processes at the University. Students should refer to the University Student Handbook (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/university-policies-and-regulations/#complaint-and-grievance-procedures) for a list of decisions and student concerns that are not addressed under this VUSN Complaint Process because they may be addressed through other processes at the University.

Early identification and communication often result in timely and effective resolution. School of Nursing resources, such as the student’s faculty advisor, academic director, Academic Assistant Deans, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Associate Dean for Strategic Enrollment or Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are available to discuss student concerns or refer students to the appropriate school or university resource(s). Students may also choose to report complaints in the Origami reporting system electronically; refer to the "Origami Reporting System" section in the VUSN Student Handbook (https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/pdf/handbook.pdf) for more information. 

When a complaint is not addressed through other University processes, students who decide to proceed with a complaint within VUSN should follow the complaint process described below.

At no point during any process should the student fear any form of retaliation. If a possible concern related to safety or retaliation arises, the student may submit an oral or written complaint directly to the Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Academics.

Steps

  1. In most cases, students should direct complaints to the person or persons whose actions or inactions have given rise to the complaint. The complaint may be communicated verbally or in writing (including via email). Written documents should not exceed five (5) double-spaced pages with one (1) inch margins and twelve (12) point font and may include a maximum of three (3) attachments.
  2. Timeline for initiating a complaint:
    • Grade-related academic complaints must be initiated within 10 calendar days of the date the grade in question is posted.
    • Non-grade related complaints must be submitted no later than 90 days after the event occurred or 10 calendar days after the last day of semester in which the event occurred, whichever is later.
  1. The person or persons notified of the complaint should make every effort to resolve the problem fairly and promptly (usually within 30 calendar days) and will issue a written decision to the student.
  2. If the student’s complaint cannot be resolved, the student may request further review of the complaint through the next appropriate level of academic or administrative leadership. A graphic representation of academic or administrative leadership progression within VUSN is depicted in Figures 1 and 2. A request to appeal the complaint to the next academic or administrative leadership person should be submitted in writing (email is acceptable) within 10 calendar days of the decision. The request for review should generally be no more than five (5) double-spaced pages with one (1) inch margins and twelve (12) point font and may include attachments (such as the original complaint and associated documentation). The VUSN administrator will request any relevant documentation from the previous process. The administrator should make every effort to resolve the issue fairly and promptly (usually within 30 calendar days) and will issue a written decision to the student.
  3. If the student timely seeks further review, Step 4 may be repeated at each successive academic or administrative leadership level within VUSN (see Figures 1 and 2). At each level, the relevant administrator will confirm that the student has exhausted the previous process steps before reviewing the complaint. If the complaint ultimately is escalated to the Provost, the decision of the Provost is final with the exception of complaints that are subject to the University Grievance Procedure https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/university-policies-and-regulations/#complaint-and-grievance-procedures described in the University Student Handbook (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/).

Figure 1. Grade-Related Academic Complaints

grade-related academic complaint

Figure 2. Non-grade Academic Complaint Process

non-grade-related academic complaint

A student or former student who believes that they have not received appropriate redress through the VUSN Complaint Process may file a grievance with the Office of the Chancellor on certain grounds set out in the University’s Student Grievance Procedure. Refer to the University Student Handbook (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/) for details about that procedure.

 

LEAVE OF ABSENCE POLICY

 A student may request to take a leave of absence (LOA) from their course of study if they have completed one semester of their program of study and are in good academic standing.

Policy Overview

  • A LOA can only be requested after successful completion of one semester of coursework and the student must be in good academic standing.
  • A LOA is granted for a minimum of one semester. The total length of time on leave may not exceed three semesters during the entire plan of study. Approved LOA semesters can be sequential or non-sequential.
  • A LOA is approved by the Academic Director and the Senior Associate Dean for Academics.
  • Time spent on a LOA is included in the total time taken to complete the degree.
  • Students in any VUSN academic program must take a LOA if they are not enrolled in coursework during a semester. The only exception is during the ASN-MSN curriculum. (There is no coursework during the summer until specialty courses begin. These summers do not require a LOA.)
  • Students who have not satisfactorily completed a course with a clinical component for more than two semesters must take a 1-credit-hour clinical independent study when the student returns from LOA in order to ensure clinical competence. The requirement for the one-credit hour independent study does not apply to students enrolled in the Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, Nursing Education, Nursing Informatics specialties or the DNP Program.
  • A student on a LOA is required to notify the VUSN Office of Enrollment Services of plans to return to school.
  • Students who do not comply with the LOA policy may be administratively withdrawn from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Steps

To request a LOA, a student is expected to complete the following steps:

  • Contact the Academic Director and the Director of Student Financial Services to discuss implications of taking a LOA.

Leave of Absence Re-Entry

To inform VUSN of readiness to return, the following steps must be completed:

  • At least sixty days prior to a LOA re-entry, the student contacts the Academic Director to determine or verify the remaining course-of-study.
  • The Academic Director e-mails the student and the Office of Enrollment Services about the remaining course-of-study.
  • The student updates all school compliance requirements with the VUSN Compliance Officer.  https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/clinicalplacement/currentstudents.php
  • The student clears all account holds and registers for classes.
  • The student contacts the Director of Financial Services as needed.

 

MEDICAL LEAVE OF ABSENCE POLICY

Students may experience life situations, or medical, and/or psychological conditions that significantly interfere with their academic and personal success. A medical leave of absence is intended to provide students with the opportunity to fully attend to their health and wellbeing, away from the stress associated with campus and academic life. A student who is temporarily unable to continue their course-of-study due to a medical reason may request a medical leave of absence (MLOA) from VUSN.

Steps

In addition to the LOA process, the following steps are required for a MLOA approval:

Medical Leave of Absence Re-Entry:

In addition to the LOA re-entry, students on a MLOA are expected to complete the steps outlined at the following VU website: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/carecoordination/sample-page/medical-leave-of-absence/.

 

MEETINGS WITH FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS

Faculty and administration welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss academic practices and progress with students. To maintain focus on the student’s academic experience, third parties such as spouses, partners, parents, family members, friends, or other students typically will not be allowed to attend. No audio or video recordings of these meetings are allowed. Students may be permitted to have an academic adviser or the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs present when the meetings are a part of the University’s Student Accountability process, the Honor Council process, or under the Sexual Misconduct and Intimate Partner Violence policy, subject to the parameters and expectations outlined in the applicable policies.

  • For questions related to requests for educational records, please refer to the “Student Records” section of the catalog.
  • Any exceptions to policies set out in the VUSN catalog which are related to a medical condition/disability should be directed to the university’s Student Access Services office as a request for a reasonable accommodation: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student-access/.

 

TRANSFER OF CREDIT

Policy

A student who seeks transfer credit must submit the request to the Assistant University Registrar/Director of Nursing Student Records at least six weeks before the course for which the transfer credit would replace begins. Courses are evaluated for transfer credit only after the student has been admitted to a degree or certificate program. Transfer credit is granted on a course-by-course basis, approved for a maximum of six credit hours and considered only for courses in which the student earned a B- or higher. If VUSN grants transfer credit, only the credit hour value, and not the grade, will be posted to the student’s Vanderbilt transcript.

Transfer credit is evaluated based on VUSN course equivalent content (for required courses), credit allotment, and satisfactory completion. The faculty course coordinator and the academic director of the student’s program approve transfer credit.

Courses completed to satisfy degree requirements in a previous program of study cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements for the current MN, MSN, PMC, or DNP program.

For transfer credit, the course work must be:

  • Completed within the last five years
  • Prior to enrollment at VUSN
  • At the same academic level (equivalent master’s or equivalent doctoral level), and
  • From a regionally accredited institution or from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited institution

Steps

For transfer credit to be awarded, the following steps must occur:

  1. The student e-mails the Assistant University Registrar/Director of Nursing Student Records all the following:
  1. The Office of Enrollment Services will petition the faculty who coordinates the VUSN equivalent course for the petitioned credit and oversee the remainder of this process.
  1. Following review of the evaluation process, the Office of Enrollment Services will e-mail the student the petition form and add the course credit to the student’s VUSN transcript, if approved.