Professional Dispositions and Behavior

An important aspect of being a highly qualified nurse is demonstrating appropriate professional dispositions or behaviors.  The behaviors described in the student handbook and on the practicum evaluation tool will be clearly identified and monitored throughout the RN-BSN program in all courses.  If a pattern of problematic behaviors is noted, an intervention plan will be implemented.

Professional Netiquette

Online learning is based in social interaction, but the communication looks and feels different than face to face interaction.  Because you cannot always see the person behind the words it is easy to misinterpret what is being said.  Therefore, avoid humor and sarcasm, which are difficult to interpret without having cues such as facial expressions and tone of voice to rely upon.  Additionally, to ensure you are sending the message that you intend to, read your communication aloud before sending.

(When participating online, do not share private messaging of any kind (from instructor or classmates) with others. The instructor will not share e-mail from you with students in the class without your permission. Please use professional etiquette and language in e-mail to the instructor and class members. Students are expected to behave professionally and collegially with instructor, classmates, and members of their team.

More Netiquette Tips

Disruptive Behavior

Students who demonstrate disruptive behavior in the classroom, whether in person or virtually, are subject to policy Academic Affairs Policy #12, Disruption of Class.

Social Media Policy

Students will not discuss or post any identifiable information about faculty, peers, patients, family members, or any clinical facility on any unapproved electronic venue (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok, blogs, cell phones, etc.). In addition, students will not leave or save any patient, family, faculty, clinical facility, or student information on any open access desktop or hard drive. Violation of this policy may result in academic penalty.

Email Policy

Students are expected to read and, when appropriate or required, respond within 48 hours to emails sent from the University departments and School of Nursing. Email is the standard mode of communication for University broadcast messages to the community as well as for messages to individual students about academic standing and other important administrative matters. Messages are sent to the JMU student’s official JMU email address ( and through Canvas.

Students who do not respond to attempts at communication will be contacted by the program coordinator, operations coordinator, and/or academic adviser via personal email address and or cell phone number provided by students on their RN-BSN Communication Consent Form.

Academic Integrity

All students are expected to adhere to the JMU Honor Code. Upon enrollment at James Madison University, each student is subject to the provisions of the Honor system and has a duty to become familiar with the Honor Code and the provisions of the Honor System. Each examination, paper, and other written or electronically submitted assignment is submitted pursuant to the Honor Code.

Making references to the work of others strengthens your own work by granting you greater authority and by showing that you are part of a discussion located within an intellectual community. When you make references to the ideas of others, it is essential to provide proper attribution and citation. Failing to do so is considered academically dishonest, as is copying or paraphrasing someone else’s work. The consequences of such behavior will lead to consequences ranging from failure on an assignment to failure in the course to dismissal from the university. Because the disciplines of the Humanities value collaborative work, you will be encouraged to share ideas and to include the ideas of others in our papers. Please ask if you are in doubt about the use of a citation. Honest mistakes can always be corrected or prevented. The JMU Honor Code is available from the Honor Council Web site.


Plagiarism is theft of another person’s ideas, writing, and data and is not acceptable. Here are some definitions of potential plagiarism violations:

  • The intentional or unintentional copying of the words of another without appropriate acknowledgement. When a student uses another person’s exact words, the words must be placed in quotation marks and a citation given.
  • Inadequate attribution of data or ideas. When a student uses the ideas, writing, or data of others and does not cite the source of those ideas it is plagiarism.
  • Poor paraphrasing. When an author simply changes the words in a sentence around without restating the ideas in their own words it is plagiarism.
  • Excessive paraphrasing. When a student paraphrases or uses quotations for a large amount (greater than 50%) of the paper, whether cited or not, it is plagiarism..
  • Self-plagiarism. When a student submits the same or essentially the same work for more than one assignment or more than one course (including a repeated course) without advance permission of the instructor it is plagiarism. Copying your own work without a citation is plagiarism.  
  • Copyright infringement occurs when an author copies (with or without attribution) significant portions of a previously published work, including tables and figures.

You may view an excellent learning module on plagiarism from The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – The Office of Research Integrity website.

When plagiarism is detected, either by a faculty review or via a software program such as TII, the faculty will use the following scale to determine consequences:

  • If 5 – 14% of the submission is plagiarized, faculty will notify the student and deduct the maximum amount of points from the APA portion of the grading rubric.
  • If 15-24% of the submission is plagiarized, faculty will notify the student to rewrite the submission and deduct 15 points from the total grade of the submission.
  • If plagiarism is extensive, more than 25% of the original submission, the student will receive a 0 for the submission and the infraction will be treated as an honor code violation.

You may view an excellent learning module on plagiarism from The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – The Office of Research Integrity website.

Turnitin (TII)

Writing assignments may be submitted through Canvas’ Turnitin (TII) plagiarism prevention service as approved by JMU. Your writing assignment will be checked for plagiarism against Internet sources, millions of academic journal articles, the JMU TII database, and the TII Global Reference Database. TII generates an originality report for the instructor that highlights any blocks of text in your paper that match the above reference sources and allows a line-by-line comparison of potentially unoriginal text from your paper with the matching document sections in the reference sources. Your instructor may choose to have your TII submissions added to the JMU TII database and later used only to check against other JMU paper submissions. Neither Canvas nor JMU claim any copyright ownership of your writing submitted through TII. Upon completion of revisions to your work you may choose to permanently contribute a copy of your paper to Canvas’ Global Reference database. This would protect your original writing from plagiarism at other institutions. However, opting in and voluntarily contributing your work to the global database is an individual student decision and not required by your instructor or JMU.

Honor Code Statement

Each examination, paper, oral presentation, and other written or electronically submitted document is submitted pursuant to the Honor Code, and it may contain the following pledge of the student(s) submitting the work: "This work complies with the JMU Honor Code." Students in the RN-BSN program will comply with this by entering the statement - This work complies with the JMU Honor Code into the comment box for all online submissions.

Late Assignment Policy

Students must notify the instructor if an assignment submission will be late. There will be a 5% point deduction per day up to seven days. After day seven no points will be awarded for the assignment. This policy only applies to individual assignments (this does not apply to group assignments or discussion board posts). At the instructor’s discretion, you may receive an amended due date if you have extenuating circumstances. To be clear, permission for a due date amendment must be confirmed with your instructor before the original due date. You may submit an assignment ahead of time if you know that you will be unable to submit on the due date, provided you inform and receive permission from the instructor. Last minute technology problems will not be considered an excuse for late work.

Reference Format

All written assignments will use the American Psychological Association (APA) format for writing style, formatting, and referencing style. The 6th edition of the APA manual will be followed. APA referencing format for electronic resources may be accessed from the American Psychological Association website.

Disability Accommodations

James Madison University is committed to the full and total inclusion of all individuals and to the principle of individual rights and responsibilities. To this end, policies and procedures will ensure that persons with a disability will not, on the basis of a disability, be denied full and equal access to and enjoyment of academic and co-curricular programs or activities or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under programs or activities offered by the University. This policy was developed to ensure equal access at the University for individuals with disabilities and to ensure full compliance with all pertinent federal and state legislation.

If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Office of Disability Services, the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities. The office is located in The Student Success Center, Suite 1202 and you may call (540) 568-6705 for more information. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodations, please contact the course instructor early in the semester so that he/she can provide or facilitate provision of accommodations you may need.

It is expected that the student will register with the Office of Disability Services, obtain objective and credible confirmation of the relevant condition(s) and prescribed accommodations prior to the start of the semester, and contact the Faculty Course Coordinator prior to the start of the course to allow enough time to effect the prescribed, reasonable accommodations by the 2nd week of class.

(See JMU Student Handbook on J22-101 or Office of Disability Services)


Religious Accommodations

All faculty are required to give reasonable and appropriate accommodations to students requesting them on grounds of religious observation. The faculty member determines what accommodations are appropriate for their course. Students should notify the faculty by no later than the end of the Drop- Add period the first week of the semester of potential scheduled absences and determine with the instructor if mutually acceptable alternative methods exist for completing the missed classroom time, lab or activity. Contact the Office of Equal Opportunity at (540) 568-6991 if you have additional questions.

Testing Policies

Absenteeism: All exams are to be taken as scheduled.  If a student misses an exam, the faculty must be notified by phone or e-mail prior to the exam unless there is an extreme emergency.  Failure to make previous arrangements and missing a scheduled exam will result in a zero for that exam. Students will not be permitted to demonstrate a pattern of missing scheduled exams in a course.  Exams missed for any reason will be reported to the program coordinator.
It is the responsibility of the student to contact the faculty to schedule a make-up exam.  A student who misses an exam should make up the exam within 3 days of the missed exam.  An alternate form of the exam will be administered to those students who miss an exam.

Academic Honesty: All students are to abide by the James Madison University Honor Code.
Electronic exams will include an Honor Code statement. Failure to sign the statement will result in a zero for that exam. Any ‘cheating’ (including the use of unauthorized materials during testing) is considered academic dishonesty. Refer to the JMU Student Handbook to view the disciplinary policies and procedures.

Electronic Quizzes/Exams: Students will participate in electronic quizzes and/or exams within the Canvas learning platform for selected RN-BSN courses. Students are expected to follow all JMU honor code policies for any quiz or exam completion.  

Reporting of Exam Results: Faculty require a minimum of 24 hours to review exam results, including item analysis and scores will be posted within one week of the examination. Please do not call or email faculty regarding grades. It is inappropriate and unprofessional to argue with faculty regarding exam questions since course faculty are experts on the topic. Students may appeal test questions in writing following the appeals policy.

Substance Testing Policy

The James Madison University (JMU) School of Nursing (SON) is committed to maintaining a healthy drug and alcohol-free environment for the safety of our students, staff, visitors, and patients. The SON believes that each student has a personal obligation to practice health conscious behaviors to foster clear and rational decision making. Patient safety is paramount and serves as the foundation of the Substance Testing Policy. Students that use, possess or distribute illegal drugs, use drugs not prescribed for them, are impaired in the classroom or other educational setting, and/or abuse drugs or alcohol will be subject restorative and disciplinary procedures.

  • Substance testing is required when admitted into the nursing program and must be completed following the SON procedure.
  • Substance testing may be required at random dates and times while enrolled in the program.
  • Substance testing is required if student impairment is suspected based on the presence of indicators described below.

1. If the faculty member or responsible agent (e.g., preceptor, supervising nurse, school staff) identifies evidence of indicators of possible substance use, the faculty member will discuss the concern with the student. If a fellow student or other individual identifies indicators of possible substance use, the individual should report the matter to the faculty member or responsible agent who will discuss the concern with the student.

a. Indicators may include behavioral, physical, and/or performance signs that the student is impaired or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including but not limited to the following:

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or "spaced out"
  • Appearing fearful, anxious, or paranoid

2. If there is reasonable suspicion of use the student may be dismissed from clinical or class and instructed to follow up with the program coordinator. The student will not be allowed to drive home. Students are responsible for the cost associated with safe transportation to their homes. Online students will be directed to meet with the instructor and program coordinator.

3. The faculty will notify the program coordinator immediately. The program coordinator will facilitate substance testing for the student as soon as possible. The student is responsible for the cost of all substance testing.

4. If a substance test is positive for a substance not prescribed to the student, the student will be required to:

  • Consult the JMU Health Center within 3 days to receive medical clearance to return the program.
  • Complete the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP) program called Reflections. The student must contact OSAP within 3 days to schedule the initial session. Distance education students can participate via telephone or WebEx.
  • Report to the JMU Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP).
    • Nursing students are required to comply with the schedule of appointments arranged by the substance-abuse counselor(s) and those of the Office of Student Accountability & Restorative Practices.  It is the responsibility of the nursing student who makes an appointment with a counselor and/or the Office of Student Accountability & Restorative Practices’ Case Administrator to keep that appointment.  If the nursing student is not able to keep the appointment with the Counseling Session, the nursing student is expected to cancel the appointment by telephone preferably 24 hours in advance but at least by 8:30am the day of the appointment. Appointments with the Office of Student Accountability & Restorative Practices may not be rescheduled.  If the nursing student fails to appear to the appointment scheduled for the Administrative Case Review OR to an appointment that was set based on his/her academic schedule, the Case Administrator will make a decision in the case based solely on the information provided in the documentation in his/her absence. If the case is decided in his/her absence the nursing student will be notified via email and provided a deadline to accept or reject the decision.
    • Distance or online students can participate with OSARP via telephone/telehealth conferencing or WebEx

5. If the student refuses the substance test, this will be considered a positive substance test and the JMU Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP) will be notified for policy non-compliance.

6. IF student fails to accomplish OSARP directives, the SON will defer to sanctions set forth by OSARP regarding returning to the program.

7. How do we address this in clinical settings with notifications? A letter will be sent to the clinical site that the student will not be returning until further notice. 

Safe Haven Provision

Students are encouraged to seek assistance from the SON prior to being identified as having violated the substance policy or being notified that s/he must undergo substance testing. A student who has engaged in drug use may disclose the violation of the substance policy to the program coordinator. The student will be required to follow the procedure outlined for a positive substance test as outlined above. Once medically cleared to return to the program, the program coordinator will collaborate with OSARP to determine the appropriate form of intervention. This provision may only be used one time. A second incidence will result in dismissal from the program. A student who voluntarily asks for assistance but does not follow the terms of his/her treatment program will be sanctioned according to the procedure for a positive substance test.

I have read the Random Drug Testing policy for the School of Nursing and understand that I am subject to be randomly drug tested from the time I enter the program through my graduation and completion of all coursework.  I also understand that a positive result on a drug test will have an outcome of a documentation being sent to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices for a drug violation.  If I refuse to take a random drug test that I have contractually agreed to take for the program, I understand that documentation will be sent to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices for a non-compliance with an official request violation.  If I have violations sent to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices for these violations, I agree, through my signature below, that the School of Nursing will have a right to know the outcome of the case they documented and sent to the office regarding these violations, including any written reflections from any sanctions imposed. I also understand that in revealing the outcome of a case to the School of Nursing it may inadvertently provide information that I may have had other past history with the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices depending on the sanctions provided for the case.  While this may occur, I understand that I would have to sign an additional release to the School of Nursing in order for the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices to be able to provide more information regarding other cases.

Acknowledgement of the SON Substance Testing Policy is recorded through student’s signature on the Blanket Policy Acknowledgement Form that is uploaded to student’s myRecordTracker account as part of TrueScreen requirements.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and information. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records.

The rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond high school level.

Therefore, faculty members must secure written permission from a student before they can speak to a parent/spouse regarding the student’s education record or academic progress.  More information regarding FERPA can be found at

Grievance Procedure for Students

This policy applies to student grievances related to the instructional process that do not concern grades, discrimination or harassment. Policies for grievances concerning these matters are outlined elsewhere.

To initiate the grievance procedure, the student should submit to the academic unit head a written statement explaining the reason for the grievance. Supportive documentation should also be included. The academic unit head meets with the student and confers with the relevant faculty member. Following these meetings, the unit head initiates the process as follows.

  1. Each academic unit head will appoint an advisory committee made up of faculty and students from the academic unit that will hear grievances of students. The advisory committee may take any of the following actions:
    • Examine materials submitted by the student and the party grieved against (“respondent”).
    • Interview the student and the respondent
    • Interview any witnesses requested by the student, the respondent or the committee
    • Request additional materials from any person or entity relevant to the charges
    • Make a recommendation on the grievance to the academic unit head.
  2. The academic unit head may accept the recommendation of the committee, reject the recommendation, or partially accept and partially reject the recommendation. The academic unit head will take any action he/she deems appropriate on the grievance.
  3. If either the student or the respondent is dissatisfied with the action taken by the academic unit head, the action may be appealed to the dean. The decision of the dean is final.
  4. If the academic unit head is the party against whom the grievance is filed, the dean will receive the report of the committee and stand in the place of the head of the academic unit for the purpose of making the decision on the grievance. If the dean is the party against whom the grievance is filed, the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs will handle any appeal.
  5. Following the final disposition of the grievance, a brief written summary of the complaint and outcome is filed with the dean as per University Policy 3110.

Following exhaustion of campus-based procedures, students may direct complaints to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Additional information is available from their website.

At-Risk Warning

An At-Risk warning is assigned by an instructor in response to a student’s unsatisfactory performance as per the expectations and objectives of the School of Nursing. This applies to performance in either classroom and/or clinical courses.

James Madison University - School of Nursing - At-Risk Warning

This is an official warning of unsatisfactory performance as per the expectations and objectives of the School of Nursing.  This warning indicates substantial difficulty in important behaviors.  Resolution of at-risk behaviors must occur in order to successfully pass the course.

Students who do not meet the SON Technical Standards, course objectives, or who demonstrate irresponsible, unprofessional, or unsafe behavior will be identified as At-Risk. Depending upon the type and seriousness of the problem or repeated poor performance, the student may be placed on probation or asked to withdraw from the course and/or program prior to the end of a semester. 


Students demonstrating irresponsible, unprofessional, disruptive behavior, and/or achieving an overall test or course average at or below 72% in any given course by midterm are expected to initiate a meeting with the course instructor to develop a plan for improvement within a two-week period and will be identified as At-Risk.
Behaviors that are inconsistent with responsible, professional, and safe clinical practice include, but are not limited to:

  • One unexcused absence from clinical 
  • More than 1 tardiness to clinical - Tardy is defined as being five minutes late. Thirty minutes late is considered an absence
  • Expired or late TrueScreen/ My Record Tracker documentation
  • Consistently fails to meet course objectives (as outlined in the course syllabus) and/or technical standards (as outline in the BSN Handbook)
  • Does not take initiative and/or takes initiative inappropriately
  • Is consistently unable to develop communication skills and form therapeutic relationships with clients, families, coworkers, and faculty, even with guidance 
  • Exhibits negligent behavior causing potential damage to the client 
  • Violates professional ethics through behaviors such as: 
    • Carelessness with client confidentiality 
    • Inconsistency in complying with agency and/or academic policies 
    • Failure to recognize implications of behavior for the professional role 
    • Violation of therapeutic nurse/client relationship 
    • Gross violation of agency policies 
    • Consistently fails to meet obligations 
    • Inability or unwillingness to acknowledge errors or areas of weakness, even when identified by the faculty 
    • Exhibits negligent behavior causing potential harm to the client 

This form is used to document student performance issues resulting in the student being identified as At-Risk.  Should the student be identified as At-Risk in the same or any other course, it will result in faculty review, possible failure of course(s), being placed on Probation, and/or dismissal from the nursing program.  The Program Coordinator and Associate Director will track At-Risk plans across semesters and intervene as needed.

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