Student Conduct, Professionalism and Absences

For the purposes of this handbook, Student Conduct includes all E&H student conduct and honor code policies/standards and program specific professionalism policies/standards as outlined below and in other areas of this handbook.

In accepting admission to the OTD Program, each student agrees to review and to abide by all policies and procedures of Emory & Henry College, the School of Health Sciences, and the Department of Occupational Therapy Program. Additionally, each student also agrees to abide by all policies and procedures outlined by individual clinical sites/organizations with which they may be assigned for clinical experiences.

In addition to controlling their own behavior, students are expected to do their utmost to help maintain a high level of conduct at all times on and off campus.

College and Program policies are set forth in writing to give students general notice of prohibited conduct; they are not designed to define misconduct in exhaustive terms, so they should be read broadly. All students are urged to review the Code of Ethics of the OT Profession. Additionally, all students are expected to abide by all College Honor and Student Conduct Codes and Regulations as noted in the Academic Catalog and College Student Handbook.

The OT Program and students adhere to the College’s policies on student conduct. Information and policies regarding student conduct are published in the College’s Student Handbook. The following information and policies are covered in the College’s Student Handbook:

  • College Governance
  • Conduct Expectations
  • Application of Conduct Expectations
  • Personal Property – Search and Seizure
  • Hazing Policy
  • Discrimination and Social Harassment Policy
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy
  • College Disciplinary Procedures
  • Code of Conduct Offenses
  • Sanctions
  • Appeals
  • Student Conduct Code
I. The Emory & Henry Honor Code

As members of the Emory & Henry College Community, we recognize Honor to include, among other things, the following:

  • A commitment to tell the truth
  • A commitment to maintain the sanctity of other’s property, including computer data/access
  • A commitment to abstain from all forms of cheating and plagiarism
  • A commitment to uphold the integrity and confidentiality of College documents, including
    computer records
  • A commitment to deal responsibly with observed infractions of this code
  • A commitment to honesty and integrity in all academic settings

II. The Pledge

The Honor Pledge is a statement made by each student, affirming that student’s responsibility to uphold the Honor Code. Upon matriculation, each student commits to abide by the honor system. Further, each student recognizes his or her duty to uphold the Honor Code in academic matters by signing each examination, quiz, paper, or other written assignment with the written pledge:

I understand that Emory & Henry is a community built on trust. Therefore, as a member of this community, I am committed to tell the truth and to maintain the sanctity of other people’s property, including computer data/access. I will abstain from all fraud and dishonesty in academic work. I will neither give nor receive aid on any form of test or assigned work where such aid is prohibited, nor tolerate this conduct in any member of the Emory & Henry Community. I will deal responsibly with such acts when I observe them. By my conduct and influence, I will endeavor to build a high standard of honesty and truthfulness in all academic work.

Professionalism and the OT Student

Here in the Occupational Therapy program, one of our goals in standards of professionalism. It is critical, therefore, that the development of professional behavior be assessed just as academic and clinical skills are measured in educating OT students is to graduate healthcare providers who are not only clinically sound, providing the highest quality of care within their scope of practice, but also well-respected professionals within the medical community. Each student must demonstrate the ability to work effectively within a professional environment among various types of healthcare settings.

The OT student must demonstrate sound judgment, intellectual honesty, and privacy and confidentiality standards in accordance to HIPAA protocols. Breaching professionalism, particularly when exhibiting any behavior that might pose a threat to the student or to others, may lead to dismissal from the program. 

OT students must be aware that even as students they are viewed - by both patients and medical providers - as part of the medical community. As such, OT students are expected to display the highest standards of professionalism. It is critical, therefore, that the development of professional behavior be assessed just as academic and clinical skills are measured.

Professionalism Exhibited Through Attendance

OT students are expected to be in attendance for all didactic and clinical activities. The OT Program’s block schedule specifically includes time when students are not involved in class, lab or other activities such that, if needed, students can attend to outside appointments (e.g., medical appointments).

Absences from Required Activities

Other than posted holidays and semester breaks and when released from the program, students should expect to be present on campus from 8:00am to 5:00pm EST, Monday through Friday in addition to evening hours for special events, sim lab, and service activities, and occasional Saturday hours for make-up classes. In addition to semester breaks and semester holidays, the OT Program includes time off on some half days during the week. The student schedule, which should always be viewed as subject to change, is posted prior to the start of each semester in the Google Calendar. If time-off is not indicated in the Google Drive schedule, students are expected to be on-campus for program required classes and activities. Given the amount of semester breaks, holidays, and scheduled time-off, additional absences may significantly adversely affect a student’s learning and subsequent mastery of material.

In the event of personal extenuating circumstances (including outside appointments), the student is to notify the Course Director(s) a minimum of 24-hours in advance of classes/activities. In the event of illness, family issue (e.g., family illness, child’s illness), or emergency or crises, the student is to notify the Course Director(s) as soon as possible on the day of instruction.

The following policies apply to all other absences:
  • For absences occurring during schedule examinations, evaluations, and quizzes, please refer to the Examination Policies section of this handbook.
  • For sick absences of 1-3 days please notify the Course Director immediately. The Course
    Director may request a doctor’s note.
  • For all absences other than being sick for less than 3 days, students must submit a request to the Program Director for approval. Program Director will notify Course Directors. If absence is not approved and student is absent then each course syllabus policy for missing classes and labs will be implemented.
  • Submitting a request in no way guarantees that the absence will be approved and excused.
  • The Program Director will determine if the absence is considered an excused absence, on a case-by-case basis. The program director’s decision is to be considered final.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Course Directors regarding making up any missed work and fill out the required absence form (Appendix II).
  • An extended absence (i.e., absence >3 days) will be addressed by the Department
    Chair/Program Director in consultation with all OT Program principal faculty. Submitting an absence form does not guarantee approval of an excused absence. Excessive
    requests of two or more per semester will result in a professionalism evaluation.
  • OT students are expected to be in attendance at all scheduled meetings with faculty and staff in the Department of Occupational Therapy. It is considered unprofessional for students to cancel scheduled meetings with faculty/staff for other meetings/activities without prior approval of at least 24 hours’ notice, unless an emergency.
  • OT students are expected to be present for all clinical rotation activities, including supervised clinical practice experiences and call-back-day activities as established by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and according to the schedule provided by the preceptor in each rotation.
  • The student should notify the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and their Preceptor of any absence.
  • An extended absence from clinical rotation will be addressed by the Academic Fieldwork
    Coordinator and the Department Chair/Program Director.
  • OT students are expected to remain available on campus for all scheduled activities in the program, including but not limited to remediation activities and advisor meetings. Failure to do so is considered unprofessional behavior and subject to professionalism policies.
  • Repetitively requesting (i.e., >2 per semester) to be off campus or absent from scheduled
    activities is considered unprofessional behavior and subject to professionalism policies.
  • For the didactic phase of the program, more than five absences is considered to be an issue with professionalism or the ability to meet all of the OT Program’s technical standards and, as such, may result in students being placed on Behavioral Probation and associated consequences up to and including deceleration or dismissal from the program.
  • For the clinical phase of the program, even though students are required to make-up all
    absences, more than one absence each semester is considered to be an issue with
    professionalism or the ability to meet all of the OT Program’s technical standards and, as such, may result in students being placed on Behavioral Probation and associated consequences up to and including deceleration or dismissal from the program.

Professionalism Exhibited Through Professional Attire and Appearance

The OT Program is a graduate professional program and, as such, students are expected to dress appropriately in both the college setting and at clinical sites.

During didactic phase activities, OT students must be identifiable by:

  • Wearing the E&H School of Health Sciences badge and lanyard at all times when on campus.
  • During any clinical encounters, occurring both in the didactic and clinical phases of training, OT students must have visible identification that indicates they are an E&H OT Student. 
  • Wearing the program polo. Students are required to wear their Program polo to any community and/or clinical experiences.
  • Wearing their facility issued identification badge during clinicals. If the facility issued identification badge does not indicate the student is an E&H OT Student, then the student must wear both the facility issued badge and the OT Program issued badge.

The dress code for the OT program requires adherence to business casual attire and professional presentation for all non-lab class-related activities and clinical-related activities.
Business casual is attire that is clean, with limited wrinkles, and appropriate to present a
professional appearance (including for a chance meeting with your clinical preceptor, professional colleague, potential employer, or a patient). 

  • Clothing such as slacks, khakis (chino-style pants) or a skirt, a blouse, button-down or polo shirt with a collar; sweaters are also appropriate. Suit-coats, blazers, and neckties are not required.
  • Emory & Henry logoed shirts and sweaters are appropriate as are discipline specific (e.g., AAPA, APTA, AOTA, NATA) logoed attired.
  • Closed-toe shoes with a rubber sole are required for skills lab, research lab and clinic environments. Open toes shoes cannot be worn in the OT Skills Lab, Sim Lab, Research Labs, or Clinical Facilities.
  • Jeans are not considered business casual; however, programs will have special ‘jeans’ day and events when jeans are permitted.
  • In some clinical settings, scrubs are considered professional attire and appropriate in those settings.
  • Each clinical facility differs in this regard and many require certain types or colors of scrubs to be worn.

As with other policies, students must comply with Facility-specific policies in this regard.

  • Specific to OT Program Clinical Skills and Sim Lab activities, students are often required to wear clothing that permits non-invasive physical examinations. Sports bras, shorts with spandex/compression shorts beneath, sweatshirts and sweatpants are appropriate. Course instructors will determine appropriate attire for lab activities.
  • Certain jewelry is inappropriate in lab and clinical settings (e.g., necklaces outside of shirt or blouse, nose rings, hanging earrings, bangles, non-medical bracelets, sharp-edged or large protruding rings). Additionally, gauge earrings may need to be removed or covered.

Attire for Clinical Practice Experiences (e.g., Fieldwork, Clinicals, Practicums):

  • Business attire is the general rule. However, different clinical environments require different attire – the dress code may be determined by clinical sites and students will be required to follow clinic-specific dress codes (e.g., scrubs).
  • Nails must be short so as not to cause discomfort to patients during exams and procedures. You should not be able to visualize the nail edge when looking at the finger from the palmar surface. Colored nail polish is inappropriate. Acrylic and gel fingernails are prohibited in didactic and clinical settings.
  • Hair should not fall forward to touch a patient or contaminate a sterile field when examining or treating patients.
  • From a clinical perspective, long hair poses a safety risk. In certain settings, hair must be off the face and, if long, in a ponytail or similar configuration.
  • Facial hair, if present, should be neat, clean, and well-groomed.
  • Due to personal infectious disease risk, some facilities may not permit mustaches or beards.
  • Given the potential patient and classmate sensitivities, perfume and cologne are to be avoided in all settings.
  • Tattoos considered offensive, as determined by course instructor, patients and/or site supervisors, must be covered. Additionally, some clinical sites may require students to cover all tattoos on exposed surfaces. Student must follow the policies of clinical sites.
  • It is vital that, at all times - regardless of movement or positioning and regardless of the setting - chosen attire covers the 4 ‘B’s (i.e., belly, breasts, back, and buttocks).

Inappropriate Attire includes:

  • Clothing inappropriate for the activity/setting
  • Clothing or lack of clothing that is, as determined by faculty, staff, and clinical preceptors to be too-revealing, too-tight, too-transparent
  • Baseball hats
  • Flip-flops or similar footwear
  • Open-toed shoes when in a clinical, lab, or research environment
  • Other attire that is deemed inappropriate by principal faculty and/or instructional faculty (e.g., preceptors).

Professionalism Exhibited Through Professional Conduct

The Occupational Therapy student should show respect to all other individuals (e.g., faculty, preceptors, patients, peers) by:

  • Remaining attentive.
  • Arriving on time and not leaving early, thereby not disturbing class or clinic by entering after a presentation or patient encounter has begun or leaving before a presentation or patient encounter have been completed.
  • Observing all policies and procedures of the Emory & Henry College Academic Catalog, College Student Handbook, OT Program Student Handbook, OT Program Student Fieldwork Handbook.
  • Observing all policies and procedures specific to Fieldwork sites.
  • Not using personal electronic communication devices, including, but not limited to cell phones, tablets and laptops, for educational purposes only during class or clinical activities.
  • Demonstrating professional behavior at all times in classrooms, campus, or clinical settings.
  • Obtaining consent for utilizing audio and video equipment.
  • Seeking and following instructional input from faculty/preceptors.

Professionalism Exhibited Through Maintaining Patient Confidentiality and Privacy

The Occupational Therapy student is expected and required to always adhere to health information privacy for all clinical encounters, including but not limited to, Clinical Skills and Interprofessional Clinical Simulation Lab activities, Mel Leaman Free Clinic (MLFC) activities, Fieldwork, and all Supervised Clinical Practice Experience activities, in accordance to HIPAA guidelines. Maintaining confidentiality towards classmates, standardized patients, simulated patients, and ‘real-world’ patients is equally important and required at all times.

Academic Advisement

Each student is assigned to a faculty advisor/mentor. This partnership is expected to last for the duration of the student’s enrollment in the OT Program. Faculty Advisor/Mentor assignments will be announced during new student orientation. Any requests for change of advisor, either by the student or the advisor, must be directed to the Program Director/Department Chair. 

A faculty advisor/mentor may request a meeting time with you throughout the program. Faculty are requested to meet individually with each advisee/mentee once a semester Typically, annual advising will occur during first spring and second spring semesters with brief advising other semesters. Advising regarding fieldwork II selections will occur during the first spring annual advising. If a student has a midterm course grade below a 75%, a midterm advising will also occur. If a student’s GPA falls below 3.0 then an advising will occur. Students are encouraged to set up a meeting with their advisor/mentee based on their perceived needs. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisors before a concern or problem escalates.