The Catholic University of America

  M.S.N. Clinical Procedures

Clinical Experiences

A major component of MSN preparation for nurse practitioner students involves clinical practica in which the nurse practitioner student is supervised on site by duly licensed and approved clinical preceptors. Clinical settings provide the student with opportunities to gain competencies required by individual courses and program completion

Eligibility Requirements for Placement in Clinical Settings

Pre-enrollment in clinical courses: MSN students must meet with their faculty advisor in advance of to plan their clinical placement. Local students attending classes on site will work with faculty to identify and select a clinical site that meets individual and program clinical goals.  Students enrolled in the MSN distance program will initiate the process by identifying clinical preceptors in their own locale and forward information and potential preceptor curriculum vitae to the program director to review.  All clinical preceptors must meet academic expectations and licensing requirements.


Registered Nurses in any clinical program are required to obtain licensure as Registered Nurses in the jurisdiction of their clinical placement. 

Memorandum of Understanding

A formal memorandum of understanding (affiliation agreement) is required between CUA and the health care agency where students are assigned.  Students using a new clinical setting must submit the necessary information for a new setting a few months in advance to the Office of the Dean.

Documentation and Certification Requirements

Individual health care agencies require licensure, health and criminal background check requirements of students placed within their setting.  Students are responsible for providing required documentation of their health and certification requirements in advance of any clinical rotation by uploading it to

Clinical procedures have been separated into sections:

Policies on treatment of information regarding health history and past criminal history, health-related behavioral standards is available in the Graduate Announcements under Policies and Regulation

Before Clinical Rotations

Pre-registration for Clinical Courses

Students must pre-register for clinical practicum courses, MOUs must be in place between CUA and the healthcare agency prior to beginning clinical rotation.   

Documentation Requirements

Prior to starting clinical courses, there are requirements that the student must complete and document. Students submit this documentation to where it is reviewed.

Background Check

Criminal background checks must be completed prior to the start of clinical coursework. Evidence of past or present criminal behavior identified through the background check or through other documented evidence of criminal behavior may lead to administrative sanctions up to, and including dismissal from the School of Nursing. The procedures for conducting criminal background checks are located in the sidebar. 

9 Panel Drug Screen

 All students are required to submit a 9 panel urine drug screen (THC, Cocaine, PCP, Opiates, Methamphetamine, Methadone, Amphetamines, Barbiturate, Benzodiazepines) before commencing clinical rotations.

The drug testing is done via the Castlebranch site. When logged onto the Castlebranch site, Drug Test appears on the To-Do List.  Print the document from the site and go to a LabCorp location.  Note: Not all LabCorp locations perform drug testing, please check before going to a location. No previous drug tests may be submitted.


Students must submit documentation of current immunizations before the beginning of clinical rotations. The required immunizations are found on the immunization form.  The polio vaccine is required.

Certification of Clinical Readiness (Health Clearance) 

The Certification of Clinical Readiness identifies any health related conditions that may impact on the student’s ability to work in the clinical setting. Documentation is done at the beginning of each academic year. 

Annual PPD

Annually, all students must submit documentation of PPD status.  A PPD test is valid for one year.  All PPDs must be valid through the entire academic year. Documentation is done at the beginning of each academic year.  The form must be submitted annually. 

Flu Shot

You are required to have a flu shot to participate in clinical rotations.  Please submit the School of Nursing form and provider receipt. 

CPR Certification

All students must have current CPR that is certified by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association for 2 man rescue and for child and infant rescue.  Internet CPR certification is not acceptable.

On the American Red Cross site, students should First Aid, CPR, AED for Professional Rescuers.


All submitted requirements must be valid for the entire academic year.


Health, Basic Life Support and Licensure Requirements


Students must report, immediately in writing, any changes in health status which impact their safety, the safety of patients or those whom the student encounters, or which significantly affect their progression in the program to the pertinent Dean.


Students are expected to comply with all agency requirements for placement in the clinical setting. These include documentation of health and immunization requirements and current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and may include drug/toxicology screening.

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in withdrawal from clinical courses with resultant effect upon the progression in the program.

Submit Copy of License

Licensure: Registered Nurses in any clinical nursing program are required to maintain licensure as Registered Nurses in the jurisdiction of their clinical placement. Students are required to upload a copy of their license into Castlebranch site.


Expectations for Professional Attire When In Clinical Placements/ Practica

Students are representatives of the SON and CUA and must present themselves as ambassadors of their program. Prior to the beginning of a clinical experience, all students are required to contact the preceptor/mentor in order to obtain information regarding site specific attire. NP students should be professionally dressed and wear their CUA ID badge, lab coat, or other clinical site-specific attire (e.g. scrubs). APHN students must dress appropriately to the code of the agency where they are placed.

During Clinical

Clinical Attendance

  1. Clinical/Lab attendance is mandatory.
  2. Unexcused absences will not be accepted.  The composite course grade will be lowered by one (1) grade level for each unexcused absence (i.e. A to A-).  Excused absences are those defined in the course syllabus.  
  3. One excused absence, while accepted, will necessitate a make-up assignment at the discretion of the faculty. Failure to complete the assignment will lower the composite course grade by one (1) grade level (i.e., A to A-). Further excused absences may affect the student grade and possibly progression in the program.

    4. The student is expected to notify the appropriate persons, as identified in specific courses, of an emergency requiring an absence or tardiness prior to the beginning of the clinical/lab experience. The student is responsible to be aware of the specific requirements for each course and to follow those procedures.

    5. Habitual tardiness to clinical/lab, defined as more than one occurrence, will result in lowering of the composite course grade by one level (i.e., A to A-) for each occurrence.

The faculty and administration in the SON consider attendance in class and at clinical necessary to master the body of knowledge needed for safe clinical practice and adequate preparation for licensure. Students are expected to be both prompt and well prepared when they attend clinical and classes. 

Clinical Incident

A clinical incident is any injury, unprotected exposure to a pathogen, or accident which occurs during a clinical practicum/placement. Promoting student and patient safety is the first priority in responding to a clinical incident.

All students are required to carry health insurance. It is helpful if students keep health insurance coverage information with them during clinical practice and if they submit information about coverage along with their health history information.

Students are encouraged to keep notification information current on Cardinal Station so that correct and prompt notifications of family members may be made in the case of serious incidents.

Clinical Incident Procedures

  1. Any injury requiring immediate, emergency care should be treated at the nearest emergency facility. Please notify the faculty member as soon as possible; the faculty member is responsible for contacting the clinical coordinator and then the Office of the Dean as soon as possible to report the incident and to ask for help, if needed, for the student.
  2. When a student is exposed to a blood or body fluid pathogen, the agency clinical coordinator/supervisor, agency employee health, and the School of Nursing administration are to be notified immediately. If an employee health department is available, follow hospital/agency guidelines for immediate treatment. If an employee health department is not available, contact the nearest emergency department for immediate treatment guidelines. Students are responsible for treatment costs incurred.
  3. Institute any necessary treatments that should be carried out on site.
  4. Students should contact their own health care provider or the University Health Services for recommendations for follow-up treatment.
  5. A School of Nursing report and agency incident report must be completed by faculty and the injured party. Copies of both should be given to the injured party, and Office of the Dean. The agency should be provided with a copy of their incident report. The SON incident report should document the date, type of incident, individuals present, response/treatment, notification and documentation sequence and any additional information which may be pertinent.

  6. The incident report will be maintained in a confidential file stored in the Office of the Assistant Dean.

HIPAA Adherence

All students are expected to comply with the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as applied to clinical education.

Failure to adhere to these expectations may result in immediate removal from the clinical settings and additional academic sanctions including course failure and if necessary dismissal.

Specifically, it is expected that all students in SON arrange to complete training on HIPAA prior to participating in clinical practica or rotations; if this training is not provided by the clinical agency as part of the orientation process, the student is expected to complete the CUA HIPAA tutorial (

Students are expected to maintain the privacy of individually identifiable health information (IIHI ).

Liability Insurance

All students in clinical programs are required to carry malpractice insurance. It is charged by the university each semester a student is enrolled in a clinical course. This insurance applies only to clinical practice while enrolled in university courses. It does not cover a student’s personal employment. (See Fees and Expenses in the General Information section of the CUA Graduate Announcements).  *Failure to comply with these requirements may result in withdrawal from clinical courses with resultant effect upon the progression in the program.

Transportation to Agencies

There are a limited number of clinical agencies available to students where public transportation is available. If a student does not have a means of transportation, it is the student’s responsibility to discuss this matter with faculty prior to registering for a clinical course in order to discuss what options are available. 

Unsafe Practice

Unsafe practice is defined as behavior which threatens, or has the potential to threaten, the safety of a client, another student, a faculty member, or other health care provider in the clinical placement.

Unsafe Practice Procedures

  1. A request for investigation of a SON student's fitness for the practice of nursing may be instigated by any person, This request is submitted to the Associate Dean for the involved clinical program. Removal of a student from clinical due to immediate or imminent concerns about unsafe practice automatically warrants further investigation.

  2. The Assistant Dean will review the request and supportive evidence. If the request is based on actual behavior or observations and is of sufficient concern, the Assistant Dean will either (a) recommend direct administrative action to the Dean of the SON or (b) request a review for Fitness for Practice. The purpose of the review is to provide additional information to guide the administrative decision regarding student placement and progression in the clinical setting.

    Until a decision is made by either of these two routes, the student will not be allowed to attend the clinical practicum or experience.

  3. In the event of a review for fitness for practice, the Assistant Dean will constitute a Review Committee chaired by the Assistant Dean, and comprised or two additional faculty members plus one alternate. Typically, the additional committee members are drawn from the SON Committee on Admissions, Progression and Graduation.

  4. The Review Committee will receive all available information about the report; this typically includes a written report of the practice concern, specifically the name of the student, the behavior that allegedly affects the respondent's fitness for practice, and the name of the individual submitting the request.

  5. The Review Committee, through its chairperson, shall notify the respondent by mail, certified, return receipt requested, within five business days of receipt of the complaint.

    Such notification shall contain:

    • the practice concern as articulated in the investigation request and a copy of the "Unsafe Practice: Procedures for Addressing Potential Concerns"

    • The date, time and place of the Review Committee deliberations and names of Committee members

    • The right of both the complainant and the student to address the Review Committee and to present witnesses and documentation to support their position

    • a statement specifying the respondent's right to bring an advisor who may not speak on behalf of the respondent; the right to ask questions regarding the complaint and documentation; and the right to a closed and confidential hearing

    • the right to submit a written request for an extension of time in appearing before the Review Committee no later that 48 hours prior to the scheduled deliberations.

    • a statement specifying the student's right to follow CUA procedures for appealing academic sanctions.

    • a statement that the proceedings will be audio-taped

  6. The Review Hearing will obtain any additional information which they deem important either prior to the hearing or after the hearing.
  7. Upon completion of the hearing and collection and analysis of all pertinent information, the Review Committee will present the Dean with a written analysis of the available information and a recommendation regarding the disposition of the complaint.
  8. The timeline for this recommendation may vary depending such factors as the need for additional information and the time in the semester; however, the written report should be as close to 5 business days as possible.
  9. The Dean will then make a decision regarding the disposition of the complaint and notify the student in writing of the outcome.
  10. The student has the right to follow the published University procedures in the event of course failure or program dismissal.

After Clinicals

Clinical Evaluation

A clinical evaluation of student performance will be done at the completion of each clinical rotation by the clinical preceptor. This evaluation is reviewed with the student and should be signed by both the student and the instructor. The student's signature does not indicate agreement, only that the student has received the evaluation. Students may add comments. The student receives a copy of the evaluation and the original is kept on file.

Procedures for Submitting Background Checks and Health Forms

CastleBranch is how student submit information for their background check and health requirements to the School of Nursing.  Student need to order and pay for this service on the

Purchasing Background Check, Immunization Tracker and Drug Testing

To purchase Background Check, Drug Test and Immunization Tracker, use code HC54Grad.

Instructions for purchase the background check, drug test and document management. 

Instructions for access the Castlebranch portal. 

Drug Testing

All drug testing is done through LabCorp.  Print the lab order and make an appointment at your local LabCorp location. 

If you have any questions or problems uploading your health form, please contact the CastleBranch Student Support Services at 888-914-7279. All payments must be made by Visa, MasterCard or money order.