Current Students

Memo 49: Clinical Break Policy

Students in clinical courses are expected to complete their clinical hours during the academic quarter. No students may be in clinical sites for course-related work before the academic quarter starts or after the academic quarter ends (last day of finals week) according to dates outlined on the UW academic calendar.

Rationale for the policy

Students must be appropriately supervised when in the clinical setting. This is not only required by law, but also per as established in our contractual arrangements (Affiliation Agreements) with clinical partners. Failure to comply with statutory or contractual requirements puts all parties at risk.

Credit may only be given for coursework done during the academic quarter for which the student is enrolled and for courses in which the student is registered. Faculty members are on variable appointments and may or may not be available and/or paid to work during break unless special arrangements are made and approved by their chairperson.

Exceptions to the rule

Exceptions to this rule include when a student is unable to complete clinical hours due to:

  • An acute illness episode within the last two weeks of the quarter
  • Required clinical experiences were not available (e.g., a student in a nurse-midwifery track needs to “attend” a birth and must wait until an appropriate patient presents to the healthcare system)
  • Failure to complete required clinical hours was beyond the control of the student; e.g., preceptor became ill or otherwise unable to fulfill precepting responsibilities and a substitute was not found in time to support student finishing during the academic quarter.

Examples of non-exceptions

Examples of instances that do not qualify as exceptions include:

  • A student missed clinical hours due to lack of organization or other omissions of professional responsibility
  • Student wants to get “more” clinical experience
  • Undergraduate students, since BSN/ABSN students must have an instructor present at the clinical agency/facility

Process for evaluating, approving, and monitoring exceptions

  1. Course instructor identifies that student may have an exception to the policy above and reports the following to the department chair in writing (email):
    1. Name of student
    2. Course name/number
    3. Number of credits student is registered for
    4. Name of clinical site
    5. The basis for consideration of an exception and approval of direct clinical hours during break
    6. A proposed plan for clinical hours during a break (i.e., specific dates/times when the student will need to be in clinical during the break to successfully meet course objectives)
  2. Chair reviews and evaluates whether there is an exceptional circumstance that was beyond the student’s control that resulted in insufficient direct clinical hours being accrued to meet course objectives and that the student qualifies to receive a grade of “Incomplete” per UW grading policy.
    1. If “yes” to both conditions, the chairperson will:
      1. Establish faculty member who will be responsible for appropriately supervising the student in clinical during a break (if it is someone other than the person teaching the course for which the student is registered)
      2. Review the Affiliation Agreement (AA) to verify that a student may be in the clinical area at that facility during break and, if yes, meet any conditions required by the AA
      3. If allowed per the AA, communicate approval to course instructor via email with a copy to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs ( and the Graduate Program Adviser ( and direct instructor to:
        1. notify Chair via email with CC when the student successfully completes required clinical hours during a break;
        2. submit a Change of Grade form per UW policy.
    2. If no, Chair relays the decision to course instructor via email

Created September 2013
Reviewed December 2017