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Retention, Promotion and Graduation Policy

1)     Overview

The Policy for Retention, Promotion, and Graduation for the Master of Science in PA Medicine Degree is established by the Promotion Committee of the Department of PA Medicine within the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (“College”) and applies to students enrolled in the College program leading to the Master of Science in PA Medicine (“PA”) degree. This policy is an umbrella for several different policies and requirements, including: Requirements for the PA Medicine Degree, Matriculation Requirements, Maximum Duration of the Program, Grade Descriptions, Evaluation of Student Performance in the program, Academic Standing (including grounds for suspension/dismissal and due process/appeals), Progression in the Program, Leave of Absence Policy, Withdrawal Policy, and Reinstatement Policy.

2) Requirements for the PA Medicine Degree 

Degree Conferral: The Master of PA Medicine degree is conferred by the Michigan State University (“MSU”) Board of Trustees upon the recommendation of the Promotion Committee and the affirmative vote of the faculty of the Department of PA Medicine.

Degree Requirements: To be considered for recommendation by the Promotion Committee, the candidate for the Master of PA Medicine degree must:

i.  Earn a passing grade in (or successfully remediate) each required course (or approved equivalent) in the PA Medicine program, and

ii.   Show competence in each of the program’s PA Medicine Student Competencies by successfully passing (or successfully remediating) all components of the summative evaluation, and

iii.     Meet the professional conduct expectations of the PA Medicine program as outlined in this Policy below, the Student Handbook and the policies and procedures of Michigan State University, and

iv. Complete any documentation required by the program or University.  

3) Matriculation Program Requirements

Prior to matriculation, each student must meet the following College and University requirements:

i.               All requirements for admission, including providing official transcripts from previously attended colleges/universities

ii.              Background check

iii.             Fingerprinting

iv.             Negative drug screen for controlled and illicit substances

v.              Immunizations as required by the Office of the University Physician and CDC requirements for Health Professionals.

vi.             Provide proof of active health insurance (if not accepting University offered options)

vii.           Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Training

viii.          Bloodborne Pathogens and Universal Precautions Training

ix.             Relationship Violence & Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) Training

x.              Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Training

xi.             Required Matriculation Documents including: Emergency Contact Form, Photo/Video Release Form, Immunization Release Form

xii.           Attestation to technical standards (and obtain visa for University accommodations if applicable) and student handbook/policies

On an annual basis, each student must maintain the following College and University requirements:

i.               Renewed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Training

ii.              Renewed Bloodborne Pathogens and Universal Precautions Training

iii.             Updated immunizations as required by the Office of the University Physician and CDC requirements for Health Professionals.

Prior to entering the Clinical Practicum Phase, each student must maintain the following College and University requirements (in addition to annual basis requirements):

i.               Negative drug screen for controlled and illicit substances

ii.              Certification in basic life support (BLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)

iii.             Verify proof of active health insurance (if not accepting University options)

4) Duration of the PA Medicine Program

The standard time to achieve the PA Medicine degree is 27 months. The maximum time for completion of requirements for the PA Medicine degree is 33 months from the date of matriculation. Please see the Delayed Graduation Policy for further details.

5) Grades

In accordance with University definitions and policy, as approved by the University Committee on Curriculum, the College employs the Pass-No Grade System.  The criteria for the grade is defined in the syllabus for each course.  The following symbols will be used:

·      P-pass – means that a student has met the course requirements for a passing grade and will have a “P” recorded on their official University transcript.

·      N-no grade – means that a student has failed to meet the course requirements for a passing grade and will have an “N” recorded on their official University transcript. An “N” grade is equivalent to failing the course and will remain on the student’s official University transcript.

The terms of remediation can be found in the Remediation Policy.

A student who has incomplete or outstanding requirements of a course, will have either an I-incomplete or ET-extension grade recorded on their official University transcript. Upon completion of all requirements, the original grade recorded on the official University transcript will be updated as follows:

·      I-incomplete – updated to an “I/P”, indicating the student passed the course, or an “I/N”, indicating the student failed the course. A grade of “I/N” requires remediation. 

·      ET-extension – updated to a “P”, indicating the student passed the course, or an “N”, indicating the student failed the course.

A student who “withdraws” or is “dismissed” from the College, will be unable to remediate or complete requirements for courses in which an “I” or “ET” was assigned.

6) Evaluation of Student Performance in the Program

The program provides instruction and assessment that aligns with the MSU PA Medicine Student Competencies, which are the core competencies of the program and required of the student upon completion of the program to enter clinical practice. Assessment aligns with what is expected and taught in the program and allows the program to identify and address any student deficiencies in a timely manner. 

The performance of each student enrolled in the PA Medicine program will be reviewed on a semester basis by the Promotion Committee. Whereas professionalism (profession approach) is one of the core competencies, the Promotion Committee will review academic performance and professional conduct rubrics completed by the student’s academic advisors and/or COM faculty.  In each review period, the Promotion Committee will determine the academic standing of the student as noted in Section 7 of this policy.

7) Academic Standing

A student who earns a passing grade in each course and meets expectations for professional conduct will be deemed by the Promotion Committee to be in “good academic standing” and will be permitted to progress to the next semester or phase of the curriculum.

A student who earns a failing grade in any course, but remediates the course, will be deemed by the Promotion Committee to be in “good academic standing with monitoring”.  Please refer to the Remediation Policy for further details.

A student who receives a subsequent failing grade in any course (e.g. second accumulated “N” grade) and/or a student who demonstrates egregious and/or recurrent episodes of academic or professional misconduct, will be required to appear before the Promotion Committee.  The Promotion Committee will review the student’s performance, determine academic standing (from the following) and submit their decision to the student in writing.

i.               Suspension: Applies to a student who is alleged to have engaged in behavior that creates an urgent concern for the safety of patients or others in the learning environment.  The purpose of a suspension will be to permit a timely investigation of the reported conduct. A recommendation for suspension may follow review of academic and professional conduct by the Promotion Committee, or upon report to a Program administrator.  A fact-finding hearing will be convened within three class days, as outlined in the Medical Student Rights and Responsibilities.  Upon a recommendation of suspension, the student will be notified. Suspensions must be approved by the College Dean or his/her designee; if the suspension is not approved, the College Dean may direct that another sanction be imposed. The student will be entitled to due process as defined by the Medical Student Rights and Responsibilities.

ii.             Dismissal: Applies to a student who has severe deficits in academic performance, or for egregious or recurrent incidents of academic or professional misconduct, or who otherwise fails to meet the requirements for progression to the PA Medicine degree.

a.     Process: The Promotion Committee will submit a recommendation of “Dismissal” and supporting documentation to the MSUCOM Dean or his/her designee. A dismissal from the College will require the endorsement of both the MSUCOM Dean and the MSU Provost for Academic Affairs.

Due Process and Appeals: The right of the student to due process is defined in the MSU Medical Student Rights and Responsibilities policy. When ‘Dismissal’ is recommended, the student shall have the right to appeal by filing a grievance with the MSUCOM College Hearing Committee, as defined within the MSU Medical Student Rights and Responsibilities section on Appeals (5.8)

The status of “good academic standing with monitoring” is an internal designation to promote the student’s academic and professional development, and therefore may not be appealed.

Reporting of Academic Standing to Third Parties: The status of “good academic standing with monitoring” is an internal designation to promote the student’s academic and professional development, and therefore will be reported only as “good academic standing”.

8) Progression in the PA Medicine Program

During the preclinical phase (semesters 1-4), the student must:

i.               Pass (or successfully remediate) the required courses of each semester. Remediation must take place in the same or following semester.

ii.              Meet the professional conduct expectations of the PA Medicine Program as outlined in this policy, the Student Handbook, and the policies and procedures of Michigan State University.

In order to progress to the clinical practicum phase (semesters 5-7), the student must:

i.               Pass (or successfully remediate) all preclinical courses. The student may have no more than one remediation or incomplete “I” pending at the time of entering the clinical phase, and the remediation must be completed no later than the first semester of the clinical phase. 

ii.              Meet the professional conduct expectations of the PA Medicine Program as outlined in this policy, the Student Handbook, and the policies and procedures of Michigan State University.

iii.             Complete the requirements outlined in section 3: Matriculation Program Requirements that refer to prior to entering the clinical practicum phase. 

During the clinical phase (semesters 5-7), the student must:

i.               Pass (or successfully remediate) each course.

ii.              Meet the professional conduct expectations of the PA Medicine Program as outlined in this policy, the Student Handbook, and the policies and procedures of Michigan State University.

9) Leave of Absence Policy 

A leave of absence may be requested by a student who is enrolled in the PA Medicine program and encounters medical/personal hardships that necessitate an extended absence from the program for more than 5 days in the preclinical phase (or 25% of scheduled SCPE).

Procedure: A student wishing to request a leave of absence will submit a request in writing through the College Office of Enrollment and Student Service and be required to meet with the Program Director to discuss the implications of a leave of absence and create a plan for return. The Promotion Committee, in conjunction with the Program Director, will review and consider all requests for leave of absence. A final decision will be granted by the Program Director. Granting leave of absence does not imply a refund of any tuition or fees, and any potential refund is subject to University policy.

Approval of a leave of absence will not supersede a student’s academic standing determination. A student must be in good academic standing at the time of leave.

Any student on a leave of absence for a timeframe longer than would allow them to complete their coursework for a preclinical or clinical semester will receive an ‘I’ grade. 

All preclinical courses (semesters 1-4) with an ‘I’ grade must be completed by the conclusion of the following semester. If a student completes the coursework successfully in a timely manner, the ‘I’ grade will be replaced with ‘I/P’. If a student fails to complete the coursework successfully in a timely manner, the ‘I’ grade will be replaced with ‘I/N’. A grade of ‘I/N’ requires remediation. 

All clinical year courses (semesters 5-7) with an ‘I’ grade must be completed within the maximum duration timeframe of the program (33 months). If the leave of absence is 2 or more consecutive clinical year semesters, the student must successfully pass a Department of PA Medicine directed clinical skills assessment for reentry. Failure to participate in or successfully remediate the clinical skills assessment will result in evaluation by the Promotion Committee and will result in dismissal from the program.

Returning from a leave of absence: Students are required to declare their intent to return through the College Office of Enrollment and Student Service. A student who returns to the PA Medicine program after a leave of absence must adhere to College degree requirements and policies at time of reentry. If a student goes on leave for medical reasons, the student must provide documentation from a licensed healthcare professional attesting to their fitness to resume the program before the time of reentry.

10) Withdrawal Policy

A student will be designated as having withdrawn from the PA Medicine program if he/she:

i.     Gives notice that they will not continue in the program, or

ii.     Declines the option to return to the program following a leave of absence, or

iii.     Fails to communicate their intent to return to the program within one (1) semester prior to the anticipated return, or

iv.     Fails to appear before the Promotion Committee when directed without due cause for their absence.

Withdrawal from a course: A student may not withdraw from a course and remain in the program. Withdrawal from a course will be seen as the equivalent of withdrawing from the program due to the lock-step nature of the program.

Procedure for withdrawal: Students must consult with the Program Director before a designation of Withdrawal is assigned. If the student is to be designated as having withdrawn because of failure to communicate intent to return to the program or failure to appear before the Promotion Committee without due cause for absence, he or she must still consult with the Program Director. If the student fails to comply within 2 attempts by the Program Director, Withdrawal status will be assigned regardless. Withdrawal does not imply a refund of any tuition or fees, and any potential refund is subject to University policy.

11) Reinstatement

A student who has been designated as “Withdrawn” from the program following a leave of absence has the opportunity to seek reinstatement by petitioning the Promotion Committee through the Office of Enrollment and Student Services within one (1) year of withdrawal from the College. 

A student who is “Dismissed” from the College may invoke his/her right to appeal as defined in the Medical Students Rights and Responsibilities. If on appeal the “dismissal” is overturned, the student will appear before the Promotion Committee to determine terms for reinstatement to the program, which typically involves restarting the program with the next cohort, but may also include remediated coursework, and additional assessment of clinical skills. If on appeal the “dismissal” is not overturned, a student may requestreinstatement through both the University and College, which would require the student to reapply to the program.

12)     Review and Revisions to the Policy

The Promotion Committee will be responsible for reviewing this policy on an annual basis during the Fall Semester.

If any revisions to this policy are recommended, the revised policy will be presented to the faculty during the December faculty meeting and would be effective for the next cohort.

Approved by the Faculty of the Department of PA Medicine on March 16, 2020
Revised and approved by the Faculty of the Department of PA Medicine on March 19, 2021.