Essential Behaviors

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Essential Behaviors for Admission, Continuation and Graduation for UW Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma Masters Students and UW Tacoma BSN Students

Academic Services Memorandum No. 31

The following qualifications amplify requirements found in the University of Washington Student Conduct Code. For admission, continuation, and graduation in their programs, students must abide by the following specifications for behaviors and abilities. In this document, "student" pertains to all UW Seattle, UW Bothell, and UW Tacoma masters students and UW Tacoma BSN students.


  • Students must communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and their families as well as with other students, staff, faculty, professionals, agency personnel, community residents, and others relevant to their areas of study. Expression of ideas and feelings must be clear and appropriate. Students must demonstrate a willingness and ability to give and receive feedback.


  • Students must be able to reason, analyze, integrate, synthesize, and evaluate in the context of the nursing activities of their programs/areas of study.


  • Students must possess the emotional health required for the full utilization of intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, and the timely completion of responsibilities in their programs/areas of study. Further, students must be able to maintain mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, students, faculty, staff, other professionals, and agency personnel under all circumstances including highly stressful situations. Students must have the emotional stability to function effectively under stress and adapt to environments that may change rapidly without warning and/or in unpredictable ways as relevant to their programs or areas of study. Students must be able to demonstrate empathy for the situations and circumstances of others and appropriately communicate that empathy. Students must acknowledge that values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and experiences affect their perceptions and relationships with others. Students must be able and willing to examine and change behaviors when they interfere with productive individual or team relationships. Students must demonstrate effective and harmonious relationships with the diverse academic, professional, and community environments relevant to their chosen programs of study.

Professional Conduct

  • Students must possess the ability to reason morally and practice nursing in an ethical manner. They must not engage in unprofessional conduct, and must be willing to learn and abide by professional standards of practice as well as regulations for professional licensure. Students must demonstrate the attributes of compassion, integrity, honesty, responsibility, and tolerance.

Motor and Sensory Skills

  • Students need to have sufficient motor function and sensory skills in order to be able to execute movements and make observations required in the domain of nursing care or nursing activity in their chosen programs/areas of study.

Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities

  • The School of Nursing is committed to ensuring that otherwise qualified students with disabilities are given equal access through reasonable accommodations to its services, programs, activities, education and employment for students with disabilities. The School of Nursing works closely with Disability Resources for Students-DRS (Seattle campus), Disability Support Services-DSS (Bothell campus) and Disability Support Services-DSS (Tacoma campus) in this process. DRS (Seattle), DSS (Bothell) or DSS (Tacoma) is the contact point for students with permanent or temporary sensory, physical or psychological disabilities interested in requesting reasonable accommodations due to the effects of a disability.
  • Students who wish to request reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact DRS (Seattle), DSS (Bothell) or DSS (Tacoma) to start the process for documenting their disability and determining eligibility for services prior to the start of the program. While this process can be started at any time, reasonable accommodations may not be implemented retroactively so being timely in requesting your accommodations is very important. The University does have policies regarding the type of documentation required in order to diagnose different disabilities and a process for requesting accommodations. To learn more about the process for establishing services through these offices please contact the appropriate office given your campus location:
    • Disability Resources for Students (Tacoma)
      MAT 354, Box 358403
      Tacoma, WA 98402-3100
      253-692-4522 (V)
      253-692-4413 (TTY)
      253-692-4602 (FAX)
    • Disability Resources for Students (Seattle)
      448 Schmitz Hall,
      Box 355839,
      Seattle, WA 98195-5839
      206-543-8924 (V/TTY)
      206-685-8379 (FAX)
    • Disability Support Services (Bothell)
      18115 Campus Way NE,
      LBA 106, Box 358500
      Bothell, Washington 98011-8246
      TDD 425.352.5303
      FAX 425.352.5455

Implementation of the Essential Behaviors for Admission, Continuation and Graduation

Potential students will be advised of the Essential Behaviors for Admission, Continuation, and Graduation by including this information in the application packets. Incoming students will be alerted to the Essential Behaviors expectations during program orientation and told where to locate them. The Essential Behaviors will be placed on the School's website or student handbook under policies for academic programs.

If and when a student does not meet expectations for the essential behaviors, the following will occur:

  1. Problematic behavior documented. Problematic behavior will be documented by faculty in the student's record.
  2. Problematic behavior results in Warning letter and a Performance Improvement Plan/Contract. If a pattern of problematic behavior or a single, very serious lapse in the essential behaviors becomes evident, the steps below should be followed so that the student is apprised of a Warning letter indicating that the student's continuation in the program is in jeopardy.
    • Composing the Performance Improvement Plan/Contract. The student's faculty or faculty advisor in consultation with an official of the academic program will prepare an individual student Performance Improvement Plan/Contract that must accompany the Warning letter identifying what needs to be demonstrated in order to meet the essential behaviors and thus remain in the program.
    • The appropriate Nursing Program Committee approves the Performance Improvement Plan/Contract. The individual student Performance Improvement Plan/Contract is reviewed and approved by the Program Committee. The documentation of the lapses in the essential behaviors must accompany the Performance Improvement Plan/Contract.
    • Student apprised of Warning letter and given the Performance Improvement Plan/Contract. An official of the academic program (the Director) and the chair of the Program Committee meet with the student to present the Warning letter and individual student Performance Improvement Plan/Contract. After the student reads and signs the Warning letter (signature indicates that the student has read it), the letter is placed in the student's academic record.
  3. Performance Improvement Plan/Contract monitored quarterly by Program Committee. If the Performance Improvement Plan/Contract is not upheld by the student, the student will be dismissed from the major.

Campus resources

  • Student Counseling Center
    • Offers free, confidential counseling to currently enrolled students. You, as a student, can seek counseling for a variety of concerns. Examples of these concerns can be depression, academic difficulties, grief, relationship difficulties or stress. For more information or an appointment, call 253-692-4522.
  • Office of the Ombud
    • Provides client-focused services for preventing, managing and resolving conflict among students, staff, and faculty of the University. Through active participation in the mediation process, clients develop competencies for preventing, managing, and resolving future conflict. For further information or an appointment, call 253-692-4476.

Revised February 2011