Clinical Information & Policies

Uniform and Clinical Supplies

Information on uniforms is distributed to students prior to enrollment. Traditional BSN students must order uniforms no later than fall of the first year; Accelerated BSN students must order prior to arrival for their first semester. Students will need the full nursing uniform for enrollment in NURS 1020 in order to participate in the required clinical rotations. This uniform will be worn by the students during the clinical courses at the junior and senior level. 

The student uniform consists of:

  • Navy blue scrub top w/ embroidered Penn Nursing seal, Nursing Student, and full name
  • Navy blue scrub pants (or navy blue scrub skirt)
  • Clean, non-porous shoes in a color that matches your uniform (e.g. navy, black, or white) must be worn. Dansko clogs with a back-strap or closed back are permitted; open back clogs are NOT allowed. You may choose to buy approved shoes from a vendor of your choice. You may also consider the Penn approved shoe vendor, Clove.
  • When room temperatures necessitate extra warmth, students may wear an approved navy scrub jacket with the embroidered Penn Nursing seal or the lab coat. A name pin and arm patch/Penn Nursing seal must be visible during activities related to client care.
  • Optional: Lab coat w/Penn Nursing patch

Our Current Uniform Suppliers:

Central Uniforms
(215) 413-0833
Contact: Debbie Langer

Go to “Corporate Account Log-in
Click “UPENN Nursing School
Enter the password: pennrn

Contact: Michael Sabo

Although you are required to purchase your uniform through one of our approved vendors, you may select the style of your top, pants, and lab coat from the approved styles. Both companies are familiar with Penn Nursing shoe and uniform requirements and will be able to help you if you have questions.

After each clinical, all students are required to wash their uniforms. Penn approved Nursing scrubs or a lab coat must be worn over neat street clothing (“business casual”) when entering the hospital or other agency, even at times when the student is not involved in direct patient care. The University of Pennsylvania badge and student name should be visible.  Jeans, overalls, and painter’s pants are not suitable attire to be worn under the lab coat. Dangling earrings and rings with raised stones are not acceptable. A thin, gold or silver chain necklace may be worn.  Hair should be neat and combed, not falling in the face to impair vision or interfere with clinical activity. In addition, students in clinical settings are not permitted to wear artificial nails, including acrylic nails, or facial piercing (e.g. tongue, nose, eyebrow, etc.). 

Clinical Supplies and Equipment

Students should carry with them their own pens, notepaper, scissors, and stethoscope. Stethoscopes may be purchased from any vendor. The School of Nursing recommends the Littman Classic III SE for BSN students. Students are also required to have a watch with a second hand.

Please note: Only minimal cash or other valuables should be taken to an agency. These items should be carried on the person rather than in a coat pocket unless locked storage space is provided by the agency. 

Travel to Clinical Sites

The School of Nursing utilizes a variety of clinical sites, some of which are at area hospitals such as HUP and CHOP, and some of which may require travel to the site via car or public transportation. Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the clinical site and for covering the cost of travel. The only exceptions are for selected labor and delivery sites (NURS 2150), selected psychiatric sites (NURS 2350), and home visits for Nursing in the Community (NURS 3820 for ABSN, NURS 3800 for BSN).

For these sites, students may be eligible to use their personal car or have the School of Nursing subsidize the price of Lyft. An eligible site is either one that is inaccessible by public transportation and/or sites where additional caution is advised by Penn Public Safety. If students will be using their personal car, the School of Nursing will reimburse the student for the mileage driven at the rate specified by the Penn Travel Office. Students are responsible for keeping an accurate log of all miles traveled. Falsifying travel mileage logs is grounds for a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Students utilizing Lyft will be added to the Penn Nursing Lyft account and will receive a reduced rate. Students must travel in at least groups of two. Improper use of the Penn Nursing Lyft account is also a violation of the Code of Student Conduct.

Please note:  When the University is closed for snow or weather emergencies, clinicals are canceled.

Malpractice Insurance

Nursing students do not have to obtain malpractice insurance before entering the first clinical, as the University insurance policy covers them during all course-related clinical experiences. However, students contemplating clinical employment must obtain their own malpractice coverage, as the University’s policy does not cover students in employment‑related situations. 

Management of Needlesticks and Other Blood/Body Fluid Exposure for Students on Clinical Rotation

Body Fluid Exposure (BFE) Instructions for Students:

If you experience a Body Fluid Exposure while on a clinical rotation, immediately:

  1. Wash the area
  2. Notify your clinical supervisor*
  3. Report immediately to the facility’s Occupational Medicine department, if open, or Emergency Department, if not, for evaluation of the exposure unless you are at HUP. If you are HUP, report to the Student Health Service immediately, unless it is after hours.  If it is after hours, report to HUP’s Emergency Department.
    • The goal is to be evaluated quickly so that you can be started on HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) promptly, if necessary.
    • If the facility does not have an Occupational Medicine or Emergency Department, report immediately to SHS.
    • Request a copy of treatment plan and source patient results, when available, for your primary care provider (SHS)
  4. Call SHS on the day of BFE to schedule a non-urgent evaluation at SHS within 1 week
    • Not necessary if initial evaluation was performed at SHS
    • Bring treatment plan from initial evaluation, including baseline lab work and medications ordered, and source patient results to SHS


Body Fluid Exposure (BFE) Instructions for Clinical Supervisors*:

If a student under your supervision experiences a BFE,

  1. Encourage the student to wash the area and report for immediate evaluation of the exposure.
    • Prompt evaluation is important in HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
    • Direct the student to the facility’s Occupational Medicine department, if open, or Emergency Department, if not, or SHS, if the facility does not have an Occupational Medicine department. If at HUP, report to the Student Health Service immediately, unless it is after hours.  If it is after hours, report to HUP’s Emergency Department.
    • Note the name and second identifier of the source patient and give it to the exposed student to take to his/her evaluation
  2. Arrange for source patient testing.
    • We find that the complicated processes surrounding source patient testing sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety in students. Your help in obtaining prompt source patient testing will be an invaluable service to your student. 
    • Contact the treating physician/provider of the source patient to explain the exposure and request testing for HIV, HBV and HCV.
    • Arrange to get the results to the student as quickly as possible. 
  1. The clinical instructor is to inform the Office of Student Information (; 215.898.8127) and the Advising team (; 215.573.2205) by e-mail and telephone of the incident, including the name of the student, time, date and location of exposure. Notification should occur as soon as possible.

*A “clinical supervisor” is the resource staff member who is most readily available to the student in the clinical setting. Depending on the program and setting, it can be an intern, attending physician, primary care unit group leader, clinical instructor, preceptor, etc. 

Safe Conduct in Making Home Visits

Home visiting, as part of community health nursing care to patients in their own home, is an integral part of the curriculum of the School of Nursing. Current trends in health care provision reflect increased delivery of services outside the hospital.  Students derive significant benefit from making home visits: enhanced interaction with patients and their families; opportunities to develop increasing independence in implementing nursing roles; and understanding of the role of the community in providing social and health services. Both the School and the students have important roles in providing safe experiences for nursing students in making home visits in the Philadelphia and surrounding areas.

Role of the School

The School of Nursing will provide an orientation to home visiting prior to the first student home visiting experience.  This orientation will include education about safe conduct in making home visits, discussion of the leaflet “Suggestions for Safe Conduct,” and clarification of the student nursing role in the community. During the community health nursing course, students will participate in an extended orientation to their particular service neighborhood in order to familiarize themselves with that area and its resources.

School faculty will have regular communication with the clinical agencies to identify and minimize/eliminate potential sources of problems. Course faculty will also review the location of cases and/or specific neighborhoods with appropriate community agencies to ascertain the safety of making home visits in these locations. Clinical instructors supervising home visiting experiences will encourage feedback and discussion concerning potential safety problems with students in their clinical groups. Clinical experiences will be planned to enable students to make independent home visits with a student partner. Please refer to the section in this Handbook titled “Travel to Clinical Sites” regarding transportation to the homes.

Role of the Student

Students will participate in class and clinical discussions about safe conduct in making home visits. Written material will also be provided to them about safety practices, and students will seek clarification of any questions they have about applying any of the recommended practices. Students will be accountable to the faculty and each other in implementing safe-conduct practices while making home visits in the community. The concrete application of practices that facilitate safety while making home visits is considered an ongoing process involving both faculty and students. This process will be assisted by clear, open, and continuing communication between students and faculty about safety issues.

Standards for Professional Behavior in the Clinical Learning Environment


Clinical experiences at all levels of the BSN program present crucial opportunities for students to apply classroom learning and develop proficiency in caring for patients. Various aspects of clinical settings present myriad opportunities for learning that appear unexpectedly, but also pitfalls when students are unaware of expectations. Clinical work is also an area of the program where patient safety and well-being takes precedence over most other considerations.

The role of the clinical instructor, working intensively with small groups of students, is to facilitate sound educational experiences for the entire group of students to whom s/he is assigned. 

The School of Nursing is responsible to students, the community and the various groups that regulate our programs to ensure that all students complete pre-established amounts of time in the approved clinical settings, and that they behave in a professional manner. 

Professional conduct by all students and faculty members facilitates students’ learning opportunities, and fosters a strong working relationship between the School of Nursing and the various clinical agencies.


1. General
  1. In addition to being thoroughly familiar with this statement, students are expected to abide by course-specific policies that are detailed in the syllabi for each clinical course.
  2. In all matters, students are expected to conduct themselves as engaged, respectful visitors to clinical settings, and developing professionals.  It is important to comport one’s self in ways that engender the confidence and respect of staff members, patients, and families. Casual talk, loud speaking, and group socializing are a few examples of behaviors that reflect poorly on individual students, as well as on Penn Nursing.
  3. Students are reminded that social relationships with patients, families or staff are not acceptable while in the clinical learning environment. Please strive to have positive, professional interactions with both staff members and patients/families.
  4. Students are expected to adhere to all standards and guidelines of the institutions or agencies where they are assigned for clinical learning. Instructors will point out important rules/standards, especially ones that are unusual or unique to a particular setting, at the beginning of placements, but students are expected to use common sense and to ask about use of resources and scope of acts allowed to students before acting. When the School of Nursing and agency policies are in conflict, whichever is more stringent/restrictive will apply.
  5. The list of issues that appears below is not exhaustive. Students are strongly encouraged to speak with their instructor whenever in doubt about proper conduct. 
2. Attire
  1. The School of Nursing’s uniform policy for undergraduate students, found elsewhere in this student handbook, applies at all times. The student uniform not only assists students in presenting a professional image, but also enables students to be easily identified by instructors, fellow students, staff and patients.
3. Notification of Faculty Regarding Absences
  1. In the event that the student is not able to start the clinical day because of illness, contact with the clinical faculty member must be accomplished via telephone at the earliest possible moment. At minimum a message must be left at the number the instructor specifies at the beginning of the experience. E-mail notification regarding absences is never acceptable. 
  2. If a student starts the clinical day, but becomes sick and/or incapacitated during the experience, the clinical instructor will assist the student to arrange for safely going home, or to Student Health or the Emergency Department for necessary health care. If a pattern of early departure for illness develops, the student may be required to present documentation from a health care provider that the student is able to safely resume clinical experiences.

4. Use/possession of electronic equipment in the clinical setting

  1. Students are strongly encouraged to bring an absolute minimum of personal possessions to clinical settings. Clinical agencies are not responsible for loss or theft of personal possessions.
  2. Cell phone use for personal purposes during clinical hours is prohibited.  If a student must have a cell phone with them to receive emergency calls, it is to be turned to vibrate mode and specific permission must be obtained by the student from the instructor to make or receive calls. Under these exceptional circumstances, cell phones may only be used outside areas where patients are treated.  
  3. Use of the Internet in the clinical area is restricted to those purposes necessary for patient care and permitted by agency policy. Use of the Internet for e-mail, entertainment or other purposes while in the clinical learning environment is expressly prohibited.
  4. Use of personal computers and other technological tools such as PDAs and Blackberries while in the clinical learning environment is only permitted for accessing information needed to provide patient care. Particular care must be taken to ensure that patient privacy and confidentiality are completely safeguarded. Names, or other identifying data, must NEVER be entered or downloaded onto personal electronic devices.

5. Use of clinical time

  1. While in the clinical learning environment, students are expected to pursue, either with faculty direction or independently, activities that will enhance their clinical knowledge. If the patient(s) that students have been assigned to do not appear, or if there is a lull in activity with assigned patients (students are encouraged to check with their instructors and staff before concluding this), it is expected that students will seek out their instructor for alternate assignments. They may also use their time to consult electronic or paper resources related to the care of patients in their setting. The following are never acceptable uses of clinical time because they do not advance the students’ clinical learning and reflect negatively on the student and Penn Nursing when observed by staff and visitors: 
    • Homework/assignments for other courses.
    • Reading non-health care related newspapers, magazines, etc.
    • Non-patient care related use of the Internet.
    • Socializing in groups 


Failure to appear at the clinical placement site on time, appropriately attired, and prepared to deliver safe patient care, will lead to dismissal from the clinical setting. The clinical day will be made up, with the student paying the current rate of reimbursement for a clinical faculty member. In addition, the student’s advisor will be notified and documentation of the event will be placed in the student’s file. 

In other cases of problematic student conduct, at the discretion of the Course Director, and potentially the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, a warning may be given to the student regarding the behavior in question, the behavior will be documented and potentially lead to a decrement in the student’s course grade and the student’s advisor will be advised. A second incidence of behavior of the same type may lead to removal from the clinical placement, with a requirement that the placement time be rescheduled at the student’s expense.

In the event of significant problematic student behavior, as determined by the Clinical Instructor or Course Director, the student may be immediately removed from the clinical setting. The observed problematic behavior will be discussed with the Course Director, and documented in the student’s academic record. The Office of Academic Affairs and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may be included in discussions of how to address the problematic behavior, and what further action is necessary. In some instances, the student may not be allowed to return to the clinical setting.

Simulation Policies

As members of the professional community of learners, it is understood that clinical learning using simulation-based activities is a pedagogical approach to reach common goals of effective decision making, advancement of critical thinking skills and competency in psychomotor execution of skills. Simulation-based activities are an extension of clinical fieldwork experiences and contribute to students’ preparation for clinical practice and professional role performance. Within the Undergraduate Program of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, the Helene Fuld Pavilion for Innovative Learning and Simulation provides students with state-of-the-art technologies to perform clinical simulation. Simulation requirements are integrated into each of the clinical nursing courses and will contribute to the overall course grade.

Please refer to the Helene Fuld Pavilion for Innovative Learning and Simulation Policy Manual for the policies and procedures governing activities in the lab. Course-specific simulation lab requirements are included in each course syllabus; please refer to these syllabi for more details.   

Licensure in Pennsylvania

The State Board of Nursing advises all students who wish to seek licensure in Pennsylvania that felonious acts related to controlled substances and drugs prohibit licensure in Pennsylvania, effective January 1, 1986. The Board is prohibited from granting a license or certificate to an applicant who has been convicted of a felony relating to controlled substances unless:

  • At least ten years have elapsed from the date of conviction;
  • The applicant satisfactorily demonstrates to the Board significant progress in personal rehabilitation since the conviction such that licensure should not create a substantial risk of further violations; and
  • The applicant otherwise satisfies the qualifications contained in P.L. 235, No. 64, the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act of 1974.