Master of Nursing

Essential Behaviors

 Essential Behaviors for Nursing Students


Memo 31: Essential Behaviors for GCPAPN, DNP, Master’s Students, and Tacoma and Bothell RN-BSN students

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 Graduate Certificate Program in Advanced Practice Nursing (GCPAPN) students and DNP students as well as UW Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma master’s and RN-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
  • express ideas and feelings clearly and appropriately
  • 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 and the exercise of sound judgment in their programs of study
  • demonstrate behaviors consistent with the timely completion of responsibilities in their programs/areas of study
  • 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
  • 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
  • be able to demonstrate empathy for the situations and circumstances of others and appropriately communicate that empathy
  • acknowledge that values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and experiences affect their perceptions and relationships with others
  • be accountable for any behaviors or actions that convey racism, bias, or discrimination and engage in reparations as necessary
  • be able and willing to examine and change behaviors when they interfere with productive individual or team relationships
  • 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
  • not engage in unprofessional conduct
  • be willing to learn and abide by professional standards of practice as well as regulations for professional licensure
  • demonstrate the attributes of compassion, empathy, integrity, honesty, responsibility, and inclusiveness.

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 in this process. DRS 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 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 (DRS)
18115 Campus Way NE , UW1-119, Box 358500
Bothell , Washington 98011-8246
TDD 425.352.5303
FAX 425.352.5114 

Students with disabilities are expected to perform all the essential functions of the program with or without reasonable accommodation. The School of Nursing will work with the student and the respective campus disability office to provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations. While the School of Nursing will make every effort to work with our students with disabilities to accommodate their disability-related needs, it is important to note we are not required to provide requested accommodations that would fundamentally alter the essential functions or technical standards of the program.

Procedure for implementation of the Essential Behaviors for Admission, Continuation, and Graduation

Potential students will be advised of the Essential Behaviors for Admission, Continuation, and Graduation in application packets, during program orientation, and via the School’s website.

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

  1. Problematic behavior discussed: When problematic behavior is identified by faculty or staff, they will discuss directly with the student to identify the problematic behavior and request a change. 
  2. Problematic behavior results in warning letter and contract: If a pattern of problematic behavior develops or a single, very serious lapse in the essential behaviors occurs, the steps below should be followed so that the student is apprised that the student’s continuation in the program is in jeopardy.
  1. Composing contract: The student’s faculty, faculty advisor, or staff member, in consultation with the Director of Nursing, prepares a warning letter and individual student contract (will be linked to a form) detailing the behavioral concern, the expected behavioral change, and a timeline for change.  In most cases, the behavioral change is expected immediately and certainly within the same quarter. The warning letter must document the behaviors of concern and identify what behaviors need to be demonstrated in order to meet the essential behaviors requirements and thus remain in the program.
  2. The BSNCC or MNCC approves the contract: The individual student contract is reviewed and approved by the relevant curriculum committee (or by the Chair and a member of the SNHS administrative team).
  3. Student apprised of warning letter and given contract: The relevant faculty or staff, the Chair of the curriculum committee, and/or the Director of Nursing meet with the student to present the warning letter and individual student 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 file and is forwarded to the UWB Student Conduct Office.  Contracts will also be shared with the student’s instructors in the subsequent quarter.  The student will be informed in the contract of how and with whom it will be shared.
  1. Contract monitored quarterly by the Curriculum Committee: If the contract is not upheld by the student and the behavior resolved within the timeline of the contract, the student may receive a second warning from the relevant CC and be placed on one quarter of probation.  If the behavior persists while on probation, the student may be dismissed from the program.

    This policy is congruent with UW SON Memo No. 31 as revised May 2018 by Tri-campus MCC
    Approved with local procedure: Autumn 2018

Updated June 2022