Skip to Content

Coronavirus: Get complete details about the university's response to COVID-19.

College of Nursing

Clinical Policies

 Clinical Compliance Policy

A big part of your nursing education will be your clinical experiences and our agreements with the facilities where you will be doing your direct and/or indirect clinical hours require records of your immunizations and clearances in order to enter the clinical setting. These requirements include immunizations as well as CPR certification, drug screen and background checks, and any other site-specific requirements. Records are to be submitted to and held by our compliance vendor, CastleBranch. Go to Package Selection to place an order. Students must complete clinical requirements by the designated deadline within the first semester of enrollment. Failure to complete requirements by designed deadline could impact continued enrollment. For issues with package ordering, documentation submissions, etc., please contact CastleBranch using the Chat with us feature through your myCB account or call the User Experience Specialists at 888.723.4263.

All students at University of South Carolina College of Nursing in either direct or indirect clinical coursework clinical coursework must meet the requirements of the clinical compliance policy in order to continue clinical coursework. Failure to do so may result in being dropped from coursework.

It may seem redundant, but because of HIPAA regulations, we must use different systems and Student Health Services and the College of Nursing cannot share your information with each other.

Due to the demands of our clinical agencies, requirements are subject to change.

Clinical Compliance


As a part of the compliance process all students must submit proof of the following immunizations. Influenza, Tuberculosis test, HIPAA and OSHA must be completed and submitted every year. Certain programs or clinical sites may have additional requirements that students may need to complete and submit.

One of the following is required:

  •  Negative two-step PPD skin test (Mantoux) administered 1-3 weeks apart within the past 12 months OR
  • Negative two-step skin test administered 1-3 weeks apart and all subsequent 1 step skin tests with the most recent 1 step test being administered within the past 12 months OR
  • Negative QuantiFERON Gold Blood Test administered within the past 12 months OR
  • Negative T-Spot Blood Test administered within the past 12 months.
  • If result is positive, a clear chest x-ray report must be submitted following last positive test result, administered within the past 12 months along with a physician clearance documented on letterhead. 

The renewal date will be set for 1 year, requiring one of the following:

  • Negative one-step test OR
  • Negative QuantiFERON Gold Blood Test OR
  • Negative T-Spot Blood Test
  • Titers for all three confirming immunity.  A positive IgG (not IgM) antibody titer (lab report required) indicates immunity.  If a titer is negative or equivocal, the negative or equivocal titer result must be accompanied by a booster injection.  An additional titer is not required after a booster injection. 

* MMR vaccine and its component vaccines should not be administered to women known to be pregnant. Because a risk to the fetus from administration of these live virus vaccines can occur, women should avoid becoming pregnant for 28 days after vaccination with MMR or other measles, mumps, or rubella-containing vaccines.

  • A positive IgG (not IgM) antibody titer (lab report required) indicates immunity.  If a titer is negative or equivocal, the negative or equivocal titer result must be accompanied by a booster injection.

*Simply having had the disease is not enough, you must receive a titer and that titer must be positive for immunity.

  • A positive surface antibody titer (lab report required) indicates immunity. If a titer is negative or equivocal, Hepatitis B vaccines and a 2nd titer are required.  Full immunization consists of three Hepatitis B vaccinations administered over a 6-month period to be followed by a 2nd titer given 1-2 months after the 3rd vaccination. 
  • Alternatively, the Heplisav B vaccination series only requires 2 vaccinations one month apart followed by a repeat Hepatitis B titer.  Students must begin the vaccination series prior to clinical course registration.  Evidence of a positive titer must be provided prior to next semester's course registration. 
  • If the post-vaccination titer is negative or equivocal, then one will be considered as a non-responder, not expected to convert and documented as not immune to the Hepatitis B virus.
  •  Tdap within the past ten years

One of the following is required:

  • Documentation of a flu shot administered during the current flu season OR
  • Declination waiver, which must be completed on a school form

Due by November 1 (must be completed after seasonal vaccines are available)

During the first course of enrollment, students are required to undergo a background check through the approved College of Nursing vendor. Additional screening may be required by clinical agencies or following a student’s break in enrollment. Students are responsible for all expenses incurred for background checks.

Criminal Background Checks include the screenings listed below but additional checks may be required depending on agency placements or other requirements. The following will be searched: 7-year County Criminal Search, National Sex Offender Registry, Nationwide Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Scan (FACIS level 3), I.S. Patriot Act Search, Residence History and Social Security Alert.

A 7-year background check is conducted unless the background check indicates further background investigation is needed to confirm a clean check, which means the background check may go back further in years. This will incur additional expense to the student as well as any check of any other registry or records required by law, accrediting agency, or specific agency.

 12 Panel Drug Screen Check

During the first course of enrollment, students are required to undergo a drug screening through the approved College of Nursing vendor. Students may be subject to random checks throughout the program. Additionally, other screening may be required by clinical agencies or due to student break in enrollment. Students are responsible for all expenses incurred for drug screenings.

Drug screens include but may not be limited to 9 panel + MDMA + Oxy Test screening for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, barbiturates, benzodiazepine, methamphetamine, methadone, opiates, oxycodone, phencyclidine, propoxyphene, and MDMA.

All students must document their knowledge of protection against bloodborne disease annually. The documentation must be submitted to CastleBranch before the student is permitted to register for clinical courses, attend classes, or begin practicums.

Annual compliance of eLearning modules is required for HIPPA and OSHA training. Go to Package Selection to order modules. Code: UP68el for annual renewal.

In addition to the immunizations, background checks and drug screens, all students must be certified in BLS CPR by one of the following agencies in order to enter the clinical setting.

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner students are also required to be certified in ACLS.

All USC College of Nursing graduate students must have a SC Registered Nurse unencumbered licensure or be eligible for a SC unencumbered licensure when admitted and must maintain current unencumbered licensure throughout the program. Students must have a current RN licensure for the state in which precepted clinical experiences occur. USC must have state authorization for the student to engage in clinical in that state. Unencumbered SC licensure is required if the precepted clinical experience occurs in SC unless licensed in a Compact state.

All students completing a clinical experience must purchase a name badge. The student lab coat and name badges are to be worn for clinical experiences and as authorized by the College of Nursing. Photo ID and name badges are required for all clinical activities and are to be ordered upon admission to the major. The first and last legal name is required on the name badge along with the identification “UofSC Graduate Student.” Other unique identifying tags may be required per clinical site. Information on how to order nametags is found in Blackboard in the Clinical Information section. A photocopy of the student name badge must be uploaded into CastleBranch.

All students will be required to sign and upload into CastleBranch an Authorization for Release of Records and Information and Participant Clinical Education Experience Agreement.

All students are required to read the Graduate Student Handbook annually. Students will sign and upload into CastleBranch a Handbook Acknowledgement form found at

All students are required to read the Academic Bulletin(s) and Code of Conduct annually. Student will sign and upload into CastleBranch an Academic Bulletin(s) and Code of Conduct Acknowledgement. The form is downloaded from CastleBranch.

 Professional Liability Insurance

Nursing students do not have to obtain professional liability insurance before entering their first clinical. Students are assessed a malpractice fee associated with specific clinical courses. The University insurance policy covers them during all course-related clinical experiences. However, students contemplating clinical employment must obtain their own professional liability coverage, as the University’s policy does not cover students in employment related‑ situations.

Go to department fees for additional information.

 Guidance for All Clinical Experiences

A student enrolled in a course with a clinical component is responsible for finding an approved health agency and an approved preceptor for their clinical experience. A list of current clinical agreements held by the CON are found in the Student Portal under Clinical Contract. Students are advised to locate a preceptor at least a semester before the clinical course begins. Students having difficulty finding an experience must contact the course faculty member and the Director of Clinical Partnerships for assistance.

Students will be able to use the Central 360/Web CASE Form application from their desktop or mobile device for submission of the Clinical Agreement for Student Experience Form (CASE Form). Students will submit their CASE Form after having secured a preceptor for their course and it must be submitted no later than one (1) week prior to the beginning of each course. If the college already approves a site or preceptor, the student will select them from a list. If new, students must enter all prompted information. A confirmation email will be sent to the preceptor and site contact including a confirmation link. The student will be able to track the progress of the approval in the system. See instructions on how to submit in Bb Clinical Information and Documents. Students who use multiple preceptors need to submit a preceptor agreement (CASE Form) for each preceptor.

Upon receipt of this information, 4 - 9 months are required to complete the approval process for a new site contract or renewal site contract for clinical placement. Students CANNOT begin clinical experience until they receive contract verification and preceptor approval by the student’s course professor. Going to clinical without the appropriate approval of contracts, course professor, and necessary forms in place will result in course failure and may be grounds for dismissal from the program and the CON, a violation of Academic Integrity, liability exposure, and possible Board of Nursing sanction due to possible HIPAA violations among others. If you have questions regarding a contract, please contact the Clinical Compliance Coordinator for the College of Nursing at 803-576-7301.

(Approved by College of Nursing Faculty): By choosing to be a graduate student in the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina, each student accepts the responsibility to present and maintain a professional image by complying with the dress code policy. The dress code is designed to protect the personal safety of patients, as well as students, while in the clinical area; project the professional image of nursing; and portray the proud heritage of USC nurses. The following are specific stipulations of the code:

  • Conservative business attire covered by a clean, white knee length lab coat with name tag identifying you as an RN and USC graduate student is to be worn at all times
  • Shorts, jeans, tightly fitted clothing, and see-through, low-cut midriff revealing tops and bottoms are all inappropriate attire
  • Hair should be clean, neat, and off the collar
  • Other than one earring per earlobe, piercing jewelry is to be removed
  • All tattoos must be covered either by clothing or an appropriately sized bandage
  • No perfumes or colognes, scented makeup or hair products may be worn
  • Nails must be clean and not extend beyond the fingertip.  Artificial nails in any form are unacceptable.  If nail polish is worn, it must be clear
  • Appropriate clinical equipment that is operational includes but is not limited to cardiology stethoscope, ophthalmoscope/otoscope, percussion hammer, and tuning fork.  Other equipment may be needed as outlined by the Agency or Clinical setting.
  • Name badge with appropriate credentials following USC guidelines.

Although this dress code is congruent with the majority of health care agencies, some agencies have dress codes that are more restrictive and should then be followed. College of Nursing faculty reserve the right to ask students to leave the clinical area if their attire is deemed inappropriate or student’s lack of appropriate equipment to carry out the clinical duties.

Students are responsible for transportation to sites for their practicum experiences each semester and for covering the cost of travel. It is the obligation of students to provide their own vehicle collision and/or bodily injury liability insurance for their personal vehicles. Neither the College of Nursing nor the University of South Carolina is responsible for any vehicle occurrences or transportation.

The Clinical Simulation Lab (CSL) is located on the first floor of the College of Nursing in the Williams-Brice building. This state-of-the-art facility is designed to replicate realistic practice environments where healthcare students develop clinical decision-making skills and enhance technical skill acquisition. Students function within their full scope of practice while receiving real-time feedback and guidance from expert clinical educators. All simulation-based learning experiences adhere to the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning’s (INACSL) Standards of Best Practice: SimulationSM. For more information, please visit CSL.

This protocol applies to all USC Columbia campus employees, student employees and all other USC students who have an exposure to a potentially infectious biological material. A potentially infectious material or biological hazard may include an incident involving a microorganism (e.g. bacterial agent, viral agent, and fungal agent), human-derived material, biological toxin, or an incident involving recombinant DNA research. Exposures through sexual contact are not included in this protocol.

Procedures for needle sticks or other exposure to a potentially infectious material:

  • Report the incident immediately to the supervisor and clinical faculty to authorize medical evaluation.  Supervisors are responsible for ensuring students are offered immediate medical care, appropriate diagnostics and treatment.
    • Percutaneous Exposure (e.g., needle stick, cut, animal bite) – Immediately wash or flush the exposed area with soap and water for 10 minutes.
    • Mucous Membrane Exposure (i.e., eyes, nose or mouth) – Flush the exposed area with water.  If exposure is to the eyes, flush eyes (holding open) using the eyewash station for 10 minutes.
  •  The student or supervisor should immediately notify the appropriate entity within the health care institution where the exposure occurs, in order to initiate testing of the “source patient” for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infection.  It is important for rapid HIV testing to be completed with results available within a few hours. Each institution has its own procedures for obtaining “source patient” testing, and supervising faculty should know these procedures. If there is uncertainty about whom to contact within the host institution, instructions should be obtained from one or more of the following:
    • Employee health office
    • Charge nurse for the floor or unit where the exposure occurred
    • Infection control nurse
    • Administrative officer of the day
    • Clinic director (for outpatient sites)
  •  Once the necessary “source patient” testing has been ordered, seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the incident (see below for specific instructions)
  •  Notify Executive Director of Student Affairs of incident at 803-608-7770 between the hours of 9am-9pm.  Leave a message with return phone number if no answer.  If no response within one hour, call the Office of Academic Affairs at 803-777-7412.
  •  Call CompEndium for non-emergency injuries. In an emergency, visit a local emergency room or call 911.  Follow these five important steps to report your injury:
    • Immediately report the injury to your supervisor. You and your supervisor call CompEndium together at 877-709-2667 to report the injury.
    • Follow CompEndium’s Nurse Case Manager’s instructions for any authorized treatment and further reporting.
    • Complete an Employee Injury Report and have your supervisor complete a Supervisor's Report. Fax both reports to CompEndium at 877-710-2667 and to (803 777-0616, ATTN:  Executive Director of Student Affairs.)
    • If the treating physician does not release you to return to work, be sure to complete the Benefits Election section at the bottom of the Employee Injury Report. Meet with your department HR Contact for an explanation of your options or call the Benefits Office at 803-777-6650 for assistance.
    • Report the injury to CompEndium Services within 10 days of the date of injury.

All exposure incidents in the clinical agencies and the client-simulated laboratory (CSL) shall be reported, investigated, and documented. If an exposure occurs and there is no faculty present, the student must notify faculty and/or the Office of Academic Affairs as soon as possible.

Workers’ Compensation covers the following populations who experience a bloodborne pathogen exposure while working or at clinical if, appropriate reports are filed:

  •  All university employees and apprenticeship students in the Colleges of Education, Exercise Science, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Social Work. 
  • Work study students and graduate assistants who are exposed while on the job.

Students who suffer a Non-Job Related/Non clinical related Blood borne Pathogen Exposure during an enrolled academic session:

  • Should report to the Student Health Services for initial evaluation and referral. If the SHC is closed, students may seek care at the Palmetto Richland Hospital Emergency Department. If away from Columbia area, the student should report to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Evaluation and Review

The ADGS is responsible for annually reviewing this policy and procedures and its effectiveness and for updating the program as needed.

The University of South Carolina, College of Nursing, does not directly pay nor facilitate student payment for student clinical placements in healthcare systems, provider practices or payment to individual preceptors. This includes application fees for such placements.

Preceptors for clinical courses are integral to the student’s clinical learning. The preceptor must have the expertise to support (facilitate) a student’s achievement of course/clinical objectives as listed on the course syllabus and clinical agreement forms. The course faculty approves the preceptors. The preceptor for the course receives the evaluation tool to assess student’s performance, located in the course syllabus. Taking in consideration preceptor evaluation, the course faculty determines the student’s final grade. Preceptor guidelines are found at Nursing Preceptor Handbook.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.