Clinical Placement FAQ

Clinical Placements COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ 

Western students pursuing degrees or certificates in health fields must meet college and clinical location requirements as outlined in program descriptions, including physical fitness examinations, immunizations and knowledge of CPR.  These requirements are based on best practices, student health and clinical demands.   

Western recognizes some students feel conflicted about the COVID-19 vaccine and we have prepared this FAQ to help students understand how their choices regarding the vaccine may affect their studies.  We urge all students, especially those students with vaccine hesitancy to base their decisions on information from peer reviewed research from established medical and public health sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) also provides guidance to Nursing education programs with regards to student vaccination status and providing clinical experiences.  

No. Western understands immunizations are a personal choice and the college cannot force anyone to receive an immunization.  However, clinical sites may mandate vaccines and Western must abide by the policies of each specific clinical location.  Ultimately, the choice to receive the COVID vaccine (or any other vaccine) is yours, but your vaccination status may have an impact on your ability to complete your program requirements.   

Each clinical agency sets its own requirements for employees and affiliated learners, such as nursing students.  Currently, Western has no COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students.   

Currently, all major clinical partner sites in Western’s service area require COVID-19 vaccines.  Not all agencies have released their vaccine and/or exemption policy.  Refer to specific clinical sites to view their COVID vaccination policy.

The Cooperative Education Agreements between Western’s health programs and our clinical partner agencies detail the terms under which each site will provide on-site educational experiences. These agreements account for regulatory requirements, accreditation expectations, and other guidelines, and the sites have been approved as meeting specific educational and clinical regulations. These agreements include provisions requiring students to adhere to agency policies relevant to their clinical experiences. Clinical partner policy is not under Western’s remit nor can Western determine clinical site policies.   

No. Right now only students in courses with clinical requirements (nursing, CNA and phlebotomy) must show proof of vaccination. 

No, not if your program has no clinical requirements.  This may be subject to change as new requirements are released. 

Yes, to meet clinical requirements you must show proof of vaccination.   

If you are in a course with a clinical component, you must meet the guidelines of the specific clinical site.  Students who don't meet vaccine requirements will not be able to participate in the clinical rotation and will not meet program objectives.  Consequences for not meeting clinical objectives are covered in your student handbook. 

Western does not determine exemptions. Each clinical partner will determine its own process for reviewing and accepting requests for exemptions. The School of Health Sciences can provide you with contact information for this process. The length of time the entity takes to make a determination about your request should be taken into account, as it may cause a delay in the start of your clinical rotation. Note that there is not a guarantee that a request for exemption will be granted. A review of exemption requests nationally indicates that a very low rate of exemptions are being issued. 

Each clinical partner has created an exemption process and students may request an exemption. However, if the agency denies the exemption, the student should explore other options available based on their educational progress and circumstances, such as receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, locating another program which to transfer, or another career choice.  Please discuss possible medical exemptions with your health care provider.      

Each clinical partner will determine its own process for accepting requests for exemptions. The School of Health Sciences can provide you with contact information for this process. The length of time the entity takes to make a determination about your request should be taken into account, as it may cause a delay in the start of your clinical rotation. Note that a request for exemption is not a guarantee that it will be granted.  

Placement at clinical sites is based on several factors including student location, academic requirements, partner site teaching capabilities and student volume.  Western cannot and will not shop placement sites for non-vaccinated students. Currently, all primary clinical sites require COVID-19 vaccinations. 

In order to engage at a clinical placement site, you must meet that site’s requirements related to vaccination. Students are responsible for learning about and adhering to their placement site’s requirements, which may differ from current requirements. While not currently a Western  requirement, students are encouraged to receive the vaccine or seek an exemption from the placement site, if available, as early as possible to avoid potential delays in placement. If you do not have a COVID-19 vaccination and do not plan to get one, starting or continuing a program now does not imply an exemption in the future.   

  1. Nursing students must submit vaccine record to CastleBranch.
  2. CNA students must submit proof of vaccination to course instructor. 
  3. Phlebotomy students must submit proof of vaccination to course instructor. 

Proof of vaccination generally should include the person’s name, the type of vaccine administered, the date(s) of administration, and the name of the healthcare professional(s) or clinic site(s) that administered the vaccine.  

  1. Get the vaccines necessary to meet requirements. 
  2. Withdraw from your course of study—Academic Advising in Mustang Central can help you find new opportunities at Western. 

Consequences of not meeting program standards such as your grades and academic progress will be based on policy found in your program student handbook.   

Refunds and grades are based on Western policies found in your student handbook.  Not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or exemption is not grounds for special circumstances.    

The terms and conditions placed on all financial aid you are receiving will govern how those benefits are managed if you leave your current program or change your course of study.  

Any courses with a clinical component are subject to COVID vaccination requirements.

Please keep in mind that this may change and vaccination status cannot be grandfathered for starting or continuing students.  You may also find that employers require COVID vaccination, limiting your employment options after program completion.   

We understand this is a difficult decision for many people.  We suggest speaking to your health care provider, Western faculty and other people you trust.  Ultimately, you need to decide what is best for you in your particular situation.