Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinical Student Handbook

Professional Clinical Expectations

Interns and Observers entering into the clinical portion of their training become part of the clinical team and therefore must meet certain professional expectations in order to practice in the ACM clinical settings. The following standards will be strictly enforced to ensure compliance with departmental standards and to promote a professional, patient friendly environment.

Professional Appearance / Clinical Dress Code:

Student observers and clinical interns represent the University and their appearance and conduct need to reflect professional standards of a health care environment. In any NWHSU onsite of offsite clinic venue an observer or intern is expected to maintain professional appearance and comply with the following dress code guidelines. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action.

All Interns (Male and Female):

  • A nametag must be worn at all times
  • All clothing must be well pressed and clean
  • Long hair must be tied back
  • Hair should be well groomed and clean.
  • Hands must be kept clean; Fingernails must be short, smooth and clean
  • Closed toed shoes must be worn; no outdoor clothing or footwear including snow boots, rain boots, or water shoes.

For Male Interns (Minimum Requirements):

  • Dress Shirt – collared shirts
  • Dress Slacks

For Female Interns (The following are appropriate clinical attire):

  • Dress slacks
  • Dresses or Skirts (must fall at or below the acupoint Gallbladder 33.)
  • Suits

Unacceptable Clinical Attire:

  • No perfumes, colognes, or scented oils
  • Denim pants of any color
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts / Tank tops
  • Open toed shoes
  • Hats
  • Tight Pants
  • Skirts above the acupoint Gallbladder 33
  • Tube Tops / Halter Tops / Corsets
  • No exposed midriffs or bare backs
  • Workout or gym attire including yoga pants, jogging suits, tennis shoes, etc…
  • See-through or sheer material
  • More than one Facial piercing / more than three ear piercings (each ear)
  • Exposed tattoos
  • Excessive, bulky, long, dangling or cumbersome jewelry; long scarves
  • Multiple rings (see CNT standards)
  • For women: No blouses or tops that reveal breast cleavage when standing or bending over.

Guidelines on Piercings, Tattoos and Body Modifications:

ACM Clinical interns represent the university not only in our campus clinics, but also at our numerous off-site clinical opportunities. In order to maintain professional appearance, the following guidelines will be enforced. Students unwilling to comply will not be allowed to participate in their clinical internships.


Students may have up to 3 piercings per ear and 1 facial piercing. The following facial piercings will not be acceptable in clinic and must be removed for each shift:

Bridge (Nasal)

Septum (Nasal)




All tattoos must be covered during the clinical shift, which can often be accomplished with clothing. In the case of facial / neck tattoos the intern is responsible for concealing the tattoos during their clinical shifts. Supervisors may address tattoos on a case-by-case basis but discretion for patient comfort should always be paramount.

Body Modifications:

Because some forms of body modification, including scarification, are permanent, the ACM Clinical Education Chair and the Clinical Affairs Committee (CAC) will address this on a case-by- case basis.

Guidelines on Hairstyles and Hair Color:

As stated above, all long hair must be pulled back during clinical shifts. This includes multiple braids and dread-locks.

Although hair color modification is acceptable, it must appear professional as determined by the Clinical Affairs Committee.

An intern may not have the majority of their hair colored in a color that is not naturally occurring, these include bright reds, blue, green, purple, orange etc. Minimal highlights or minimal streaks of these colors may be acceptable on a case-by-case basis.

Culturally Specific and Religious Obligated Attire

ACM will make every effort to honor specific cultural or religious attire in so far as it does not interfere with patient care, safety, Clean Needle Technique (CNT) or create a disruptive clinical environment.

Professional Demeanor:

All interns will behave in a manner that is consistent with a professional healthcare setting. Patient care is a priority in our teaching clinics, and the clinical intern must conduct himself or herself in a professional and polite manner at all times while present in the clinic.

Interns are expected to remain in their respective clinic until their final patient is out the door or the shift is over, whichever is later. Patients occasionally have questions to ask about treatment, or post-treatment feelings; students and supervisors need to be available for follow-up conversation as a professional and educational opportunity.

Food in the Clinic:

Due to the risk of contamination, unpleasant odors and general safety, food is not allowed in certain areas of onsite or offsite clinic including: treatment rooms, patient waiting / common areas and the herbal dispensary.

In order to meet the needs of students, food may be consumed in the conference rooms of NHCB and UHS. Any food or beverage with a strong odor is prohibited from being consumed anywhere in the clinic. Students may bring a beverage in a sealable container to their clinic shifts. An intern shall not bring any personal beverages into the treatment room. Food is not allowed in any area of the herbal dispensary.

Failure to comply may lead to disciplinary action.

Failure to comply with Clinical Expectations:

A practitioner, clinic staff or clinical supervisor may ask an intern who does not meet ethical standards or professional clinic expectations, including the dress code, will be asked to immediately leave the teaching clinic. Clinical supervisors may allow the intern 10 – 15 minutes to attempt to rectify any dress code violation.

If the intern is unable or unwilling to comply with the standards or expectations, including dress code, they will be required to leave the clinic. Credit will not be given for the hours missed and the student is responsible for rescheduling make up hours.

NWHSU Clinical Education program has partnerships with offsite clinical venues not under the governance of NWHSU. All University clinic policies and procedures are applicable to all off-site venues. Any exception is noted in the site-specific Operations Manual. Observers and interns who have rotations at these clinical sites are expected to meet and comply with all the host organizations dress code requirements including use of lab coats.

Disciplinary Actions:

All NWHSU interns are expected to act in a manner that fosters the University's primary functions of teaching, research, and public service. Conduct that violates the established policies and procedures of the University will be dealt with as described in the Student Handbook. The following actions constitute conduct for which interns are subject to disciplinary sanctions:

  • Unexcused tardiness. Two instances of unexcused tardiness will be equal to one unexcused absence.
  • Unexcused absence. Two unexcused absences are grounds for suspension.
  • Inappropriate attire. Students will not be given credit for clinic hours if inappropriately dressed.
  • Disregard for clean needle guidelines as described by the Clean Needle Technique Course constitutes grounds for disciplinary action.
  • Illegible charting (hard copies) or incomplete charting(electronic)
  • Inappropriate use of clinic internship time, including personal calls or conversations, non- clinic related studying and internet use.
  • HIPAA compromise
  • Any level of gross negligence in patient care and management, includes, but is not limited to, needling without approval from supervisor; non-removal of needles, or bodily injury that results from negligence constitutes grounds for suspension.
  • Disregard for established clinic protocols and incident reports as stated in this manual or in circulated memos, especially regarding issues where public safety and/ or NWHSU liability is involved constitutes grounds for suspension.
  • Failure to properly dispose of needles / CNT compromise – more than two overall, per term
  • Unprofessional interaction with a patient, supervisor, staff member or fellow student
  • Changing the treatment approved by a supervisor
  • Failure to have supervisor visually inspect needle placement while patient is under treatment.
  • Negligent moxibustion, guasha, TDP lamp, electrical stimulation, or cupping techniques

The system of warnings is as follows and is applicable for all shifts in one term.

  • Verbal warnings which will be documented by supervisor via email to Chair of Clinical Education. Two verbal warnings total – no matter the number of shifts, this is a cumulative total per term – will result in mandatory meeting with the Chair of Clinical Education and depending on the situation, further disciplinary action.
  • Written warning is provided only once in a term regardless of the number of intern shifts that term.
  • Failure to comply after written warning will result in suspension of intern shift for remainder of the term.

Appeals and disciplinary processes are followed as described in the NWHSU Student Handbook.