MBAHM Professional Conduct Guidelines and Behavioral Counseling Process



This document is a guide to set expectations, promote, and develop professional behaviors and attitudes during a student’s tenure at Western Governors University (WGU's) Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management program.



Healthcare organizations are managed in a highly-structured, professional, business environment. Students preparing for work in a healthcare environment are expected to know how to function in specific job duties and also interact with others in an ethical, responsible, and respectful manner. Professional behaviors are necessary for success.

Learning how to interact professionally is a skill students can learn through practice. Practicing these behaviors during time spent as a WGU MBA in Healthcare Management student provides them with confidence as they navigate through their career in healthcare management.


Professional Behaviors in the Academic Environment

All WGU students are required to adhere to the Code of Student Conduct as found in the WGU Student Handbook.
The rules and regulations found in the Student Handbook are foundational concepts for developing professional behaviors and attitudes. Suggestions are offered here for developing professional attitudes and are by no means all-inclusive. Students may think of others as they review this list:

  • Be accountable: A professional acts responsibly. Students should maintain their call schedule with their program mentor, or reschedule in advance if circumstances arise. Students should follow through with weekly goals they establish with their mentor. 
  • Be receptive to ideas and feedback: Professionals are always looking for ways to improve their skills. Students should seek the assistance of a course instructors when beginning a course to discuss course content. Course instructors are subject matter experts who are committed to student learning; solicit their ideas for course success. Students should maintain an open attitude when mentors, instructors, or evaluators suggest corrections and revisions to their work. The role of mentors, instructors, and evaluators is one of support, and at times encouragement or direction for students to apply themselves more conscientiously to their work is the support they need to grow. 
  • Have respect for others: Students should treat others as they wish to be treated. Mentors are sounding boards and students should feel free to share their frustrations and discouragement, but use the proper verbal tone and respectful language. Professionals communicate appropriately in email correspondence and phone conversations. They use language free of profanity and focus conversations on academic progress or needs and when using email to correspond, include correct spelling and punctuation. Students should remember that both their phone voice and email communication make a lasting impression. 
  • Seek new experiences/challenges: Professionals go the extra mile and that’s why they are seen in leadership roles. The WGU environment requires students to have self-discipline and stay motivated. Students can continue to grow these qualities by challenging and stretching themselves to learn more in their courses. Students should give their best always. Mediocrity does not bring success in the healthcare management environment. 
  • Be a team player: Students not only work independently, but also have courses that require them to work in teams with other students, as they move through this program. They should engage in conversations in the Communities and participate in information sessions offered by course instructors. Students may be surprised at what they learn from their peers, and networking is a powerful tool in developing their professional skills.

In summary, to grow professional attitudes it takes time. Students should start practicing the behaviors that will set them apart from others. This program prepares students for a variety of skills in management and leadership in a healthcare organization. Successful leaders acknowledge that it took time and dedication to develop the professionalism seen in them today.



Professional Behaviors in the Capstone Experience

The MBA Healthcare Management Program provides for an opportunity to apply the lessons students learned in the simulations and other assessments they have worked on throughout their MBA training, and apply those in a real work environment. This portion of the academic program provides students with exposure to and participation in the healthcare management environment.



Subdomain 981.1 - Capstone

Competency 981.1.1: Capstone -The graduate integrates and synthesizes competencies from across the degree program and thereby demonstrates the ability to participate in and contribute value to the chosen professional field.

When at a worksite, students should treat the experience the same way they would a job. The same professional behaviors apply. In fact, students are not only representing themselves at the worksite, but representing WGU. Their actions will have an effect on future students being invited to a worksite.
The professional behaviors listed below can be applied to the healthcare management worksite:

  • Be accountable: Students should arrive at the worksite 10-15 minutes early to be ready for the workday and receive direction from the their assigned contact. They should show up prepared for the day. If they make a mistake, they should admit it and learn from it. If students say they will help someone with a job task, they need to follow through. If students have been assigned a project with a deadline, they are expected to meet the timeline and project expectations. 
  • Be receptive to ideas and feedback: Students should be interested in the assigned activities at the worksite and participate fully in designated tasks. If they finish early, they should ask to help others, or ask the assigned contact for ideas on what they may work on. Students can learn even from the most mundane tasks, and a good attitude makes a good impression on others. They should be open to suggestions from the assigned contact and other staff who are overseeing their work, even if they have extensive experience in their own working environment, there is always something to be learned at the worksite. Students should be open-minded and accept constructive feedback in the spirit in which it is offered. They should be receptive to different ways of looking at problems or performing tasks. Students should value new experiences and take on new challenges as they are offered to them, with a positive attitude. 
  • Have respect for others: Students should be honest in all their conversations and show a trustworthy attitude. All written and verbal communications should be performed in a way that demonstrates students' responsibility to their role as a student and representative of WGU. They need to dress appropriately and should speak with the assigned contact before their first day, to determine appropriate dress code for the environment. In most organizations, business casual is expected. Students should not wear jeans or casual clothing, should remove any facial piercings, cover any tattoos, and should be punctual at all times. Students must maintain confidentiality of healthcare information always, and never discuss patient information, unless it is directly related to the work at hand. They should always comply with agency policies including policies related to patient confidentiality and HIPAA. 
  • Seek new experiences/challenges: Students should set goals for the worksite and review them with the assigned contact. They are encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and try new experiences, ask questions, and be interested in what is going on. The worksite introduces students to the organizational culture, and no two organizations are alike. Students should take opportunities to meet people, discuss their work, and see how health informatics is used across the organization. 
  • Be a team player: Students should remember when they are at the worksite, they should function like a staff member and support others in their work. A little team spirit goes a long way in making a good impression.

In summary, students should follow the rules, but not be afraid to show initiative and curiosity. Any employer expects a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Even though the capstone experience is unpaid hours, students should treat their time there with the same commitment. They are there to participate in the work environment: if there is downtime, students should ask if they can help others with any work tasks. Doing so is a good way to learn departmental operations. Students should use downtime to review policy manuals (there are always enough of those around), or gather information for the Tasks required for the capstone courses of study.



Behavioral Counseling for Improvement and Support

This document is a guide to set expectations and provide direction. Health Informatics students must exhibit professional behaviors in the academic environment, and this includes all communications with WGU staff and the professional staff at the worksite.
In the event behaviors are demonstrated which do not follow the ideas and guidelines discussed in this document, the MBA Healthcare Management program will follow the same process as WGU Code of Conduct.
Behavioral counseling will be initiated when a student fails to meet the expectations of the WGU Code of Conduct and the professional behaviors outlined here. The progression from verbal to written counseling is based on student conduct and the need to ensure adherence to professional ethics at the worksite, the development of professional behaviors, and accountability.
Support toward student improvement includes a discussion of a performance improvement plan, additional training, support resources accessible to the student, and a time frame for review.
If the offense is of a serious nature, direct referral to the discipline process may be warranted with the approval of the course instructor for MBAHM program and the program faculty manager for College of Business MBA programs.

Steps in Behavioral Counseling

  1. Verbal Counseling
    The first level of behavioral counseling consists of ‘in-time’ verbal discussions of behavioral concerns conducted by the student’s immediate supervisor. The immediate supervisor may be WGU staff member, a student or course instructor, or clinical instructor at the PPE site.

    Verbal counseling discussions focus on minor errors in judgment, unintentional error on the part of the student or the initial instance(s) of performance or communication issues.

  2. Written Counseling
    Written counseling occurs when the initial behavioral issues have not been resolved. Written counseling is initiated by the mentor, instructor, or WGU staff member in consultation with the mentoring program faculty manager and other appropriate staff.
    While continuing to focus on specific student performance improvement and support, written counseling includes an action plan providing written expectations for improvement.

  3. Referral to Student Conduct Board
    If verbal and written counseling do not result in a change in student behavior, the student will be referred for formal disciplinary action. This will be consistent with processes for behavioral guidelines found in the WGU Student Handbook.


Article Number: 20527, 2862

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