Doctoring Absence Policy

Required Clerkships, Clinical Medicine Doctoring [CMD], and Doctoring Electives

The purpose of this policy is to inform students how to navigate schedule requests, unexpected absences, and avoid unapproved absences during their Doctoring year. Faculty aim to ensure high quality learning experiences with the least amount of disruption while supporting students in their personal and professional development. The clerkship director, elective director, and CMD module director (referred to as “director” for the rest of this document) individually handle pre-approved absences and schedule requests.

  • Requests received 30 days prior to THE START of the clerkship and meeting the criteria outlined below can be most effectively approved and accommodated within their schedule.
  • Requests received less than 30 days prior to the START of the clerkship and meeting the criteria below, will require review by the director to assess whether it can be accommodated within their schedule.

All absences, pre-approved or unexpected, count towards the maximum allowed for the entire academic year. If a student exceeds the allowed time per year or per clerkship/elective/CMD, the student will need to work with the director to determine make up clinical time available or alternative learning activities to be completed. Maximum absences:

  • 7 days total for the academic year including
    • 2 days within a 6-week clerkship/elective
    • 1 day within a 4-week clerkship/elective
    • 1 day within a 2-week clerkship/elective
    • 2 sessions within CMD
  • The following days are considered off limits for absence requests:
    • Orientation day
    • Day prior to CCSE Exam
    • Day of CCSE Exam
    • Any other Clerkship Testing days
    • Clinical Day prior to vacation/holiday
    • Clinical Day after vacation/holiday
    • Last clinical day of clerkship/CMD
    • Match Day

Students may take absences in increments of half-days (morning or afternoon) or full days. When a student misses a Friday, the student will need to work with both the clerkship/elective director for half day in the clinical morning and with the CMD module director for 1 session of CMD in the afternoon. This would count as 1 day towards the 7 allotted total for the academic year. 


As members of the health care team, clinical students are not guaranteed time off for holidays. Students are allotted time off for Thanksgiving. Clinical students have a winter break which includes Christmas and New Year’s. For other official holidays, clinical students should follow the holiday schedule of their assigned clinical site unless specifically instructed otherwise by their clerkship/elective director.

Observation of religious holidays should be requested utilizing the same manner and timeline as other types of absences. These absences will not count towards a student’s pool of absences. Please refer to the BSOM Religious Observance Policy for additional information.

Personal Health Appointments

  • Routine physical and mental health appointments are a key component to maintaining wellness and fitness for duty. Students are encouraged to schedule such visits as late in the day as possible to minimize disruption in their clinical duties.  
  • Students are encouraged to reach out ahead of time, when possible, to seek guidance from clerkship coordinators / directors on overall scheduling specifics unique to their clerkship to assist students in finding appropriate times for needed appointments.  
  • Directors / coordinators need to be informed of such schedule adjustments ahead of time, and when requiring 2 hours or less of time away from clinical duties, personal health appointments will not be included in the allotted absences.  This is dependent on the student maintaining clear, prompt and professional communication with the clerkship coordinator and director.
  • Students should avoid scheduling repeat appointments on Fridays due to the split clinical and academic components of that day.

Unexpected Absences

Absences from clerkship/elective or CMD due to illness or family emergencies should be handled directly with the director and coordinator depending on the situation and days needed.  In the event of an unexpected absence such as an illness, students are responsible for notifying their preceptor and the specific clerkship office immediately. Absence form submission can be completed once student is feeling well enough to document and submit.

A student who cannot take an examination, complete an assignment, or attend a required clinical responsibility because of illness or exceptional circumstances, must present the reason, with supporting documentation, to the director:

  • If the absence is health-related and more than the allotted days, students should obtain a written statement from their physician.
  • If the absence is more than the allotted days for other reason besides health-related, the student should meet to discuss the situation with the director.

Students are required to arrange for a makeup of the missed examination or activity as soon as possible at the discretion of the director. In instances of an extended delay, students may be required to drop the remainder of the clerkship or elective and reschedule for a future rotation. Clerkships and Electives are rescheduled on the basis of availability.

Policy for Virtual Teaching & Learning Activities

In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all teaching & learning activities took place virtually, making remote participation possible when sessions were moved back to in-person. Since the majority of teaching and learning strategies employed by BSOM are engaged learning activities, where much of the learning occurs through peer engagement, participating virtually results in a decrease in peer engagement and a sub-optimal classroom and learning experience. Because of this, we are requiring that students participate in-person unless there is an extenuating medical circumstance. We strongly encourage students who are ill to use an absence and focus on resting; faculty can help review content missed when students are feeling better.

Occasionally, clerkships may choose to have remote didactics for the entire clerkship group. In these circumstances, all students must follow the established clerkship virtual learning guidelines.

Rural students: Students who are at a site greater than 45 minutes from the didactic location may engage in remote learning activities for both clerkship and CMD. These activities are designed by the director and are comparable, but may not be identical, to in person learning.

Students that wish to participate virtually due to an extenuating medical circumstance must contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions. The Department of Medical Education will be notified of students who are granted virtual participation.

  • For CMD, students will be given access to the virtual learning format to listen to the questions, but will not be allowed to “click in”. Final points total will be adjusted to exclude these missed activities.
  • For all other sessions, students should contact their director(s) to determine ability to participate virtually or not. Although faculty will do their best to accommodate students with extenuating medical circumstances, not all sessions have the ability for virtual participation.

Schedule Requests

Exact site assignments and call schedules may not be confirmed until the first day of the rotation.  However, clerkship coordinators can communicate with students ahead of time to review overall schedule options for students who have specific scheduling questions. 

  • Students are encouraged to plan ahead and communicate with directors and coordinators. Questions regarding call schedules/shift assignments can be addressed ahead of time when students have pre-scheduled life and/or professional events needing protected “off duty” time outside of the scheduled 4 weeks of vacation.  
  • If the student is requesting “off duty” time away from core clerkship/elective duties and there is no alternative schedule available, an absence can be approved and recorded.  
  • If the student is seeking protected “off duty” time (for example on a weekend or a night call shift) and the director and/or coordinator can find an alternative schedule that allows for this “off duty” time, it will not be recorded as an absence. 

Students attending a professional conference as an officer, BSOM AAMC representative, or to present scholarly work must follow submission protocol as outlined above and provide the director with appropriate supporting documentation for an excused absence to be considered and approved. These absences do count towards the total allotted per academic year.

Students who are BSOM committee members should alert their director, coordinator, and clinical preceptors about upcoming scheduled meetings to ensure and verify attendance approval.  Attendance will not be counted toward absence when appropriate communication has been followed. DME/OSAA can provide verification of committee duties and dates upon request.

Students who are elected officers for national student organizations will meet with the Office of Student Affairs and Admissions at the beginning of their term to discuss and verify any mandatory meetings. Clerkship/elective directors will be notified in writing of any dates that are not to be counted against the student’s allowable absence days. Any subsequent meeting attendance that falls outside of these initial agreements, if excused, will be counted against their pool of allowed absences.

Students are required to arrange for makeup of any missed examination or activity as soon as possible at the discretion of the director.

Unexcused Absences

An unexcused absence is seen as a lapse of professionalism and may be noted in the course student evaluation and/or the narrative summary for the MSPE. Students missing graded activities due to an unexcused absence could result in a grade of zero without the options for make-up of that activity. 

Revised and approved by Doctoring Subcommittee on 5/18/2021

Updated by Biennium II/Doctoring FCC Subcommittee 3/29/19.
Updated and approved by FCC on May 25, 2022

Updated and approved by FCC on July 27, 2022

Last edited on 08/02/2022.