7.2 Attendance 7 Absentee Policy – Clinical Phases

Purpose and Scope

The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) expects students to attend, actively participate, and prioritize their academic education and training. UWSOM also recognizes that other academic and personal events occur during clinical training. This policy provides guidance for students, staff, and faculty on student attendance and absences in the clinical phases.

Policy Statement

Students enrolled at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) have entered a professional program and are physicians-in-training. Students are expected to:

  • Attend educational activities to achieve learning objectives and gain experience in the clinical learning environment.
  • Approach absences with the same measure of responsibility that will be required in their future role as physicians.

Students are allowed up to two (2) days of anticipated time away for the following clerkships. Requests will be approved at the discretion of the Clerkship Director:

  • 4-week required clerkship (not including Sub-Internships)
  • 4-week clinical elective clerkship
  • 4-week Advanced Patient Care clerkship (APC)
  • 6-week required clerkship
  • Clerkships greater than 6 weeks

Anticipated absences are discouraged and not guaranteed during:

  • 2-week elective clerkship
  • 3-week required clerkship (WRITE)
  • 4-week Sub-Internship (Sub-I)

Anticipated absences are not permitted during orientation, the final examination, or other required elements of the course or clerkship.

If additional time is needed for chronic health issues and/or appointments, students should contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) to pursue possible accommodations.

At the discretion of the Clerkship Director and on a case-by-case basis, make-up activities may be required to achieve clerkship objectives.

Students are also allowed excused time away for anticipated healthcare (see the Student Access to Anticipated Healthcare Policy).


Attendance: Timely presence in and attention to assigned activity (may be monitored, recorded, and/or assessed for required activities).
Absence: Non-attendance for an assigned activity.
Emergent healthcare: Health services for an unanticipated and/or emergency injury or illness (COVID-19, etc.).
Anticipated healthcareDiagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic health services (dental visits, physical therapy, counseling and psychological services, ongoing care for chronic illness, etc.)
Academic or personal event: Anticipated event, including family events (weddings, reunions, graduations, etc.), conference presentation, etc.
Personal or family emergency: Including but not limited to family member/dependent illness, death, and/or hospitalization.
Anticipated absence: A planned and pre-approved absence:

  • Planned healthcare appointment
  • Academic or personal event

Unanticipated absence: An unplanned absence for which pre-approval was not possible:

  • Emergent healthcare/illness
  • Personal or family emergency
  • Inclement weather

Procedures and Guidelines

Non-Healthcare-Related, Anticipated Absences
Notification Expectations: For non-healthcare-related, anticipated absences, the student must submit an absence request to the appropriate Clerkship Administrator:

  • Religious holidays must be requested within the first two weeks of the course. See the University of Washington Religious Accommodations Policy. Conflicts between religious obligations and patient care obligations are handled on clerkships much as they would be in clinical practice, with patient care responsibilities taking precedence unless coverage has been previously arranged. Departments should make efforts to accommodate students’ religious holidays when possible.
  • Academic or personal events should be requested at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the clerkship. UWSOM recognizes that “once in a lifetime” family events (e.g., weddings, reunions, graduations, etc.) or academic events (e.g., presenting a paper at a conference) occur during medical training. Although departments should make efforts to accommodate personal or academic events when possible, these requests will be approved at the discretion of the Clerkship Director.
  • Students are required to schedule a four-week block for residency interviews. Every effort should be made to schedule residency interviews during that time. It is at the discretion of the Clerkship Director if a student can attend an accepted interview offer during a scheduled clerkship.
  • If a student does not Match into a residency program and participates in the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) to secure a residency position, they are immediately excused from clerkship duties. Student Affairs will contact the Clerkship Director and Administrator who will notify the clerkship site. Prior to returning to the clerkship after participating in SOAP, students should contact the Clerkship Director and Administrator to discuss their return. Make-up activities or time may be required, especially for two-week electives.
  • All graduating students are excused from clinical duties and permitted to attend the Match Day celebration, beginning at 8AM until the next morning (variable start time depending on the clerkship). If travel from the WWAMI region is required, students should work directly with the Clerkship Director and Administrator to request additional time.
  • If an USMLE or OSCE examination is scheduled during a clerkship, students should contact the Clerkship Director and Administrator as soon as possible. Students will be given time away from clinical duties on the day of the exam and the night prior to the exam starting at 6PM. If significant travel is required, students will be given additional time the day prior to the exam.

Unanticipated Absences
Notification Expectations: For unanticipated absences, the student must notify the appropriate Clerkship Director, Clerkship Administrator, Site Director, and Attending/Resident in charge as soon as the circumstances reasonably allow:

  • Emergent healthcare / illness
  • Personal or family emergency
  • Inclement weather

The student should receive a response acknowledging the absence (direct conversation, return e-mail, or phone call) from the Site Director and/or the Attending/Resident in charge. If a student does not receive a response from their team, they should escalate to the Clerkship Director. If they do not receive a response from the Clerkship Director, they should escalate to Student Affairs leadership (see the Student Affairs’ contact page).

Related Policies

Academic Requirements Policy
Attendance & Absentee Policy – Foundations Phases
Student Access to Anticipated Healthcare Policy
Exam Postponement Policy
Clerkship Scheduling Policy
Student Work Hours Policy
USMLE Step 1 Examination Policy
Academic Grading Policy
UW Religious Accommodations Policy

Related Student Information & Resources

Department Clerkship Contacts
Disability Resources for Students (DRS)
Clerkship Policy Videos