Attendance & Absentee Policy

Policy Statement
As part of professional development as physicians-in-training, students are expected to make the medical school schedule their highest priority. We expect all students to contribute to group learning and participate in problem solving. Preparation prior to class and active participation during class are critical not only to each individual’s success, but to the success of one’s fellow students. Ultimately, active participation in groups will better prepare all students for their work in clinical settings.

The UWSOM expects students to attend and actively participate in all blocks and courses. Participation is part of the grade in many blocks. Sessions that are mandatory will be marked as “attendance required” in the curriculum management system, Elentra. Students are required to attend:

  • Labs
  • Sessions where patients are present
  • Small group sessions
  • Other sessions at the discretion of the block, thread or theme leader, or the local Foundations Dean

Foundations coursework takes priority over elective coursework.  You must not sign up for non-clinical electives, preceptorships or shadowing experiences which conflict with your Foundations classes and/or Foundations of Clinical Medicine, Hospital tutorials, and Primary Care Practicum (PCP).

Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines

Students must be present for scheduled examinations (including anatomy pin tests) except in the event of personal illness or personal/family emergencies. Permission must be granted for rescheduling an exam.  The student must contact the Foundations Dean (In Seattle: Assistant Dean for Student Support and to reschedule an examination.  Students must not schedule make-up exams during any scheduled curricular activity, and it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that exams are not in conflict with a scheduled activity.  The block/course director and/or block/course site leader cannot provide permission for an exam reschedule.

Examinations cannot be rescheduled or moved to a different foundation campus for personal events or research presentations.

Attendance in Foundations of Clinical Medicine (FCM), Primary Care Practicum (PCP) & Hospital Tutorials
Attendance is required for all FCM activities.  If you are ill or have an emergency and are unable to attend a session, please contact the appropriate people as soon as possible.

Curricular Component Who do I ask for permission?
Orientation & FCM: Immersion Foundations Dean & FCM course director(s) at your Foundations site
FCM: Clinical Skills Workshops FCM course director(s) at your Foundations site
FCM: Primary Care Practicum PCP director at your site and your PCP faculty
FCM: Hospital Tutorials Your College mentor/hospital tutorial faculty
Foundations Block, Thread & Courses Foundations Dean at your Foundations site

Students unable to attend a session must complete assigned makeup activities. Failure to communicate about an absence will result in a Notice of Concern (NOC).  Absences due to personal events and research presentations will not be excused.

Policy Statement
Students are expected to attend everyday of scheduled clerkships, which can include overnight call and weekends.

Students are expected to adhere to the policy guidelines developed by the clerkship directors related to attendance, the approval process for excused absences, and consequences of unexcused absences.

Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines
Personal events (such as weddings) and academic events (such as presenting papers at meetings) should be anticipated prior to scheduling a clerkship or clinical elective and factored into breaks or elective time off. There are no vacation days during clerkships.

Potential Consequences of Absences

  • Students should consider that time away from the clerkship may adversely affect their grade. For example, preceptors may have fewer days in which to evaluate work or there may not be enough time for students to receive feedback and improve your skills.
  • Possible make-up time might be needed for unanticipated absences, resulting in grades being delayed or students may receive an “incomplete” until the time is made up.
  • If students are absent without permission, they may receive a Fail grade and may be required to repeat the clerkship. In addition, students will receive a professionalism concern on the final evaluation.

Anticipated Absences

  • Students are allowed up to 2 days of anticipated excused time away from the learning environment in 4 to 12-week clerkships.
  • Absences are not permitted during orientation, the final examination or other required elements of the clerkship (please review the individual clerkship website for the list of required elements).
  • No anticipated time off is permitted during two-week elective clerkships and four-week sub-internships.
  • To request time off, students should consult with the appropriate clerkship director/administrator at least 6 weeks prior to the beginning of the clerkship to limit the negative impact on the clerkship experience.

Personal Events
Personal event examples include weddings, graduations, presenting papers at conferences, receiving awards, and necessary health care appointments. If any days off for significant personal events are requested during a clerkship, students must consult with the clerkship director/administrator at least 6 weeks prior to the beginning of the clerkship, before making travel arrangements, as it is not always possible to grant these requests.

National or Religious Holidays
Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy.

Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

In order to plan accommodations that will avoid possible delays in course/clerkship end dates, UW SOM recommends students complete the Religious Accommodation Request Form in advance of the start date of their course or clerkship.

As a member of a health care team during a clerkship, there is no guaranteed time off for University of Washington holidays, traditional observances, or major days of religious significance, just as there won’t be when you are a practicing physician. You are expected to follow the holiday practice of the clinic/hospital/site at which you are rotating. Meaning, if it is a holiday at your site, you may get the day off. If it is a working day for your site, you must show up. Clinical responsibilities such as night call and rounding take precedence over holiday schedules. To plan ahead for national holidays, you may wish to call the clerkship administrator or practice site in advance and inquire.

You are encouraged to work together with faculty to accommodate scheduling constraints in observing your religious and cultural practices. Similar to when you are in practice, you must take responsibility and plan ahead. If you have religious holidays that require you to miss or modify work, consult with the clerkship director/administrator well in advance to see what accommodations can be made.

Residency Interviews
Students are required to schedule off at least 4 weeks for residency interviews and every effort should be made to schedule interviews during that time. If residency interviews are offered when students are already scheduled for clerkships, they should work directly with the clerkship director/administrator immediately to see what accommodations can and can’t be made.

Match Day
All graduating students are permitted to attend the Match Day celebration with no clerkship responsibility starting at 8AM on Match Day until the next morning (variable start time depending on the clerkship). If students are on a WWAMI clerkship, additional travel time the day prior to the celebration may also be needed.

USMLE and OSCE Examinations
If you have a USMLE or OSCE examination scheduled during a clerkship, please let the clerkship director/administrator know as soon as possible. You 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 you need to travel a significant distance for the exam, you will be given all or part of the day prior to the exam away from clinical activities in order to travel.

Unanticipated Absences

  • In case of an illness, personal emergency or personal healthcare appointments, students must directly contact the team they are working with as early as possible.

Illness, Personal Emergency or Urgent Health Care Appointments
If students miss any days, they must speak with the site director as well as the attending or resident in charge prior to the start of the shift. It is unacceptable to leave a phone or email message or to contact only administrative staff. Students should receive confirmation (direct conversation, return email, or phone call) from the site director and/or the attending/resident in charge indicating that the team is aware of the absence. Specific contact information is available on the individual clerkship websites. If more than two days off are needed for chronic health issues and/or appointments, students should contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) to pursue possible accommodations.

For any time away from the clerkship, students are also required to tell the clerkship director/administrator who will determine if make-up time is needed for unanticipated absences or if the entire clerkship needs to be rescheduled. Grades may be delayed, or you may receive an “incomplete” until the time is made up.

An absence for the purpose of seeking treatment for a suspected infectious or occupational exposure (including needle stick injury) will be accommodated as an unanticipated medical absence.

Inclement Weather
The inclement weather policy for clerkships matches the policy for holidays. If your team is working in the hospital or the clinic is open, you are expected to show up. If you are unable to access the hospital/clinic due to hazardous travel, you must notify your team as described above under “unanticipated absences.”

Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP)
In the event that a student does not Match and are participating in SOAP to secure a residency position, they are immediately excused from clerkship duties. Student Affairs will contact the clerkship director/administrator who will notify your site. Prior to returning to the clerkship after SOAPing, contact the clerkship director/administrator to discuss your return and the impact of days missed. Make-up time may be needed especially for 2-week electives.

Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) or WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE) Clerkship Absences
LIC and WRITE clerkship students will follow the same rules as listed above with the following modifications:

Anticipated Absences

  • Significant personal events are described above under “anticipated absences.” Because of the different scheduling model for LIC/WRITE, this policy allows for up to 1 day away from the learning environment every 12-weeks of the clerkship.
  • Absence requests should be directed to the LIC/WRITE program director(s).
  • The requested dates need to follow the General Absentee Policy.

Unanticipated Absences

  • For any time away from the clerkship, you are required to tell the LIC/WRITE program director(s) who will determine, in consultation with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and the affected clerkship directors, if make-up time is needed.

Find helpful videos for clerkship policies here (under Clerkship Policies).


Effective: Current
Last updated: March 28, 2022
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Curriculum Office,; Education Quality Improvement Office,