Pregnancy & parenting FAQs

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, be sure to check out these resources:

  • The “UWSOM Resources for Pregnant and Parenting Students” brochure (coming soon!).
  • Check out past “Maybe a Baby” panels at the bottom of the Pregnancy page. Students, their partners, and others offer advice on a multitude of important issues to consider with regards to being pregnant and parenting during medical training.
  • Consult the UWSOM Counseling and Wellness Services or the dean’s office.
  • Additional resources are listed on our Pregnancy & Parenting Resources page, including a list of resources compiled for each WWAMI state and clerkship city within.

The UWSOM is here to help you with your next steps. These should include:

  • Discussing personal and curricular plans with your Foundations dean.
  • Exploring childcare options and other forms of support.
  • Connecting with Disability Resources for Students (DRS) to discuss any necessary accommodations with classes/clerkships if your pregnancy involves some medical complications that impact one or more of your major life functions.

There are “better” windows in terms of timing, but the UWSOM will be supportive regardless of when a pregnancy occurs. Pregnancy may require flexibility in your plans and even curricular expansion. Some things to consider include the timing of Step 1 and Step 2, as well as financial considerations.

Meeting with DRS early in your pregnancy facilitates implementation of necessary accommodations for complications or extenuating circumstances. You may also take a leave of absence.

We are a regional medical school with a regional focus on training opportunities. Every student is required to complete 8 weeks in Seattle and is expected to spend 24 weeks at WWAMI sites. However, students are free to trade clerkships with other students to increase their time in one location. If you are unable to travel, you should reach out to DRS.

There are processes to minimize travel given extenuating circumstances, and pregnancy and breastfeeding fall into this category. To optimize time in one location, students can apply to the WWAMI Track program, which includes the Greater Seattle Option (GSO), the WWAMI Rural Integrated Training Experience (WRITE), or the Olympia Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC). Students should indicate in the clerkship scheduling survey their reasons for requesting time in one site beyond 24 weeks. DRS may require a student to be accommodated in one location for a longer duration, but otherwise, requests are met based on clerkship availability and capacity. Students can also consider expanding their fourth year or taking “lighter” electives.

Sites are assigned by individual clerkship departments. You are encouraged to contact the clerkship coordinator as soon as you receive your assignment to ask for any possible changes. While we understand that some sites are located farther away and appreciate that a longer commute requires extra effort on the student’s part, commute time cannot be factored into clerkship duty hours.

Some clerkships require that students take call, and unfortunately, we cannot make restrictions about work hours other than those detailed in the UWSOM Student Hours policy linked here. However, all students on call should always be provided with a call room. In the event there is no call room available, students will be excused from call.

We encourage you to check with the clerkship administrators in advance of your clerkship start date to determine whether there are other scheduling options available to optimize your training in a manner that best meets your needs; however, there is no guarantee of accommodation other than that dictated by DRS and your physician. Students may want to consider a leave of absence. Students will always be supported should they choose this option, and can return when they feel they are able to fully engage in and take advantage of their educational experience.

Students will be given, at a minimum, 30-minute breaks every 3 hours for restroom needs, or as otherwise mandated by DRS. Only DRS, in conjunction with your physician, can dictate food breaks at specific intervals. Otherwise, we suggest that you carry a stash of convenient snacks such as granola bars, fruit, juice, etc.

Lactation is supported through the first year of the child’s life, which is the American Academy of Pediatrics’ minimum recommendation. If their schedule makes it feasible, students may take a leave of absence if they choose to extend breastfeeding beyond 1 year. Students will be given, at a minimum, 30-minute breaks every 3 hours for breastfeeding, or as otherwise mandated by DRS, to maintain milk supply and prevent discomfort. Students should work directly with their faculty to arrange lactation breaks. When a student who is breastfeeding must take a timed exam, breaks for nursing should be allowed. Furthermore, the total time of the exam should be appropriately adjusted, in correlation to the breaks taken, to afford the student the full time allotted to all students for the exam. Breastfeeding students are still required to adhere to testing environment requirements.

Lactation support at each campus is as follows:

Foundations Locations

Clerkships are responsible for providing accommodations as lactation falls under Title IX expectations. Lactation room amenities vary; however, you should have access to a lockable private room that contains a chair and table. You should not have to pump in a bathroom. Notify the site director if accommodations are not adequate. You can also reach out to Melinda Frank, Director of the Learning Environment, or Dr. Gerald Tolbert, Interim Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Breastfeeding students should be afforded regular breaks, at least every three hours.

You should never feel alone in navigating clerkships. You should also not have to feel that your grade will be impacted by speaking up. If you feel you aren’t being properly supported, contact Melinda Frank, Director of the Learning Environment, or Dr. Gerald Tolbert, Interim Associate Dean for Student Affairs, immediately.

Students should inform their clerkships ahead of time about their pregnancy or the fact that they have small children and ask to be given the schedule as soon as it is available. We encourage clerkships to release the schedule as soon as possible; however, the amount of notice you will be given varies and can be minimal. Like any planned absence from a clerkship, students should communicate in advance any planned doctor visits, any DRS accommodations, and partner absences.

If you have extenuating circumstances that make the clerkship schedule unfeasible but you have already missed the 6-week drop deadline, contact Dr. Gerald Tolbert, Interim Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

Housing for students is provided by the individual clerkship departments, and the housing provided may range from single units to larger units accommodating multiple students. Some sites don’t have family-friendly housing. The registrar’s office does not have information about the type of housing at each location. To determine if a particular site is suitable for your needs, contact the clerkship coordinator, ideally prior to clerkship scheduling season, to determine if that clerkship site can accommodate a family. The UWSOM does not reimburse students for private housing.

We suggest you research your options as soon as you become pregnant or, if you are planning for pregnancy, even prior. Many childcare centers have very long waiting lists, so the earlier the better.

Well childcare and childcare assistance

  • WA – Seattle:

    Student parents at the UW can find the resources they need to support the successful completion of their degree, including general UW childcare and parenting resources listed here. The UW Childcare Assistance Program (formerly known as the Student Parent Resource Center) is designed to assist UW Seattle campus students in covering the costs of licensed childcare for their children (ages birth – 12 years old) while enrolled in an eligible program of study to reduce the second primary barrier to attaining a higher education. This award is funded by Student & Activity fees paid by students attending the Seattle Campus. To apply for Childcare Assistance, please visit the Application Process web page. If you need help finding a childcare provider, please click here. For additional information, please visit UW Childcare Assistance Resources, email, or phone 206.543.1041.

On-site childcare at UW:

UW Children’s Centers serve faculty, staff, and students by providing year-round, on-site infant, toddler, and preschool childcare at four Seattle campus locations. The Children’s Centers at West Campus and Portage Bay serve primarily UW faculty and staff. The Children’s Centers at Radford Court and Laurel Village give some priority to UW students in family housing. Enrollment priority and tuition cost vary for each location, and you must put your name in the wait pool before enrolling; the average wait time for space is 2-3 years.

Off-site childcare for UW students:

UW students are eligible for priority access for off-site childcare at all Bright Horizons centers and select KinderCare centers on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority access does not guarantee placement, but it will move you up their wait pool as a UW priority.

  • WA – Spokane:

    Gonzaga University does not provide campus-affiliated childcare services. Please contact your Foundations dean and staff for guidance.

Visit University of Idaho Children’s Center

Sick and backup childcare

  • WA – Seattle:

UW offers in-center and in-home sick and backup childcare through KinderCare and Bright Horizons to eligible students at the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses. Examples of when to take advantage of these services are:

    • Your child is mildly ill and can’t go back to their care center yet (in-home care)
    • Your regular caregiver is unavailable (center or in-home care)
    • Your child’s school is closed (center or in-home care)
    • You are between care arrangements (center or in-home care)
    • You are transitioning back to work after leave (center or in-home care)

E-mail if you have questions about UW’s backup care program.

  • WA – Spokane:

Gonzaga University does not provide campus-affiliated childcare services. Please contact your Foundations dean and staff for guidance.

  • WY – Laramie:

University of Wyoming does not offer campus-affiliated sick or backup childcare services. Please contact your Foundations dean and staff for guidance.

  • MT – Bozeman:

Montana State University does not offer campus-affiliated sick or backup childcare services. Please contact your Foundations dean and staff for guidance.

  • ID – Moscow:

Idaho State University does not offer campus-affiliated sick or backup childcare services. Please contact your Foundations dean and staff for guidance.

While we understand that tuition expenses are burdensome and work hours are long, the school cannot subsidize, facilitate, or manage placement of dependents at UW childcare centers, day care, adult homes, or nursing home placement, etc. The Childcare Assistance Program is designed to assist UW Seattle campus students in covering the costs of licensed childcare for their children (ages birth–12 years old) while enrolled in an eligible program of study. For more information visit here. Financial aid can be adjusted to cover family housing expenses.

UWHR Work-Life created the listserv to make it easier to communicate with UW employee and student parents. This a moderated list and can be used to share UW resources and programs. Subscribers can send messages to be shared with the group, but please note that only businesses that have formal agreements with the University can be promoted through the listserv.

Subscribe to (NetID required).

A leave of absence is always available to you. While the UWSOM cannot influence residency programs one way or the other, the UWSOM Career Advisors and College and other mentors help students prepare for interviews and personal statements, including how to address leaves of absences and other interruptions in their education.

It is important to meet with Diane Noecker, Director of Financial Aid, to discuss financial implications. A leave of absence could impact grace periods on loans and affiliations with WWAMI partners for the duration of medical school coverage. Be aware that you may accrue additional debt for tuition, housing, childcare expenses, etc.

The answer depends on whether you are in the Foundations Phase or the Clinical Phase. For students in the Foundations phase, taking a leave of absence mid-quarter will likely result in a forfeiture of any tuition paid. More detailed information can be found on the Student Fiscal Services website.

Students in the Clinical Phase might receive a prorated adjustment to tuition if they have not already begun a clerkship that is scheduled mid-quarter and they drop below a certain amount of registered credits. Keep in mind that changes to course load as well as leaves of absences can affect financial aid, including the possibility of having to pay back a portion of it or even losing aid entirely. Students should talk with UWSOM Registration and Financial Aid to discuss their specific situation.

While UWSOM does not offer free help with financial planning, the UWSOM Financial Aid Office is a great resource for discussing aid options.

Per the UWSOM absence policy, all students are granted 2 days off for anticipated absences. Policies for making up missed time beyond this vary depending on the clerkship. Students can always take a leave of absence between clerkships.

The UWSOM occasionally offers family-oriented events. These will be announced by the UWSOM Counseling and Wellness Services and, occasionally, other departments.

The most important thing is the health of you and your baby. If you feel overwhelmed or even just discouraged, the UWSOM counselors can provide free and confidential services. Visit UWSOM Counseling and Wellness Services for contacts.