Leave of Absence and Clinical Expansions

A leave of absence is when you take off two or more quarters, are not enrolled in any course work or clerkships, and are not paying any tuition or receiving any financial aid. A leave of absence will affect your schedule and may affect your graduation date.

A clinical expansion is when you spread out your clinical curriculum such that you are enrolled at least every other quarter. Expansions are only an option in your clinical curriculum. A clinical expansion will delay your graduation date.

All students who wish to take a leave of absence or a clinical expansion must receive approval from a Dean in Students Affairs. Students may explore this option by first meeting with the Director of Proactive Advising to learn about the potential implications involved with this decision. Student Affairs can approve one year of leave. If you’d like to take two years of leave, the second year must be approved by the Student Progress Committee. Additional leave beyond two years is at the discretion of the Student Progress Committee.

Reasons why you might take a leave of absence/clinical expansion:

  • Having a baby
  • Personal health issues
  • Family emergencies
  • Career exploration or research
  • Break from medical school

Reasons are mandated by the Student Progress Committee (SPC):

  • Remediating a failed Foundations required course, block, or thread
  • Remediating a failed clerkship
  • USMLE issues

  • Completing a research fellowship
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
    • Fogarty
    • Doris Duke
    • Sarnoff
    • Pathology
  • Completing a concurrent degree
    • MPH or MHA
    • PhD or other degree

Important Considerations

  • It will be noted in your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) that you took a leave or expansion, and took longer than 4 years to complete the MD.
  • Learn more about the Match at http://www.nrmp.org/, and click on the Program Director Survey report for information related to each specialty.
  • Unless you completed a concurrent degree, if it takes 6 or more years for you to complete medical school, you are at risk of not successfully matching to a residency program, and you may need to consider career options that do not include clinical practice.
  • Students are highly encouraged to meet with Career Advising and/or a Student Affairs Dean to discuss the impact a leave or expansion might have on matching to future residency programs.

If you take a leave of absence or expand your curriculum and obtain financial aid, please make an appointment with SOM Financial Aid to discuss the financial implications of your choice. If you are a Wyoming, Alaska, or Montana regional WWAMI student, make you sure know the contract requirements of your program to avoid any unexpected financial difficulties.

Late add/drop fees:

Click here for registration deadlines.

  • If you are unsure of your plans for a given quarter and drop a course or add a course late, you will have to pay fees to the Office of the University Registrar.
  • If you plan to make changes to your academic schedule, be aware of potential changes to your tuition bill. Credits dropped after the 7th calendar day of the quarter may incur a tuition forfeiture fee. If possible, make your changes before the deadline to avoid extra charges.
  • Refer to the Office of the University Registrar for information about late adds, drops, and withdrawals – https://finance.uw.edu/sfs/tuition/forfeiture-refund

Re-enrollment fees:

  • If you do not enroll in any courses for two consecutive quarters, you will be required to re-enroll and pay a re-enrollment fee to the Office of the University Registrar.
  • You will have a “withdrawal” noted on your UW transcript for the quarters during which you were un-enrolled and not on an official leave of absence.
  • If you do not maintain enrollment or leave status, you will need to observe the Office of the University Registrar’s re-enrollment application deadlines. If you are denied re-enrollment, your upcoming courses/clerkships will need to be cancelled. Visit this website for more information: https://registrar.washington.edu/enrollment-and-records/returning-student-reenrollment/
  • You can consider applying for a Hardship withdrawal if you have had to withdraw from a course. Consult with the Registrar or Associate Dean of Student Affairs to discuss this further.

Taking a leave of absence or expanding can have impacts on your schedule further down the road. If you take a leave of absence or expand your curriculum early in your third year, you will want to consider the following:

  • Having sufficient time to study for Step 2 CK
  • Having time to travel and complete residency interviews– you will need to build in at least four-six weeks to your clinical schedule for residency interviews. During a four-week clerkship you may request up to two days off, but the timing of this has to be negotiated with the clerkship director or administrator and cannot be during orientation, the exam, or other required activities.
  • Receiving an MSPE for residency application requires that the Patient Care Phase clerkships are completed by the end of Spring A. If you are registered for a patient care phase clerkship in Summer A or beyond, you will not be able to enter the match as you will not have an MSPE, which is required for your residency application.
  • Graduation requirements:
    • The Patient Care Phase OSCE must be scheduled in Seattle in the May/June time frame after you finish 3rd year required clerkships
    • Transition to Residency in Seattle — this required course is only offered in May immediately preceding graduation

  • Students on leave of absence do not pay the fees associated with the UPASS and IMA, therefore will not have access to these resources.
  • Students on leave are unable to register for any courses with UW or UWSOM for the quarters they are on leave.
  • Students on leave will continue to have access to the library and other electronic services and resources the library offers.