Medical school is challenging, both mentally and physically, and students may face situations where they have to balance the demands of the curriculum with major life events or personal circumstances that also require attention, care and energy. These situations include the birth or adoption of a child, a major personal illness, or an illness of a loved one. How to balance personal demands and academics requires careful consideration and planning. At times, the best option for a student may be to take a leave of absence until the student can more fully engage in the curriculum (see section “Leave of Absence.”) Other times it may be better to remain enrolled in school with modified attendance expectations and with additional support services in place. The Department of Medical Education is committed to engaging with students to create viable approaches to situations as needs arise. It is essential that students be open and proactive in these discussions, and the Department of Medical Education will likewise strive to be fair and transparent.
Any modified educational plans must involve discussion with and approval from the Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and Student Affairs. Plans may require input from Enrollment Services and Financial Aid, as well as from course and clerkship directors when relevant.
Leave of Absence
Life circumstances may require students to take time away from courses or rotations. When the need for time off is limited (see below), students may remain enrolled and will be permitted excused absences (see excused absence policies). If the time away is extensive or indeterminate, a leave of absence (LOA) may be considered. A LOA is a period of temporary non-enrollment. A LOA constitutes a mutual agreement between the School and a student with regard to utilization of time during the leave, as well as the requirements that must be met prior to reentering the curriculum. All requests for a LOA are made directly to and granted at the discretion of the Office for Student Affairs. (Note: A year off focused on research falls under a Scholarly Year and is referenced in a separate section.)
Year 1 and 2 courses are only offered once per year and have prerequisites, and all requirements in the first semester must be completed before moving on to the second semester. Because of the schedule and volume of material, having to spend significant time away from studying and mandatory sessions may place a student at risk of poor academic performance. In Years 1 and 2, the Office for Student Affairs typically grants up to two (2) weeks of excused absences for students who require time off to attend to personal circumstances, followed by a return to all coursework thereafter. Any need for time off beyond two (2) weeks may prompt the consideration of a LOA. In the event of a LOA, the student would return to courses the next academic year where the student had left off.
In Year 3 or Year 4, excused absences longer than two days will require students to make up the missed parts of a rotation. A student who requires more time off may have up to eight (8) weeks, schedule permitting. In that event, clerkships may need to be rescheduled but students may remain enrolled. Anything longer than eight weeks may affect the student’s ability to graduate on time and may require a LOA, which may be granted for up to one year. A student who takes a LOA may return to rotations at any point before the 12 month period ends (see section on return from LOA below), or convert the leave to a scholarly period. Based on when the leave is taken, the student may be required to make up parts or all of the rotation missed. The length of the leave may affect when a student is able to graduate.
LOAs may be Medical, Personal, or Administrative. See below for details.