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General Course and Clerkship Guidelines

Supporting student success

The Carver College of Medicine is committed to supporting our students to ensure their success.  Educators should familiarize themselves with the many resources we offer students to allow them to maximize their achievement and PDF iconmental health, and encourage students to take advantage of these opportunities.

Standards for evaluations

Evaluation of student progress in courses and clinical clerkships is based on a combination of written examinations, competency assessments, and direct observations by faculty and residents that are intended to provide summative evaluation of a student’s fund of knowledge, participation and professional comportment. Which assessments are utilized, their frequency and the relative weight attached to each component are features established by each department or course director.  These standards must be presented to students during orientation at the beginning of each course or clerkship and are to be available in printed or electronic syllabi. 

The Assessment Committee determines a subset of questions (aka “standard” questions) to include in student evaluations of courses or clerkships that enable the Medical Education Council to monitor the quality of individual units within the curriculum, and across semesters and phases. The Assessment Committee will also establish acceptable procedures and policies for the administration of course/clerkship evaluations and appropriate use of the resulting data, including who may have access to the data.

Individual courses and clerkships may not alter standard items. They may include additional questions in customized sections of questionnaires intended for courses/clerkships to ask about unique aspects of their courses; however, requests for new items or changes to existing ones must be submitted to the Assessment Committee for approval before the changes will be made.

Honors and near-honors grade distribution

The percentage of students achieving Honors or Near Honors as a final grade in a given course should be limited to approximately 40%. The purpose of this suggestion is twofold. First, it encourages students to maintain or improve their performance throughout the semester. Second, the Near Honors grade allows the College to differentiate students who are near honors from those who have just passed. However, the final determination in this regard, either more or less than the suggested figure, is made by the course director and/or the responsible department.

Policies for students with disabilities

The Carver College of Medicine strongly encourages students with disabilities to identify themselves as early as possible so that reasonable accommodations for which they may be eligible can be determined and provided.  Educators should familiarize themselves with these policies, especially as they relate to reasonable accommodations.


M1 and M2 students who fail a basic sciences course generally are required to retake the entire course. Occasionally, however, a student is allowed to take a make-up exam as remediation for the failing grade rather than repeat the course.

A student who has passed an examination cannot retake the examination to obtain a higher grade in the course or clerkship.

If a student fails a clerkship exam:

  • Students have 6 months to repeat and pass a failed required clerkship final exam, during which time the clerkship grade will be “Incomplete”. If this deadline is not met, the clerkship grade will become a “Fail” and students are required drop their current clerkship immediately and will be scheduled to see the Promotions Committee. 
  • A maximum of one retake of a final required clerkship exam is allowed and the retake will be the same format as the original examination, but not the identical examination.
  • Students who fail the final examination in a required clerkship and repeat only the examination (the requirement to repeat the final examination must be outlined in the clerkship syllabus) are not eligible for Honors or Near Honors for the clerkship.
  • After a second final required clerkship exam failure, the student will receive a failing grade in the clerkship.
  • Students can only have 1 unresolved clerkship exam failure at any given time.  Any students who have 2 or more unresolved failures will be required to immediately drop the current clerkship.  Students will not be allowed to continue in the curriculum until compliance of this policy has been met. 

The Honor Code

The Honor Code applies to all work submitted for academic credit. Educators should familiarize themselves with the Honor Code.


Neither scheduled nor excused absences obviate the student from completing the required course or clerkship educational activities.

Unanticipated Absence: Students must notify the course or clerkship coordinator or director of absences resulting from illness or other unanticipated issues. A course or clerkship director may require details regarding the absence, but not medical documentation.

Unanticipated Absence Due to Exposure: Students exposed to an infectious disease (e.g., mumps), should contact the course or clerkship director and let them know. A student who develops symptoms should not report to class or clerkships, but should call Student Health to be evaluated. A student exposed to a blood-borne pathogen should follow the instructions under Health Policies.

Anticipated Absence: Students must request permission in advance when an issue arises that will necessitate an absence from courses or clerkships. Any unexcused absence from a course or clerkship or from an examination may result, at the discretion of the course or clerkship director, in a failing grade.

University regulations require that students be allowed to make-up examinations which have been missed due to illness, mandatory religious obligations, or other unavoidable circumstances or University activities.

Requesting Time off from courses and clerkships

Students are expected to use the online site to request and report any time off from courses or clerkships.

Students are expected to request in advance any time off that is needed from a course or clerkship. Students are also expected to report any absence that occurs due to illness or other unforeseen event, as soon as reasonably possible.  Absences, anticipated or unanticipated, will require a plan to complete any missed work (including deadlines), which will be communicated via the absence request approval process. More detailed instructions can be found on the time off request site (click on “instructions and policies” in the in upper right-hand corner).

Any unexcused absences from a course, clerkship or examination may result, at the discretion of the course/clerkship director(s), in a failing grade.

When requesting time off from a core clerkship or advanced elective:

  • Students should not request the first (orientation) day off or the exam day. Check the clerkship ICON course materials for the exam day and time.
  • Students should not request time off on the day of a Core Clerkship Objective Standardized Clinical Evaluation (OSCE).
  • Time off may not be taken from one clerkship in order to make up time from another clerkship. A request can be made if a student needs to repeat an exam from a previous clerkship, but not on an orientation or exam day.

If you have any questions about the absence request system or how to utilize it, please contact your curriculum manager assigned to that semester or the clerkship coordinator.  Read the full policy here.

Policy Statement Supporting Breastfeeding Students in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine

The University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine is committed to supporting the academic success of lactating students. Through partnerships with college and department leadership, a policy has been developed, in accordance with national health care laws and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement on breastfeeding and the use of human milk that support the efforts of students who wish to continue to provide breast milk to their infants through pumping after they return to their academic programs.  Read the full policy.

Approval of New Courses

The Medical Education Council makes all decisions regarding approval of new courses.  See here for the process and guidelines for new course development.