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Attendance expectations and absences

At its core, student responsibility to attend and complete scheduled instruction is a vital element of professional behavior. Students are expected to attend all scheduled instruction in both preclinical and clinical courses.

Situations will inevitably arise in which a student will need to be, or desire to be, absent from scheduled instruction. These situations encompass two broad categories: unanticipated or anticipated absences (see below). By definition, anticipated absences are identified in advance. Successful resolution involves planning in advance and, whenever possible, requesting a schedule change through OSAC such that a rotation can be rescheduled rather than asking a course or clerkship director to provide special arrangements in instruction to accommodate the student’s request. When this is not possible, the course or clerkship director has the authority to act on the student’s request.

Neither scheduled or excused absences obviate the student from completing the required course or clerkship educational activities.

Unanticipated Absence. Students must notify the course or clerkship 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. Students should follow Student Health guidelines and those of the UIHC Communicable Disease Work Restrictions policy IC-EH-08.002.  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.

Examples of Requests and Likely Responses

Examples of requests that should be granted:

  • Personal health appointments - student or immediate family
  • Death in the immediate family

Examples of requests that are reasonable but which may or may not be granted depending on the duration of the request and educational activities:

  • Presentation at a regional or national meeting
  • Attendance at an established CCOM meeting for which the student is member of the committee
  • Attendance at a wedding as a member of the wedding party. Most of these events are known well in advance and students are encouraged to work first with OSAC to secure a schedule change. Request by the student to move an examination from the last day of the clerkship to accommodate wedding events are discouraged but the final decision rests with the course or clerkship director.

Examples of requests that are generally unreasonable and are likely to be denied:

  • Car repair
  • Haircuts
  • Pet related issues

Absence from exams

The Carver College of Medicine's Guidelines for Course and Clerkship Directors states: Unforeseen emergencies or family obligations may arise that conflict with scheduled examinations, and course directors are encouraged to be reasonable in balancing the legitimate needs of students, of the course or clerkship, and of the College.

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.

Severe Weather Policy

ALL medical students (M1 through M4) and physician assistant students (PA1 through PA3) will follow any University Central Administration's decision about cancellation of classes due to severe weather. If the University cancels classes, this applies to all preclinical courses AND to all clerkship rotations. Course directors, faculty, and clerkship directors are aware of this policy.

Please see the University's severe weather page for any cancellations and other severe weather information.

If the University remains open during inclement weather, you are expected to make every reasonable effort to make it to your exams or clerkships.

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 an Objective Standardized Clinical Evaluation (OSCE). Passing the OSCEs is required to pass the clerkship and individual make-up OSCEs are not available. The OSCE schedule can be found at www.medicine.uiowa.edu/md/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/third-yearcore-curriculum
  • 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.


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.


This policy applies to all Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) students who may need lactation accommodations.


Departments and units within the CCOM must reasonably accommodate a student’s request for lactation time and ensure there is no retaliation, whether actual or threatened. Most lactating individuals need to pump milk approximately every 2 hours to maintain adequate milk supply. The policy applies to all educational/training experiences, including classroom experiences, clerkships and laboratory experiences.

Lactation Break

  • Supervisors, faculty and students, will work together to establish convenient times to allow the nursing student to pump or breastfeed in cases where the child is available.
    • Supervisors should facilitate flexible scheduling to meet these unique needs if doing so will not seriously disrupt learning.
    • Faculty in all programs and years of the CCOM’s curricula should work with students to identify times in class schedules when it is possible to meet these unique needs.
  • It is assumed there is no serious disruption of learning or class activities by providing lactation break time.

Lactation Facilities

  • The CCOM will provide appropriate space for the individual to express milk or breastfeed in private.  Students attending off campus rotations should discuss their needs with their clerkship directors to identify appropriate space to express milk or breastfeed in private.
  • The University of Iowa has lactation rooms available in the CCOM and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  A list of University lactation rooms can be viewed at hr.uiowa.edu/family-services/lactation-facilities-and-resources.

    Areas such as restrooms are not considered appropriate spaces for lactation purposes, unless a restroom has been altered to accommodate separate lactation rooms within the space.


How to Access Lactation Facilities and Services

Supervisors and faculty who receive a lactation accommodation request are advised to do the following:

  • Review available space in their department and be prepared to provide appropriate space and lactation time. 
  • If the lactating student does not have a private office and there is no appropriate space nearby, access one of the UI Lactation Room Locations listed at hr.uiowa.edu/family-services/lactation-facilities-and-resources.

For additional information regarding lactation resources at the University of Iowa, nursing individuals can contact Family Services at 335‐1371 [email: familyservices@uiowa.edu] or hr.uiowa.edu/family‐services.

Compliance and Penalties

  • The University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine may deny the request to accommodate a lactating individual only if it seriously disrupts learning by providing lactation time in accordance with applicable laws. 
  • Any intent to deny the request for accommodation by a department head or supervisor must be made on a case‐by‐case basis and must include consultation with the student’s degree program:
    • Doctor of Medicine: Amal Shibli‐Rahhal, MD, MSc, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Curriculum, 353‐7812 [email: amal-rahhal@uiowa.edu].
    • Doctor of Philosophy: Jodi Graff, Administrative Director, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, 335‐8306 [email: jodi-graff@uiowa.edu].
    • Masters of Physician Assistant Studies: Anthony Brenneman, MPAS, PA‐C Director of the Physician Assistant Training Program, 335‐8435 [email: anthony-brenneman@uiowa.edu].
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy: Richard Shields, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Chair and Departmental Executive Officer, 335-9803 [email: richard-shields@uiowa.edu].
  • Nursing individuals who believe they have been denied proper and appropriate accommodation are encouraged to contact:
  • The University of Iowa encourages its faculty, staff, and students to make good‐faith reports of University‐related misconduct. The commitment to improve the quality of the University through such reports is vital to the well‐being of the entire campus community. Retaliation as a response to such a report will not be tolerated. Retaliation, whether actual or threatened, destroys the sense of community and trust that is central to a quality environment. The University, therefore, wishes to make clear that it considers acts or threats of retaliation in response to such reports to constitute a serious violation of University policy (11.1‐6 Anti‐Retaliation Policy).

If you have any questions related to this policy please contact the individuals listed above in this Policy Statement Supporting Breastfeeding Students in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.