Attendance & Time Off

University Policy

BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine Policy

Policy Statement

This policy addresses the expectations for student attendance and the procedures for requesting time off.


Developing competency to practice medicine within four years requires reliable attendance. This policy formalizes the process for requesting time off for both planned and unexpected absences during the four years of medical school. The clear communication of expectations between students and course and clerkship directors will permit flexibility within reasonable limits in a way that does not impact either education or reflect on a student’s professionalism.


Excused absences across ALL years include:

  • Acute illness
  • Diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic health services (including sick days)
  • Religious observances
  • Jury duty
  • Unanticipated family/personal emergencies
  • Conferences (only if the student is presenting, is an officer in a national organization, or other situations by special permission from the course/clerkship director)

Notification Expectations

For all planned time off, the student must notify the course, module, or clerkship director as far in advance as possible:

  • Religious holiday notifications should occur before the start of the academic year.
  • Conference requests must be made at least eight weeks before the start of the module or course.
  • For all excused absences, the student must contact the module or course director and/or coordinator to report the absence and its expected length as soon as possible.
  • If a student will be absent for more than three days, the student must obtain a note from their physician.

Extended Absences

If a student is absent from the pre-clerkship curriculum for three or greater mandatory sessions, the student is required to contact the course director(s) to discuss making up the academic time lost. The registrar and the OSA must also be informed of all absences in the pre-clerkship or clerkship curriculum with three or greater mandatory sessions of absence. Every attempt will be made by the course/clerkship directors to help the student make up sessions, if possible. If the time cannot be made up, the student may be required to repeat the course or clerkship.

Medical Student Time Off During the Pre-clerkship Curriculum

Students in the first and second years are encouraged to attend all class sessions to fully benefit from the pre-clerkship curriculum.

Attendance at the following sessions is MANDATORY:

  • All sessions in which patients are present
  • All sessions that are designated as Chobanian & Avedisian SOM Core Integrated Cases
  • All sessions in the Doctoring 1 and Doctoring 2 courses
  • All start-of-year Orientation sessions
  • Any large-group discussion or small-group discussion designated and approved by the Medical Education Committee as mandatory (this will be designated approximately two months in advance)

Non-mandatory sessions may have assessment value linked to quizzes and/or participation.

The maximum number of missed mandatory sessions in each pre-clerkship course may be found in the specific Course Policies.

Medical Student Time Off During the Clerkship and 4th-Year Curriculum

Professionalism in patient care requires reliable attendance. Any third- or fourth-year student with more than five absent days (not made up and excluding personal days) in one academic year will be referred to the Student Evaluation and Promotion Committee. It is the student’s sole responsibility to finish the year with five or fewer absent days as previously defined.

The time-off policy for the third and fourth years includes:

In addition to the excused absences defined above, other excused absences include:

  • Residency interviews
  • Personal days (refer to the Core Clerkship Personal Days Policy)
  • Step 2 CK
  • Missed clerkship time because of travel complications (must be reported to clerkship director immediately)

Please note the following exception: Step 2 CS—days are excused and do not count toward the student’s total absences.

Specific Requirements for Residency Interviews

Students who need time away from their clerkships for residency interviews are permitted to request up to 12 days off during interview season, which runs from October 1 through February 15 of each academic year. In addition:

  • All requests for time off must provide the clerkship director with written confirmation of the interview date and location.
  • To minimize time away from the curriculum, students are encouraged to take a four-week block of vacation during the residency interview season. Alternatively, students may request permission to split a four-week rotation over eight weeks if enrollment and the structure of the clerkship permit this schedule.
  • Students may request no more than four days off for interviewing during any four-week rotation, and no more than two days over any two-week rotation. This includes partial-day absences of greater than four hours. Students will be required to make up time off at the clerkship director’s discretion.
  • Students who require more days off than permitted under this Policy must arrange with the clerkship director to make up the missed days. Missed days cannot be made up by taking time from other rotations.
  • Students are not permitted to take more than two days off in any core clerkship for residency interviews.

Making Up Time in Clinical Experiences

For clinical experiences in the clerkships, the student must be available to make up any time off at the discretion of the clerkship director.

Relevant LCME Element(s): 8.8 Monitoring Student Time; 12.4 Student Access to Healthcare Services

Approved by the Medical Education Committee (MEC) on March 19, 2018.
Revised by the MEC on June 13, 2019.