MD Program

Contact Administration

1216 MERF
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2600
Phone:(319) 335-8278
Fax: (319) 335-8643

  • Student Handbook


    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. 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.

    Time off from clinical clerkships

    Students in the clinical curriculum are expected to use the online site to request and report time off from clerkships Students are expected to adhere to the following policies that accompany the time off request system:

    Medical students are expected to request in advance any time off that is needed from a clerkship. Students are also expected to report, after the fact, any absence that occurs due to illness or other unforeseen event. It is the clerkship director's prerogative to require that time off is made up. 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.

    Students should not request the first (orientation) day of a clerkship off or the exam day. Check the clerkship's ICON course materials for the exam day and time. Students should not request time off on the day of a Performance Based Assessment (PBA) exam. Passing the PBA is required to pass the clerkship and individual make-up PBA exams are not available. The PBA exam schedule can be found at  

    Go to for specific guidelines and instructions.