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The Brody School of Medicine
Office of Student Affairs

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M3 Attendance Policy

The third year for Brody medical students consists of clinical rotations where the students are seen as integral parts of the healthcare team. Clerkships carry professional obligations and responsibilities. To become a competent and dedicated physician, a student needs to be responsible for attendance in the clinical setting. Students should make every effort, consistent with the idea of each student as an adult learner, to be in attendance at regularly scheduled activities. 

In the event of illness, unexpected personal need, or professional obligations which require absence from a clerkship, the student must fill out an Excused Absence Request Form (in the Office of Student Affairs or online).  The information provided will be reviewed, on an individual student basis by the Office of Student Affairs and be assigned an excused or unexcused status by the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.  For absences other than an acute illness or unexpected personal need, the form must be received in Student Affairs no less than thirty days prior to the start of the clinical rotation.

A student must contact the Office of Student Affairs as well as the Clerkship Director/Coordinator as soon as possible to let them know of an absence.  Individual Clerkships may require that the team and/or attending also be notified.

The following guidelines should be considered when requesting an excused absence:

  1. Illness:Illness of short duration (1-3 days) requires only that a Request for Excused Absence Form be completed upon return to classes.  Long-term illness may require evidence that medical care was required in addition to completing the Request for Excused Absence Form.  (Examination rescheduling as the result of an illness or personal need will be determined in conjunction with the clerkship directors, coordinators and the Office of Student Affairs).
  1. Personal Need:A Request for Excused Absence Form should be completed for unexpected personal issues (death of family member, illness of immediate family member, required surgery, etc.). upon return to class. 
  1. Professional Meetings:  Students requesting an excused absence from required clerkship experiences in order to attend local, regional or national professional conferences must be in satisfactory academic status (i.e. passing average in all course work) at the time of the request.  A Request for Excused Absence Form for each student attendee must accompany all organizational travel requests (30 days prior to start of clerkship).  Excused absence requests must be approved prior to processing of travel forms.  Please note that examinations will not be rescheduled to accommodate attendance at an organizational event.
  1. Other Considerations:  Will need to make an appointment to meet with an Assistant Dean for Student Affairs by contacting 252-744-2278.

Our medical students are encouraged to care for their own health and well being as such will need to schedule their own medical appointments. The student must schedule appointments that do not conflict with their clerkship responsibilities especially examinations or other important teaching sessions. The student should contact the clerkship director/coordinator to ask when the best time to schedule an appointment is, but the student must also follow the procedure of completing a Request for Excused Absence Form through the Office of Student Affairs.

Participation in orientation sessions are MANDATORY since important information regarding the experiences and expectations will be reviewed during this time. If absence from an orientation session is unavoidable, a request from Student Affairs must be made and approved in advance. If not, the grade may be adversely affected.

In the event of an acute illness, the student should notify the Office of Student Affairs first then the clerkship director and coordinator per the clerkship guidelines. A voicemail may be left if calling before 8:00 a.m., but please leave a return number. If the student is aware of which resident they are working with, they should contact them as well. However, notifying only the resident does not preclude the student from notifying the above personnel, and failure to do so may adversely affect the student’s grade.

Students should familiarize themselves with attendance requirements of each clerkship. Clerkships expectations and attendance requirements for the clerkships are determined and recorded by the department. Clerkship will notify the Office of Student Affairs regarding absences of each student to determine if students are missing excessive days. Departments may waive/alter the attendance guidelines to fit their clinical course and activity as designated during orientation session of the clerkship. During the orientation session, the guidelines that are specific to that clerkship will be reviewed with students. The only restriction is that the guidelines may not restrict  absences to fewer than those allowed by this policy.  Some clerkships may require remediation if an excessive number of scheduled experiences are missed whether excused or unexcused. Third year clerkships allow the following maximum number of excused absences:


Length of Clerkship:                               Number of Excused Absences

·         8 weeks or more                                        5 days

·         6 weeks                                                    4 days

·         4 weeks                                                    3 days

·         2 weeks                                                    1 day


Absences for social events ( i.e. member of wedding party) are less likely to be excused. However, an absence request form should still be completed for review by the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Clerkship directors will be contacted to determine the educational impact of the request. For all clerkships, the resident or faculty (attending) directly working with the student are not allowed to grant approval for an absence. Please do not ask these individuals as this may adversely affect your grade.

An unexcused absence is any absence for which a student has not received prior approval, excluding acute illness. Unexcused absences may adversely affect your grade and may be grounds for failure. Also the unexcused absences are considered unprofessional and will be reported to the Office of Student Affairs.

The following are some examples of application of the M3 Attendance/Absence Policy:



Acute illness - Student A has acute illness of 3 days duration on Surgery, an 8 week rotation.

Upon return to classes, the student must complete Excused Absence Request Form in the Office of Student Affairs or online. Since Surgery is an 8 week rotation (5 excused absences allowed), this student now has 2 excused absences left.

Medical Conference - Student B wants to attend a medical conference next month lasting 2 days and is currently on their OB/GYN rotation, a 6 week rotation.

Student must complete Excused Absence Request Form (in the Office of Student Affairs or online 30 days before the conference. Since OB/GYN is a 6 week rotation (4 excused absences allowed), this student now has 2 excused absences left.

Making appointments - Student C wants to schedule an immediate appointment with their neurologist on the Cardiovascular rotation, a 2 week rotation.

Student speaks with course director regarding the best possible time to schedule appointment and must complete the Excused Absence Request Form in the Office of Student Affairs or online as soon as possible. Since the Cardiovascular rotation is a 2 week rotation (1 excused absence allowed), this student now has 0 excused absences left. If student exceeds their allotted excused absences, he/she will have to speak with Student Affairs and their Clerkship director.

Illness in immediate family - Student D’s father is in the hospital. They are currently on the Pediatrics rotation, an 8 week rotation.

Upon return to classes, the student must complete Excused Absence Request Form in the Office of Student Affairs or online. The student ends up spending 4 days in the hospital. Since Pediatrics is an 8 week rotation (5 excused absences allowed),, this student now has 1 excused absence left.

M4 Attendance Policy

There are 40 weeks available in the curriculum.  A minimum of 34 weeks must be successfully completed to meet the requirements for the M.D. degree.  Students needing time for residency interviewing, travel to and from alternative experiences, USMLE study time, clerkship remediation time, or time for personal or professional activities are expected to use their vacation time.  Students will not be permitted absences from required electives except for medical or emergency reasons.


During your senior year, you are allotted 6 weeks to use towards USMLE Step 2 preparations, interviewing, and personal use.  You may split these 6 weeks into two-week blocks to help with interviewing and Step 2.  It is the student’s responsibility to inform the appropriate individuals of any absences.  You cannot take vacation during Block 10 (April).  Students wishing permission must petition in advance to the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.


Course directors are absolutely under no obligation to give you time off of any rotation with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays and Match Day.  If you are registered for their course, they have a right to expect you to be there.  If you need to take a few days to interview, you have to arrange for them during your own time.  Many course directors will work with you for some short periods of time off their rotations, but only if you have made arrangements with them in advance.  You can’t just expect it.  Even when you have an excused absence from a rotation, such as for an interview or illness etc., you should expect to make up the time in some way.  Student Affairs may approve you for one day off from a two-week rotation and no more than three days off from a four-week rotation.  However, a course director has the right to be more strict with days off.  So, communicate with the course directors when needing time off.

Mandatory Holidays for senior medical students are Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year Holiday.  Seniors also receive Match Day (3rd Thursday in March) off.  If a medical student does not obtain a position in the NRMP Match, they also receive off the two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) before Match day, the so-called “scramble days”.  Other holidays for senior medical students are at the discretion of the course director or may be delegated to the resident on the service.  The student is expected to assume in many respects, the role of a physician, and in doing so, to recognize the needs of patients for attention and the needs of the service for coverage, regardless of weekends and holidays.


Taking more than the allowed number of absences will result in a grade of incomplete until course requirements have been fulfilled.  You could also receive a “F” grade if the course director feels you have not met the objectives of the course or have not been in attendance enough to grade you.  The grade of “F” is a permanent on your academic transcript.


Excused Absences: Selectives carry professional obligations and responsibilities.  In case of illness, unexpected personal need, or professional obligations that require absence from a selective, the student must fill out an Absence Request Form (in the Office of Student Affairs).  The information provided will be reviewed, on an individual student basis, and an excused absence may be issued.  Students are responsible for notifying the Office of Student Affairs first, then the appropriate persons (faculty, attending, and residents) of an impending absence.
Leave of Absence (LOA)

The mission and purpose of Brody School of Medicine is to train competent and caring physicians who will help to meet the primary care health needs of Eastern North Carolina.

Your goal is to graduate and become a competent, caring and compassionate physician.  For some individuals, this goal will be achieved in four years.  For others, the goal will be achieved, but it may take longer than four years.  Many individual circumstances, that cannot be predicted in advance, contribute to a situation where an individual student needs to utilize more than four years to graduate from the School of Medicine.  Some of the circumstances that may occur include personal illness or family illness, academic difficulty, or rethinking career choice. 

The goal of the School of Medicine is to assist each individual student in achieving their goal in a manner that is consistent with their individual values, quality of life and accommodates, as feasible, extenuating circumstances that arise during their medical education.

Individual schedule adjustments and Leave of Absences are available for students who determine that they would benefit from an individualized curriculum (utilizing more than four years to complete the medical curriculum) or from a leave of absence. 

Please schedule an appointment with the Dean for Student Affairs to discuss your individual situation and concerns.  Decisions regarding an Individualized Curriculum or Leave of Absence for a student are based on individual circumstances and personal needs.  Once a decision has been made, the student will receive a letter detailing the specific terms of an Individualized Curriculum or Leave of Absence.  The Office of Student Affairs will notify appropriate Course Directors and individuals of the student’s status.

[Note:  Education Policies of the School of Medicine and Code of Student Conduct for ECU-SOM appear in the appendix.]