Attendance in the MD Program
A high rate of attendance is key to the success of medical students, given the competency-based, experiential nature of medical training and the central role played by highly interactive small-group modes of instruction at the University of Toronto. However, there are instances which may necessitate medical students requiring time away from the MD Program, as defined below. These regulations and guidelines permit and support absences from mandatory learning activities in order for students to seek needed health care services. The MD Program has adopted a set of regulations for student attendance and guidelines for approved absences from mandatory activities, colloquially known as 'absence policy'.
These regulations and guidelines describe reasons for health-related and other types of absences that are normally acceptable and corresponding procedures that are intended to:
- be clear, user friendly and implementable with available resources
- minimize disruption to student learning and patient care
- enable consistent and equitable decision-making
- maintain the educational integrity of the MD Program’s goals, objectives and competencies
- facilitate the early identification, in a safe and confidential manner, of students who may require support
- ensure students are empowered to succeed in their progress through the program
Types of absence
Absences from mandatory learning activities fall into two categories:
Unplanned: absences that arise due to unforeseen and often emergent circumstances
- Planned: absences that arise due to known or anticipated circumstances
Changes to rotation call schedules are not considered planned absences. Students who would like to request a change to their call schedule should contact the relevant Clerkship course director and Clerkship course administrator.
A prolonged absence or series of absences that affects the ability of a student to complete a course or curricular component within its normal timeframe or a reasonably extended timeframe (as defined by the relevant curriculum leaders) may be more effectively addressed and supported by a Leave of Absence (LOA), defined as an official, temporary withdrawal from studies. Further details regarding LOAs are included in the program’s Regulations and guidelines for leaves of absence from the MD Program
For both planned and unplanned absences:
- Course and Component Directors (or their delegates) are responsible for determining if deferred/make-up work or assessment is required, and communicating next steps to the student.
- Students are responsible for covering material and knowing the content from any missed sessions and, if applicable, completing any deferred/make-up work or assessments.
Mandatory Learning Activities
|Foundations (Years 1 and 2)||Clerkship (years 3 and 4)|
(as indicated in MedSIS)
Please note that the following are considered unprofessional behaviour that may be reflected in a student’s professionalism assessment:
- Failure to attend a mandatory learning activity for an urgent/emergent reason (unplanned absence) without providing notification within a reasonable timeframe
- Failure to attend a mandatory learning activity for a reason that was known or anticipated, or can reasonably be expected to have been known or anticipated, but for which a planned absence request was not submitted
- Disregarding the decision of an MD Program leader regarding a planned absence request
Reporting an absence
Unplanned absences are absences that arise due to unforeseen and often emergent circumstances, including for:
- Illness/injury/personal crisis
- Family emergency
- Funeral/memorial service
- Travel/transportation emergencies (e.g., accidents, subway breakdowns)
Notification Procedures (Unplanned Absences)
You are responsible for reporting an unplanned absence using the MD Program’s unplanned absence notification form as soon as possible after attending to the immediate needs arising from the situation.
Submission of a U of T Verification of Illness (VOI) Form is required for health-related absences from assessments or for health-related absences of more than two consecutive days of mandatory learning sessions. The completed U of T VOI form must be submitted normally no more than five business days after the last day of the unplanned absence. Depending upon the type or duration of the absence, or the number of prior absences, students may be required to submit other supporting documentation.
Planned absences are absences that arise due to known or anticipated circumstances and require prior approval by the Course or Component Director. Students should not assume that approval will be granted for planned absences and are strongly advised not to commit to any plans before receiving confirmation of approval from the Course or Component Director(s) (or delegate).
Notification Procedures (Planned Absences)
Students are responsible for using the MD Program’s planned absence request form to submit planned absence requests in a timely manner, as follows:
- For planned personal day absences in Foundations and Clerkship, at least two weeks' notice are required prior to the start date of the missed activity(ies)
- For Clerkship clinical rotations, at least 30 days prior to the start date of the rotation in which the missed activity(ies) are scheduled to take place.
- For all other Clerkship courses and all Foundations courses, at least 30 days prior to the activity(ies) to be missed.
Planned Personal Day Absences
Students in years 1, 2, and 4 of the MD Program are allotted 3 planed personal day absences per academic year. Students in year 3 of the MD Program are allotted 4 planned personal day absences per academic year. The following limitations apply:
'Blackout periods refers to periods in which a planned personal absence day cannot be requested.
- No more than 1 Personal Day can be taken per Foundations course
- Blackout periods: Assessment dates (includes MEs, progress test, HSR presentations, ICE:CS observed assessments, OSCE, and any dates where a student must reassess)
- No more than 1 Personal Day can be taken per Clerkship rotation in Year 3 or per elective/selective in Year 4
- Blackout periods: ME, OSCE dates, during a course of two weeks or less in duration, on days marked for course orientation, scheduled call days, and centralized teaching days (TED, TTR Campus Weeks, Portfolio sessions)
- Personal Day absences cannot be combined with any other planned absence types (e.g., conferences)
If the planned absence request is approved, the student is responsible for informing the immediate education supervisors of the activities they will be absent from. If the matter is sensitive, the student may elect to first consult with the Associate Dean, Learner Affairs or a counsellor in the Office of Learner Affairs to determine appropriate notification procedures.
Possible types of planned absences include:
- Academic presentation at a conference
- Participation at a conference in an official leadership role
- Significant event (major celebration or event for self or another, invited athletics event or other competition)
- Health care appointment
- Funeral or memorial service
- Religious observance
- Other (attach copies of any relevant documentation)
Planned absences do not include:
- A request for changes to student call schedules. Students who would like to request a change to their call schedule should contact the relevant Clerkship course director and Clerkship course administrator.
Please refer to the full policy document for information regarding typical decision outcomes for common planned absence requests.
Information Requirement(s) for Reasons of Absence
|Reason for absence||Information Requirements|
We strongly advise you not to commit to any plans before receiving confirmation of approval from the Course or Component Director(s) (or delegate).
If the planned absence request is approved, the student is responsible for informing the immediate education supervisors of the activities they will be absent from. If the matter is sensitive, the student may elect to first consult with the Associate Dean, Learner Affairs or a counsellor in the Office of Learner Affairs (OLA) to determine appropriate notification procedures.
General regulation on taking examinations as scheduled
The Faculty expects students to be present at examinations as scheduled. Nevertheless, illness or personal circumstances may interfere with a student’s ability to adequately prepare for or write an examination as scheduled. In these circumstances, students should contact the appropriate Course Director as soon as the problem becomes apparent. It is the responsibility of the Course Director in the first instance, to determine whether the circumstances warrant an accommodation.