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Attendance and Absence - Clerkship

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Active participation by medical students in learning opportunities is critical to their formation, education, and training. Sustained and deep engagement, which requires regular and punctual attendance, is expected of all students in all of their classes (lectures, laboratories, seminars, tutorials, small groups and clinical sessions).  Students who neglect their academic responsibilities may be excluded from final examinations and may be found in breach of the MD Program’s Breach of Professionalism policy.

The College of Medicine recognizes that medical students are adult learners and entitled to the privileges and responsibilities that come with such status. That being said, for many components of the program, the College of Medicine relies heavily upon faculty with clinical obligations, their patients and other patient volunteers.  Absenteeism and lack of punctuality by students place an unwelcome strain on the goodwill of all concerned.  Often a significant degree of accommodation has occurred to make these educational experiences possible.  Replicating these experiences to accommodate student absences is extremely difficult.  Acceptance of responsibility for attendance and participation in patient care is part of the student’s professional education and responsibility.  Appropriate attendance and punctuality are indicative of the student’s understanding of, and adherence to, expectations of professional behaviour.

It has been the College’s experience that, for some students, chronic non-attendance often ends up in academic and/or professional difficulty.  Students also end up feeling disengaged and separated from their class cohort, which can further affect academic success because of a lack of peer support. The College reserves the right to monitor attendance by those students who are in academic or professional difficulty. Such circumstances would be clearly documented and provided in writing to the student.

Mandatory Nature of Learning Experiences in Clerkship

ALL activities in clerkship are considered mandatory unless otherwise expressly indicated by the Course Director or most responsible preceptor.  Examples include:

  • Orientation
  • Clinical activities
  • Site-specific didactic teaching
  • Rotation-specific didactic teaching
  • Academic Half Day (except during electives or rural rotations without videoconferencing capacity)
  • Scheduled assessments (i.e. written and oral exams, presentations, OSCEs and any other session where assessment of performance is expected)

NOTE:  Regardless of the nature of the session (mandatory or non-mandatory), students are responsible for knowing the content as listed in the curricular/course objectives.  The College of Medicine reserves the right to require students to make up missed time, regardless of the nature of the session, reason for the absence, or whether or not the absence was approved appropriately, to ensure the academic success of students.

Failure to abide by these regulations without appropriate prior approval or notice after the fact for emergent absences will be deemed as a breach of professionalism as outlined in M.D. Program, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan Breach of Professionalism Policy & Procedures.  A breach of professionalism also occurs if a student disregards the decision of the College of Medicine or other authority in relation to the absences.

Unexplained absences will be treated very seriously and considered unprofessional conduct. These absences may be reflected in the final grade and may constitute grounds for failure of the rotation, even if the composite grade for other aspects of the evaluation exceeds the passing grade. The UGME office must be notified of any prolonged or unexpected absences.

If a student misses less than the maximum time permitted but there is concern that he or she has had inadequate experience to perform well on assessments, he or she may be requested to do additional time in the rotation prior to assessments.

Attendance during the CaRMS Application Process

The College understands that the CaRMS process can be a stressful time for students and requires a significant amount of preparation. Time management is extremely important during this process. Unexcused absences or neglect of clinical duties will not be tolerated and may result in an informal breach of professionalism. If a student accrues more than two informal breaches of professionalism, a meeting will be scheduled with the Professionalism Panel. This may result in a letter being sent outlining the unprofessional conduct to the student’s matched residency program. If time management is an issue, there are supports and resources available through the Office of Student Affairs.

Types of Absences

Sick Leave

Sick leave does not impact a student’s vacation time.

If a student is ill and unable to fulfill his or her clinical duties, the student must do ALL of the following:

  1. Notify the UGME office administrator at his or her site (See Appendix A for current list).
    1. If a contact is away from the phone, leave a message and/or send an email.
    2. Notify the administrative assistant in the department of his or her current rotation (See Clerkship Student Information Guide or College of Medicine website for contacts).
    3. Notify hospital switchboard.
    4. Notify his or her preceptor or ward attending.
    5. Notify the residents with whom he or she is working.

If a student becomes ill while on duty he or she must:

  1. Notify his or her preceptor and resident as soon as possible to ensure all of his or her duties are transferred to others.
  2. Notify everyone listed above.

If a student becomes ill while on call he or she must:

  1. Notify everyone listed above.
  2. Try to find a replacement for call
  3. Notify the attending for the case room if you are on Labour and Delivery.

Extended illness may require a formal medical leave request, with documentation (see below).

Medical Leave

Permission for medical leave should be sought from the Rotation Coordinator in consultation with the Clerkship Chair and the Assistant Dean of Student Services. The student’s file will be reviewed to determine if he or she is in academic difficulty.

Action/Documentation required:

  1. The student must contact Student Affairs at his or her site to discuss the reason for the leave request.
  2. A leave request form approved by the departmental Clerkship Administrative Assistant.
  3. A letter of support for the leave from the student’s own physician. The UGME office will work with the student to determine if any other documentation is required.  If the supporting documentation is confidential in nature documentation can be submitted to the Student Affairs Office at the student’s educational site.

Compassionate Leave

Permission for compassionate leave must be sought from the Rotation Coordinator affected by the absence. The Coordinator will consult with the UGME office regarding the leave and documentation may be required. These requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Under regular circumstances compassionate leave will not exceed 3 days. 

Educational Leave

The following policy should be used to allow students to attend educational activities (i.e. conferences):

  • A maximum of 4 days in Year 3 is allotted for Educational Leave. A maximum of 3 days in Year 4 is allotted for Educational Leave.
              This applies to all sites.
  • If a student is presenting at a conference, additional time may be granted by the rotation coordinator to attend.
              Apart from these timing considerations, standards for successful completion of rotations will not be amended.
  • To avoid confusion or misunderstanding, students should make their arrangements directly with the relevant Rotation Coordinators.
  • A request for Educational Leave must be documented on a leave request form and approved by the Rotation coordinator and forwarded to the UGME Administrator. This will be tracked in the UGME office and the leave request will be declined if the 7 day maximum is exceeded.


Vacation allocation is 8 weeks (40 days), excluding weekends, throughout clerkship: 5 weeks in Year 3 (of which 2 will be scheduled in December) and 3 weeks in Year 4 (of which 2 will be scheduled in December). A maximum of one week from Year3 may be carried over to Year 4.  Students may use a portion of their holiday time for electives (typically in Year 3) – usually students who are interested in highly competitive programs where additional elective time would be of benefit – see Elective policy. 

Note that the December holidays will be scheduled for the group of JURSIs, and other holidays will be scheduled at the individual JURSI’s request (see parameters below). A maximum of 3 week days may be taken as vacation during a 4 week block (Rural Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine).

  • A maximum of 5 week days may be taken as vacation during a 6 week block.
  • Vacation leave will be arranged such that any instance in which 5 regular working days are taken consecutively, the student will be taken off call the weekend before OR after the requested weekdays.
  • Vacation leave is not allowed during the week of the OSCEs and the last week of a rotation when an NBME is to be written.
  • Off call days do not count as vacation days and are subject to approval by the department.
  • Students shall request vacation time from the Clerkship Administrative Assistant of the department in which the student intends to take that time at least 6 weeks in advance of starting service in that department.
  • Additionally, some rotations will not allow students to take time off the first week of the rotation as that is when departmental orientations are scheduled.
  • A request for Educational Leave must be documented on a leave request form, submitted to the Departmental Clerkship Administrative Assistant and approved by the Rotation Coordinator then forwarded to the UGME Administrator. This will be tracked in the UGME office and the leave request will be declined if the vacation day maximum is exceeded.
  • Please note that vacation time must be approved first prior to arranging extra electives, which must also be approved (see electives policy).

Statutory Holidays

Students are entitled to all statutory holidays. CLERKs who are on duty on a statutory holiday between 0800 and 1700 shall be given time off in lieu of that day. Time off in lieu must be arranged with and approved by the departmental Clerkship Administrative Assistant of the rotation in which the time was earned.

Statutory holidays recognized by the University of Saskatchewan:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  •  Easter Monday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Saskatchewan Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

Please note that even though Easter Monday is not considered a statutory holiday by the University of Saskatchewan, clerks are still entitled to a day in lieu if they work this day.

Appendix A – Contacts for Notification of Absences

UGME Office Clerkship Administrators:

Clerkship Administrative Assistant -
Jessica Hicke,

Clerkship Administrative Coordinator –
Carolyn Blushke

Clerkship Administrative Coordinator -
Anne-Marie Ethier

Prince Albert:
Clerkship Administrative Coordinator -
Nicole Toutant

Departmental Clerkship Administrative Assistants:
See the list in your Student Guide to Clerkship, or the Contact List.