School absences

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. At the same time, we recognize that you are adult learners who should be given the flexibility and freedom to make judgements regarding your own learning needs.  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'.

We understand that special circumstances may warrant your absence from a mandatory activity, and we will accommodate reasonable requests from students that demonstrate respect for the following principles:

  • equitable treatment of oneself in relation to other students
  • recognition and fulfillment of one’s academic responsibilities
  • awareness of the factors contributing to one’s well-being
  • sound judgement with regard to one’s abilities and limitations
  • respect for all aspects of the MD Program and all members of the MD Program community

You must report absences for all activities that are scheduled assessments or mandatory learning activities. Absences fall into three categories:

  • planned absences - prior knowledge of an anticipated absence requiring a request for approval from the MD Program to miss an activity/activities
  • unplanned absences - absence arises due to unforeseen and often emergent circumstances
  • leave of absence - constitutes an official, temporary withdrawal from studies, and is recorded on the student’s transcript

Reporting an absence

Unplanned absence

Students will be required to follow-up with Course Directors/Tutors/Admins for any missed work.

Respect for the workplace nature of the clinical environment is an important part of student professionalism. It is important, then, that students make reasonable attempts to inform clinical site leaders as soon as possible of any absence.  When reporting an absence via e-mail, please include your clinical supervisor and coordinator, if known, on the CC line (e.g. Clinical Skills/ASCM, Clerkship rotation clinics, etc.).

For reference, U of T's Verification of Illness Form

Submit using your UTORemail.

Absence Button - Unplanned Absence



If you experience issues using the pre-populated notification, please copy the fields in the template for unplanned absences (WORD) and submit via e-mail

Planned absence

Students should not assume a request has been approved until they receive communication from the MD Program.  Please note that requests for changes to student call schedules are not considered an absence request. Students who would like to request a change to their call schedule should contact the relevant Clerkship course director and Clerkship course administrator.

Possible types of planned absences are as follows:

  • Academic conference; presenting
    • date of presentation, location of conference and travel days if applicable
      • Absence to present at a conference will normally only be approved for a maximum of three coursework days. A coursework day is defined as any day on which a student may be scheduled to participate in curricular activities, which may include Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays in courses that include call and/or ER shifts.
    • required to attach correspondence confirming acceptance of paper/poster
    • required to attach a copy of your abstract
    • if you're not the first author you also are required to have a letter from the research supervisor and/or first author explaining why you're being asked to present
    • absence requests to attend but not present at a conference are normally not granted
  • Research project participation
    • location of research project and travel days if applicable
    • a clearly set-out plan and articulated objectives for the proposed absence, including how it compliments the MD Program (required)
    • a statement of support from the research project supervisor may also be required
  • Appointment with a course director or MD Program leader
    • include the name/role of the person
  • Attendance at an MD Program committee meeting
    • describe the committee and your role
  • Family emergency
    • do not specify details
  • Funeral or memorial service
    • indicate relationship
  • Health care appointment
    • include rough time frame of appointment; do not specify details
  • Major personal celebration of event; active participation
    • describe the event, indicate your role, include intended travel days if applicable
  • Organized athletics event or other competition; invited participation
    • required to attach correspondence of invitation
  • Religious holiday
    • specify specific date(s) and holiday
  • Personal day
  • Other (attach copies of any relevant documentation)

For health care appointment and family emergency/situation, students may be required to provide information and/or supporting documentation for private review by the Associate Dean, Office of Health Professions Student Affairs (OHPSA).

Guidelines regarding consideration of notification of personal days

Personal days cannot normally be used:

  • on scheduled call days in clerkship
  • on days marked for course orientation
  • the day before or the day after a long weekend or vacation period
  • two days before, the day before, or the day of an assessment
  • in conjunction with another type of absence (e.g. before or after attending a conference)
  • on clerkship courses of two weeks in duration, or less
  • on three days within the same academic year where a specific theme content is covered: e.g. three mandatory ethics/IPE/Leader/Portfolio in Foundations
  • on three days within the same clerkship course
  • on a day where a Portfolio session is held in the clerkship


  • Under extenuating circumstances, exceptions to the above will be considered.
  • Please do not submit a planned absence request for personal days if your circumstance is not applicable to the above “Guidelines regarding consideration of notification of personal days”.
  • Students are responsible for submitting personal day requests as far in advance as possible, normally at least four weeks in advance of the activity(ies) to be missed. 

Submit using your UTORemail.

Absence Button - Planned Absence



If you experience issues using the pre-populated notification, please copy the fields in the template for planned absences (WORD) and submit via e-mail

Staff and faculty

Staff and faculty reporting that a student was unexpectedly away from a mandatory activity and were not previously aware of this absence can report the sbsence below.

Absence Button - Staff and Faculty



If you experience issues using the pre-populated notification, please copy the fields in the template for staff & faculty absence notification (WORD) and submit via e-mail




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. As it is the Faculty’s policy to strongly encourage students to take examinations as scheduled wherever possible, in most cases (for example those involving less serious illness) you will be encouraged to attempt the examination as scheduled.

Students who feel that their performance on an examination may have been compromised by their personal illness or personal circumstances must complete a Petition for Consideration for Performance on an Examination or Assessment (PDF) form through Enrolment Services. This form should be completed with 24 hours of the scheduled examination and may require medical documentation.

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