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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Leave of Absence Policy

Leaves of absence are defined as a temporary separation from the University for a maximum of one year.  Students who do not maintain full time enrollment during a 3 month period will be put on a leave of absence. All leaves of absence must be approved.  Students will receive a confirmation letter from the Registrar once the leave is approved. Under some circumstances, a leave of absence may be renewed upon re- application and provision of justification.  During a leave of absence students will not be considered active students.  A student on a leave of absence must surrender their NMH Badge, Wildcard and will not have access to CTA UPass/Ventra card or NU student parking.  Students on a leave are not eligible for federal or private student loans. A leave of absence may trigger student loans to go into repayment status. Students who are on an approved medical leave of absence are permitted to remain enrolled in the NU-Student Health Insurance Plan. We are required to report all leaves/interruption of medical education in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE).  This is a brief 1-2 sentence description indicating the general reason for the leave

Requesting a Leave of Absence 

A written request to take a leave for reasons of personal or family crisis must explain the nature of the situation, such as death, disability, or serious illness of a family member; collapse of financial support; or impending legal issue. The request must also explain how the student expects to cope with his or her particular situation before returning and the anticipated return date.

If a leave is being requested due to health reasons, a written request to drop for reason of illness must be made to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and in some cases be accompanied by documentation from the treating physician stating that continuation by the student under the prevailing circumstances is not practical. In addition, the physician should project when the student might be able to resume his/her studies. It may be necessary, depending on circumstances, that a fitness for duty examination be performed on the student by appropriate professionals before re-entry to Feinberg is granted.

Requesting a return to active status/end of Leave of Absence 

Before returning to academics, students on leave may be required to meet with the SPC. The committee will be interested in hearing how the student spent their time away from academics, and how they have addressed their personal or academic issues. The SPC will determine if a return to academics is in the best interest of the student at that time.  A formal response regarding a student's return will be sent to the student on behalf of the committee.

Last Updated: 8/28/2019