2.04 Course Registration Policies

Registrar Add/Drop Procedures

Adding or Dropping Courses

 

Registrar Add/Drop Procedures

 
SUMMARY: Add/drop for both preclerkship electives and advanced clinical experiences may be made online in live time based on deadlines specific to each category of electives.
  • Generally, preclerkship electives may be added/dropped up to 3 weeks from the start date of the course.
  • Advanced clinical  electives may be added/dropped up to 45 days prior to the start of a rotation.
  • Once the deadline date occurs, students cannot make further changes online. Any changes must be reviewed and processed through the Registrar’s Office. There is no guarantee that late changes will be approved.

Students who matriculated August 2015 or later should contact the Registrar’s Office regarding add/drop changes.

All scheduling (core and elective courses and clerkships) is managed through the Registrar’s Office. To ensure fairness in scheduling for all students, we do not allow students to contact course directors to make special arrangements (unless instructed to do so by the Registrar’s Office).

The complete add/drop policy is detailed below.

  • Any request to add or drop a one-month advanced elective course must comply with the established add/drop deadlines.
  • Add/drop changes for one-month elective courses/clerkships may be completed by self-service up to 45 days in advance of the rotation start date.
  • To ensure that all students are treated fairly in the scheduling process, students are not allowed to "switch" clerkships with other students, nor are students allowed to be taken as “extras” into clerkships, even with approval of the course director. All add/drop requests must be processed online through the Registrar's Office database (OASIS); please do not negotiate directly with the clerkship.

ONCE A CLERKSHIP HAS STARTED (CORE OR ELECTIVE), IT CANNOT BE DROPPED.

 

FULL-TIME STATUS:  Every student must maintain full-time status for each semester that he or she is enrolled (unless on a Leave of Absence or enrolled in another degree-granting program). Pathways and HST curricula are by design full time during preclerkship and PCE phases. Beginning with the Post-PCE, full-time status requires a minimum of twelve-week equivalents (generally, this is three 4-week equivalent clerkships) per semester; please note: fulfillment of the graduation requirements generally requires that students be enrolled more than 12-weeks per semester. 

The fall semester runs from July to December; the spring semester runs from January to May. Away rotations, independent studies, and research months may count towards the required 12-week equivalents, provided these experiences will earn 4-week equivalents (40 hours/week for 4 weeks).

NOTE:  In the graduating semester, if a student has fulfilled the graduation requirements, a student may be enrolled at least half-time (8-week equivalents) January through April.

UNSCHEDULED MONTHS:  The Registrar's Office tracks monthly activities for each student. Therefore, if a student is not scheduled for an HMS course, the student is required to inform the Registrar's Office of his/her plans for those months. In addition to the clinical clerkships for which a student is scheduled, the Registrar’s Office must track other activities, such as vacation, "AWAY" electives, research months or independent study.

SCHEDULING PRIORITIES:  In the add/drop process, Harvard medical students have first priority for clinical electives until 90 days before the start of the rotation. Subsequently, any available spots may be used to schedule visiting students.

Adding or Dropping Courses

 
Preclerkship Courses:  Preclerkship elective courses may be added or dropped up until three weeks after the start of the course.

All registrations are considered tentative until after the add/drop deadline. Minimum and maximum enrollments are checked. Harvard Medical School students have priority over cross-registered students for spaces in HMS courses.

Clinical Electives: Any request to drop a clinical clerkship or clinical elective must be made at least 45 days prior to the beginning of the course. Once a clinical clerkship or clinical elective has started, it may not be dropped; should a student discontinue a rotation once it has begun, a “W” (withdrawn) will be the assigned grade. Signing up for a clinical course represents a two-way commitment on the part of the student and the school/hospital. Prior to the beginning of the clerkship, the school/hospital commits its faculty/patient/time resources; dropping a course at a late date may deny other students enrollment due to capacity requirements; and course/clerkship leaders rely on the student to be there on time and to be fully engaged to participate in all aspects of the experience. This agreement should be viewed as being as important as keeping an appointment with a patient or colleague; following through on work that was promised; and, in short, being responsible and professional. As a student's career choices mature, and as a student's study plans for National Board exams come into sharper focus, keeping this 45-day time frame in mind will allow a student to modify his/her schedule without disadvantaging the course, other students or their own professional reputation.

Therefore, the policy for dropping courses is as follows:

  1. Students may drop advanced elective courses up to 45 days prior to the course, without the need to obtain formal approval from faculty or their Society. Simply make the change online.
  2. Students who want to drop a course within 45 days of the beginning of the course are required to first approach their Society before going to the Registrar. A formal request by e-mail must be submitted to registrar@hms.harvard.eduSociety approval does not guarantee the drop will be made. On a case by case basis, the Registrar will consult with the Society.

These deadlines for changes in enrollment in clerkships are in place for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Many courses have minimum enrollment requirements that must be met in order for the course/clerkship to be offered. Should a course/clerkship fall below its minimum enrollment and be canceled, time is required to give adequate notification to students affected by the cancellation, who may be deprived of taking the elective in that institution at that time.
  • Course directors and administrators require advance notification of who will be taking their course/clerkship.
  • When students sign up for a course/clerkship, doing so constitutes a contract among the student, the hospital department, and the school. For the 45-day time period prior to the course, resources are committed to the student, including faculty, staff and patients. The goal of the policy is to insure that students understand what their commitments represent while at the same time providing a pathway for addressing valid emergency situations for which exceptions are permitted.
  • Many clerkships email materials to students in advance of the course start date and also prepare in advance for such things as setting up the clinical schedule and computer accounts, arranging for lockers, ordering beepers and preparing name badges.
  • Because we have no official “waitlist” for elective clerkship requests, should you drop a rotation after the deadline, the slot may go unused. If you hold onto a clerkship slot past the drop/add deadline, you may prevent a fellow classmate from being able to take that course.

Procedure for Requesting a Change after the Deadline:  Of course, life events can prevent any physician from keeping appointments, being on call, etc. These are most often unanticipated personal or family emergencies. Allowing students to make a change after the posted deadline is permitted only for such unusual and compelling circumstances. When a student has such an emergency and needs to drop a course after the posted deadline, within 45 days of the beginning of the course, a student must notify his/her Society immediately, not the Registrar’s office. Once the Society has reviewed the student’s request and has found it to be reasonable and legitimate, only then will the student’s request be submitted to the Registrar for final consideration. This process may require a further step of getting the approval of the course director at the discretion of the Registrar, if within 30 days of the start date of the course. If this process is not followed, a final grade of "withdrawn" may be assigned.

Both the Registrar and the course director make the final determination. Students should not bypass the Society and Registrar by approaching course/clerkship directors directly. Students who wish to appeal a drop/add decision must discuss their request and the basis for it with their Society Advisory Dean or Associate Director. The Registrar and the Society will then confer about the case and make a final decision.

Required Subinternship (ME550 and PD550): While the subinternship is requested semiannually on the online study card, the subinternship cannot be added or dropped through the online application, as the Registrar’s Office continually monitors enrollments in the subinternships. Requests to change scheduled subinternship enrollments should be submitted by email to registrar@hms.harvard.edu at least 3 months prior to the requested change to ensure the slot can be filled.

Policy on Requests for Changes to Clinical Site Assignments and Requests for Site Changes

 

PRECLERKSHIP PHASE

 

Pathways

One of the centerpieces of the Pathways curriculum is the Practice of Medicine (POM), a weekly longitudinal course in which students learn interviewing and physical exam skills in a clinical setting and begin seeing patients with a primary care preceptor early in medical school. Each student is assigned to one of four teaching hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School (HMS) and is integrated into the hospital as well as a primary care/ambulatory practice at or affiliated with the hospital. This hospital-based clinical experience continues at the same clinical site into PCE Phase of the Pathways MD program, the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE), providing two years of continuity experience with a group of clinicians and patients. In many instances, students remain with the same primary care preceptor or practice in the longitudinal Primary Care Clerkship (PCC) during the PCE. Two years in the same institution also provide opportunities for experiencing the larger systems in which care is delivered, one of the program objectives of the MD program at HMS (See Section 1.08).
 
The Practice of Medicine course is based in one of four Harvard-affiliated clinical systems that also host the second-year PCE, during which students complete their core clinical clerkships (medicine, surgery, ob/gyn, pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, primary care and radiology). These four sites are Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Boston Children’s Hospital provides pediatrics experiences for students at BIDMC and BWH. The quality of the education at these clinical institutions has been shown time and again to be outstanding and equal. There is ample time in the Post-PCE Phase of the MD program to enroll in advanced elective clerkships and subinternships at any or all of the Harvard-affiliated hospitals.
 
Of the four PCE sites, Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) organizes its PCE in a qualitatively different way in the form of a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) – the Cambridge Integrated Clerkship (CIC). Prior to matriculation, students have the opportunity to enter a lottery for assignment to CHA for both POM and the PCE. Twelve (12) MD students are enrolled in POM in the Preclerkship Phase and in the PCE at CHA.
 
All Pathways students are then randomized to BIDMC, BWH or MGH for POM/PCE, unless they request to enter the lottery for POM/CIC at CHA and are enrolled there. Students who wish to be included in the lottery for CHA may register for the lottery in mid-June. Students who are not selected are randomized to one of the other three sites with the rest of the class. All students are informed of their POM/PCE site assignments in early July. To learn more about all of Harvard’s Affiliated Hospitals, please visit their web sites.
 
Students may request a change of site assignment for compelling extenuating circumstances only. Students who feel that they have an extenuating circumstance or compelling reason to request a site change may submit a formal appeal to the Dean for Students. Exceptions are rarely granted and students should be aware that submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval. Extenuating circumstances may include mobility issues that require students to be in close proximity to their clinical site, or a familial, patient or intimate relationship conflict of interest with a POM, PCE or Clerkship site director. Employment issues, schedule issues, and transportation issues are among the reasons generally NOT considered compelling enough to submit or grant an appeal.
 
Written requests must be submitted prior to the site assignment lottery or immediately after the site assignment has been communicated. Requests are considered confidential and should include the assigned site, a detailed explanation of the reason for the appeal, and the signature of the student’s Society Advisory Dean. The decision of the Dean for Students is final.
 

HST

All students in the HST Program complete their second-year Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) course at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with pediatric experiences at Boston Children’s Hospital. There are no alternative sites for HST ICM.
 

PCE (PRINCIPAL CLINICAL EXPERIENCE) PHASE

As noted above, students in the Pathways curriculum continue into the PCE at the same clinical site as assigned for POM. HST students are randomized among BIDMC, BWH and MGH in November of Year II to begin the PCE in April.
 
Students may request a change of site assignment for compelling extenuating circumstances only. Students who feel that they have an extenuating circumstance or compelling reason to request a site change may submit a formal appeal to the Dean for Students. Exceptions are rarely granted and students should be aware that submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval. Extenuating circumstances may include mobility issues that require students to be in close proximity to their clinical site, or a familial, patient or intimate relationship conflict of interest with a POM, PCE or Clerkship site director. Employment issues, schedule issues, and transportation issues are among the reasons generally NOT considered compelling enough to submit or grant an appeal.
 
Written requests must be submitted prior to the site assignment lottery or immediately after the site assignment has been communicated. Requests are considered confidential and should include the assigned site, a detailed explanation of the reason for the appeal, and the signature of the student’s Society Advisory Dean. The decision of the Dean for Students is final.
 

POST-PCE PHASE

Students in the Post-PCE phase have ample opportunities to enroll in advanced clinical experiences and subinternships at any of the Harvard-affiliated clinical institutions through the Post-PCE study card process, which is currently conducted in multiple stages beginning in spring of the PCE Phase.
 
Students select courses/clerkships for the Post-PCE period of October – August, thus allowing students to schedule clinical clerkships and the required subinternship for inclusion in the DSA.
 
Students select courses/clerkships for the Post-PCE period of September – April, including the Clinical Capstone, to ensure fulfillment of degree requirements prior to May graduation.
 
Post-PCE scheduling is done through a series of online study-card preference stages in OASIS. Following each stage, students are notified of their assignments to assist them in making the next selection. Once all stages are complete, including the required subinternship, AISCs (Advanced Integrated Science Courses), Clinical Capstone, advanced clinical electives and Essentials of the Profession II, students have the opportunity to add and drop select (primarily advanced clinical electives) courses on their schedule during the online add/drop period in accordance with the policies and procedures outlined in Section 2.04.
 
In order to ensure minimum and balanced enrollments across sites and sections, the Registrar’s Office manages add/drop requests for the required subinternships and AISCs in conjunction with the Subinternship and AISC leadership.

 

NOTE:  The add/drop policies described in Section 2.04 are subject to change without notice.

 

Updated 12/14/18