Religious/Ethical Matters

Requesting accommodation for religious holidays and activities

Principle: The purpose of this policy is to acknowledge respect for the religious diversity of UMMS students by providing opportunities, where possible, for accommodation in cases where genuine conflicts exist between students’ religious beliefs/practices and educational activities. Such accommodations must honor the primacy of our commitment to patient care and not unduly burden faculty or disproportionately affect the general student population involved in the affected educational activity.

Applicability: This policy applies to any UMMS student who, because of religious beliefs or practice, believes that s/he is unable to attend a class, participate in any examination, or in other ways fulfill an educational requirement of any course, clerkship or other required activity.

Policy: Recognizing that the religious diversity of its students may result in conflicts between students’ religious beliefs/practices and certain educational activities, UMMS will attempt to make accommodations that honor the primacy of its commitment to patient care and do not unduly burden faculty or disproportionately affect the general student population involved in the affected educational activity. Students who believe they have a need for religious accommodation during any course, clerkship or other required educational activity shall notify the relevant instructor/preceptor as soon as possible after an impending conflict becomes apparent — preferably prior to or at the beginning of the course, clerkship or other activity.

If it is established that there is a legitimate need for the affected student(s) where possible, shall be provided reasonable accommodation, including the opportunity to make up the activity in conflict if this is indicated.

Requesting exemption from participating in certain educational and/or patient care activities for religious/ethical reasons

Purpose: To allow students under certain circumstances, to exercise their rights not to participate in certain aspects of care or treatment of patients while still continuing their academic requirements.

Policy: The Medical School believes that all patients, without regard to diagnosis, disability, race, color, religion, creed, gender or gender orientation are entitled to comprehensive and individualized quality care.

The Medical School recognizes the right of students in special or unusual circumstances to decline to participate in certain aspects of patient care which are in conflict with their ethical or religious beliefs only if the following conditions are met: a) The student notifies his/ her course/clerkship director and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs of the request not to participate in an aspect of the curriculum. b) The written notification is dated and includes the aspect of the curriculum the student is requesting not to participate in and the reason for the request. c) The notice is signed by the student as well as the course/clerkship director. d) The course/clerkship director reviews the notice and discusses any potential problems with the student, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and the appropriate Evaluation Board if necessary and places the request in the student’s file where it will be maintained.

A student may not refuse to participate in the care or treatment of a patient based solely on the patient’s diagnosis (e.g. HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis or other contagious diseases) or behavior. Such a refusal may result in a disciplinary action up to and including termination. a) An exception will be made when a student has been directed in writing by a personal physician to avoid patients with certain diagnoses because of danger to an existing health condition of a student. b) The student will provide the written directive to his/her course/clerkship director and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. c) The course/clerkship director will review the physician’s directive and discuss any potential problems with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. The Associate Sean for Student Affairs will place the notice in the student’s file where it will be maintained. d) A student will not be subject to any adverse action or evaluation for exercising his/her rights under this policy.  However, the student’s ongoing performance evaluation process may consider whether the request to participate can be appropriately justified based on ethical or religious beliefs.

In accordance with Massachusetts General Law 112 sec 12I, no student shall be required to participate in an elective abortion or sterilization procedure if their objection is on moral or religious grounds and they state this objection in writing to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. This exclusion from participation does not excuse the student from responsibility for understanding basic science, methods, rationale or counseling related to these procedures.

When a student has exercised his/her right under this policy, the care or treatment of the patient shall not be compromised.