Academic Status Policy

Students admitted to the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences have demonstrated considerable scholastic achievement.

It is expected that they are all capable of mastering the tasks involved in learning to be physicians. These encompass, in the words of Sir William Osler, "not a college course, not a medical course, but a life course, for which the work of a few years under teachers is but a preparation."

The academic status policies are intended to guide and facilitate successful completion of the academic program leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine. The policies described here set forth: criteria for assessment of academic performance; requirements for successful completion of the educational program, promotions and graduation; methods for recognition of academic excellence; criteria for failure and dismissal; procedures for review of students in academic difficulty and remediation; procedures for resolution of grievances and appeals; policies for leave of absence from the School; and policies for participation in elective activities.

The complete Academic Status Policy may be found here.

Code of Professional Conduct

Code of Professional Conduct - Electronic Signature Required

To embrace and actively support the timeless ethics and values associated with the medical community, the Code of Professional Conduct for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was developed and ratified by students in 2000.

Matters of professional conduct are handled by the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC). The PCC consists of three student representatives from each class and three faculty members. Abiding to the Code is a condition of matriculation at this school.

The PCC’s primary goals are to:

  1. Help Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students develop professional ethics; and
  2. Encourage honesty and integrity in themselves, their peers, and the discipline of medicine.

The PCC serves as a resource for education on professional conduct and fact-finding for alleged breaches of professional conduct. In the case of code violations, the PCC provides resources and guidelines for both students who have encountered potential misconduct and for those charged. The committee favors resolutions that promote professional development over punitive measures.

All Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences students should become familiar with the Code, as it provides a reminder to all of us that we have entered a profession in which we have the power to affect the lives of many — a power that must be treasured, respected, and never abused.

Grading Policy

Following is the general grading policy across the medical curriculum.  Please refer to the syllabus of each course or clerkship for specific information.

Medical school courses, modules and clerkships are graded as shown below:

  • H = Honors
  • S+ = High Satisfactory
  • S = Satisfactory
  • U = Unsatisfactory (see below)
  • I = Incomplete (see below)
  • W = Withdrawal (cannot be removed from transcript)
  • R = Resigned (cannot be removed from transcript)

A student who fails a Phase 2 shelf exam and who is eligible to remediate the clerkship by sitting for the shelf exam a second time will not receive a grade until the shelf exam is retaken. After the result of the shelf exam is returned by the NBME, a final grade will be sent to the OME in a memo format for recording on the student’s permanent record.

Once given, Unsatisfactory, Withdrawal and Resigned grades will become part of the student’s academic record. Remediation of Unsatisfactory grades will be credited at the next scheduled course offering. (For example: An Unsatisfactory grade in the fall semester will show the remediation in the fall of the following year).

Incomplete grades are to be given only in the event of illness or other individual circumstance which made it impossible for the student to complete the required coursework. Failure to complete coursework on time without approved extenuating circumstances requires an Unsatisfactory grade.

Withdrawal grades will become part of the student’s academic record in the event a student fails to pass the USMLE and cannot begin clerkship on time.

Resigned grades will become part of the student’s academic record in the event a student drops a course after the university date for dropping a course.

Infection Control Guidelines (Needle Stick Policy)

Bloodborne Infectious Disease Guidelines for UB Medical Students

  • Consider blood, body fluids and tissue from ALL PATIENTS to be potentially infectious. 
  • Perform hand hygiene before/after all patient contacts. 
  • Wear gloves when exposure to blood and body fluids may occur, eg, during phlebotomy. Change your gloves and perform hand hygiene after each procedure and before contact with another patient. 
  • Wear a gown, mask and goggles when blood or body fluids splashes may occur, eg, during surgery, placing nasogastric tubes, etc. 
  • Report immediately all incidents of blood and body fluid exposure of the following types: 
    • Parenteral: needle stick, puncture or cut. 
    • Mucous membrane: splash to eyes, nose, mouth. 
    • Cutaneous: contact with blood and body fluids on ungloved hands or other skin surfaces that may be cut, chapped, abraded, or affected by active dermatitis.

Exposure Risk

Higher Risk Exposure:

  • Needle stick, especially hollow.bore needles and/or deep injury
  • Other percutaneous injuries such as cuts 
  • Source patient with known untreated or poorly controlled infection with HIV/HBV/HCV 

Lower Risk Exposure:

  • Mucous membrane splash 
  • Non-intact skin splash 
  • Human bite with blood exposure

Exposure Management

(possible Haptitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV exposure)

Immediate response:

  • Clean wounds or punctures with soap and water 
  • Flush mucous membranes or skin copiously with water or saline 
  • DO NOT “force bleed” the wound 
  • DO NOT apply caustics (eg, bleach, organic solvents, hard surface disinfectants, etc) 

After First Aid:

  • Prompt medical evaluation is important to ensure adequate treatment. 
  • Inform the supervising house officer or attending physician of any exposures and report, as soon as possible, to the Emergency Department or Employee Health Service at the institution where the exposure occurred. If the student is at a facility without either of the above, report to the UB Student Health Center on the Main Street Campus or the emergency department of an affiliated hospital.
  • When HIV post–exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated, early treatment (within hours) is recommended. 
  • Carefully note the type of exposure, type of fluid/tissue involved and appropriate information about the source patient (risk factors, lab data)

Laboratory Data for Proper Management

  • On the EXPOSED health care worker: 
    • Hepatitis B & C antibody tests 
    • HIV test (4th generation) 
    • If HIV PEP will be used: CBC, electrolytes, BUN/creat, LFTs, pregnancy test 
  • On the SOURCE patient: 
    • Hepatitis B surface antigen 
    • Hepatitis C RNA test 
    • HIV test (4th generation) 

Recommended Treatment

  • General management: 
    • Tetanus toxoid (if needed) 
    • No specific treatment if HCV (+) source 
  • Hepatitis B specific management: 
    • Hepatitis B vaccine (if not immune) 
    • Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG) if not immune and known Hepatitis B surface antigen (+) source 
  • HIV PEP: 
    • May be indicated – prescribed according to CDC guidelines based on severity of injury & risk of source patient (see refs) 
  • Follow–Up: 
    • Student Health Center (Michael Hall) with Dr. J Sellick 


You must be your own advocate!

Learning Environment, Discrimination and Harassment Policies

The purpose of this policy is to define student mistreatment and provide mechanisms for reporting violations of this policy. The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences recognizes that preparation for a career in medicine demands the acquisition of a large fund of knowledge and a host of special skills. It also demands the strengthening of those virtues that undergird the doctor–patient relationship and that sustain the profession of medicine as a moral enterprise. This Policy serves both as a pledge and as a reminder to teachers and learners that their conduct in fulfilling their mutual obligations is the medium through which the profession inculcates its ethical values. Details of this policy can be found here. Students can report violations through the outlines measured in the policy, which includes the University at Buffalo anonymous system.

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences also follows the University at Buffalo Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

Phase 1 Absence and Attendance Policy

Students may be justifiably absent from required sessions due to religious observances, illness, public emergencies, documented personal or family emergencies, and conflicts with University sanctioned activities. University sanctioned activities include, but are not limited to, presentations and other official representation at professional meetings and conferences.

The student is responsible for notifying the course director and the course coordinator in writing with as much advance notice as possible of required absences, preferably at the beginning of the course. It is recognized that absences, especially for illness and emergencies, may not be known at the beginning of the course. Students should contact the course director as soon as possible for absences due to these circumstances.

Absences for illness may require medical documentation. Students must contact the course coordinator for any medical absences. For justifiable absences, course directors will provide reasonable alternatives to students.  Students are responsible for the prompt completion of any alternative assignments that may be given by the course director. Unexcused absences from a graded/points bearing activity may result in not achieving stated points/credit.

Attendance is mandatory at exams, small group activities, such as case-based sessions and pathology labs, and active learning sessions, such as PBLs, TBLs, and flipped classroom sessions. 

Phase 2 Absence and Attendance Policy


Punctuality is a core component of professionalism.  Students are expected to arrive prepared and on time to all clerkship activities.  Students with pervasive tardiness will be contacted by the clerkship director.

Health/medical absences:

Absence for more than two days in an 8 week clerkship (medicine, surgery) may result in a grade of “Incomplete” and you may be required to make up the lost time.  For a 12 week clerkship, in addition to the preceding, the policy for a 4 week clerkship/course applies to elective blocks.

Absence for more than 1.5 days in a 6 week clerkship (pediatrics, FM, psychiatry, GYN/OB) may result in a grade of “Incomplete” and you may be required to make up the lost time.

Absence for more than one day in a 4 week clerkship/course (Neurology, advanced medicine, surgical subspecialties) may result in a grade of “Incomplete” and you may be required to make up the lost time.

It is your responsibility to notify the hospital coordinator if you will be absent from either the inpatient or outpatient rotation due to illness. Asking another student to notify your team or the outpatient site is not acceptable and will be considered as unprofessional behavior. Documentation from the treating physician may be required.

Please contact the clerkship coordinator in the event of serious illness for which you anticipate more than two days absence.

Absence due to attending a conference:

During all clinical rotations/clerkships, advanced permission to attend a conference must be obtained from the clerkship/course director at least six weeks in advance. Proof of attendance will be required.

Preferential consideration will be given to students who have an active role in the conference.

Permission to attend a conference must also be obtained from the Office of Medical Education.

Absence due to residency interviews

During all clinical rotations/clerkships, advanced permission to attend a residency interview must be obtained from the clerkship/course director.

This will occur only during the four week courses in the fourth year. One day per (7 day) week is allowed, or as given permission by the clerkship/course director.

United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE)

USMLE Step 1

All students are required to take the USMLE Step 1 Exam after the second year and prior to the start of the third-year clerkships. A passing grade on the Step 1 Exam is required to begin the third year. However, students that have taken Step 1 but not received their scores by the beginning of the first clerkship will be allowed to begin their first clerkship. Students who have started their clerkship without a grade who then receive a failing grade on the Step 1 Exam are to complete the first clerkship (in progress) and then take a leave of absence from the school for a 6-week clerkship period to study for and retake the Step 1 Exam. The student will then resume the third year while awaiting the new score. If the second attempt results in a failing score, he or she will be placed on a leave of absence for up to one year.

Personalized assistance and counseling will be available to those affected and these students will work closely with OME to optimize their chances for success. Students must then re-take Step 1 for entry into the next third-year class. Students who fail the Step 1 Exam a third time will be recommended for academic dismissal.

USMLE Step 2 (Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills)

All students are required to record a passing score on the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS) Exams as a requirement for graduation. To meet the graduation requirement, all seniors are required to schedule and sit for both exams by Dec. 31 of the year prior to graduation. Therefore it is strongly recommended that students apply for and schedule the Step 2 Exams no later than June of the year prior to graduation. This scheduling should allow adequate time for processing the application and for results to be reported in advance of graduation. This will allow time to repeat the exam(s) if needed. Students who fail Step 2 (CK or CS) three times will be recommended for dismissal. No student will be allowed to receive the Doctor of Medicine degree without a passing score on the Step 2 Examinations.

If a student chooses to take the Step 2 Exam(s) after Jan. 1 of the fourth/graduation year, and fails the exam(s), he/she may be placing their future postgraduate medical education in jeopardy. NBME restrictions on processing time, time required for rescheduling the exam, and delays in the reporting of scores may not allow the student to complete graduation requirements prior to graduation and if this occurs, the student will not be allowed to graduate with their class or participate in the graduation procession and ceremony. It is also highly likely that a student with a delayed graduation will not be allowed to start his or her scheduled residency.

USMLE Preparation and Certification

Information and advisement about preparation for the USMLE exams will be provided to students by the Offices of Medical Education and Curriculum. If eligible, Dr. Frank Schimpfhauser from the Office of Medical Curriculum will complete the Certification of Identification Form on your behalf.