June 26, 2019 | 82° F

Rutgers health centers do not provide medical excuse notes — here's why

Photo by Casey Ambrosio |

The policy upheld by Rutgers Health Services regarding doctor's notes is meant to keep students from visiting centers for the sole purpose of getting out of class, but some professors still require written verification for excused absences.

Cold season is upon Rutgers University, meaning one thing: sick students. While students might be eager to utilize the Rutgers Health Services to try to relieve their fall illnesses, they might be disappointed to find out that their time spent in the waiting room skipping class will not be excused. 

According to a policy on medical excuse notes released by Rutgers Student Affairs, Rutgers Health Services will only provide notes for students with significantly prolonged illnesses.

It is up to your instructors to determine the necessity of an excused absence from classes, labs or exams.

“Reporting your absence does not ‘excuse’ you. It notifies your instructors, a courtesy that provides an opportunity for you to contact your instructor directly about missed work,” according to the policy.

Rose Bartley, assistant director of Health Information and Patient Services, said that she wants to expel any misconceptions with the medical excuse slip policies.

“Our services should not just be utilized for notes. It is not the best use of our time,” she said.

Bartley stressed that student wellness is their number one priority.

“If you are coming in for a stomach ache from three days ago and asking for a note because you missed something, you are taking time away from a student who really needs it,” Bartley said. “But if you are sick, you should take the time to get better.”

She said that a good relationship between the professor and the student is important. Instructors need to trust in students when they say they cannot be in class because of an illness and that students need to be responsible for maintaining that relationship with their instructor.

According to the Rutgers self-reporting absence page, students are responsible for attending classes, labs, exams and informing the instructors when a student cannot attend.

The University policy excuses absences due to religious observance or participation in Rutgers-approved activities. Students are allowed to make up work missed for these circumstances.

Bartley compared missing classes to calling in sick for work and said that if one of her employees calls in sick she wants them to take the time they need to recover, but that they should get a note when necessary to let her know when they will be well enough to return.

Tatyana Rodriguez, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that she thinks the policy is fair.

“They don’t want people abusing it or thinking they can get out of class for whatever they want,” she said.

Rodriguez said that if students make a doctor’s appointment during a class, it is at their own risk and it should not be excused.

On the other hand, Maryam Hamedanchian, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, believes the policy is not fair.

At the time of the interview, Hamedanchian had strep throat and said that she still had to go to all of her classes.

“I’ve tried to get notes because most classes require a note for illness,” she said. “Health services doesn’t give excuse slips, though.”

By Jillian Pastor

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