FAQs for Medical Students
Note: This site is being updated on an ongoing basis to incorporate answers to frequently asked questions received by Dean Garg (Medical Education) and Dean Jackson (Student Affairs).
Please submit your questions by using this form.
Any questions regarding personal health should be discussed with your primary care provider or Healthway.
Students who have medical questions related to the vaccine and post-vaccination side effects should call Healthway at 617-353-0550 from 7 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week, and press 2 to speak with a nurse.
Federal/State COVID Guidelines
1. What are the current Massachusetts COVID-19 Guidelines? MA State requirements can be viewed on MA.gov.
All students, upon arrival to campus, will be required to test and stay in place until one negative test result is received from the BU testing lab. This will be approximately 24 hours. Students can leave to get food or attend medical and COVID testing appointments, but cannot attend class or any BU-sponsored programming in person until the negative test is received. We encourage testing prior to coming to campus, but this will not satisfy or change the BU testing requirement. Students will then be required to follow screening, testing, and quarantine protocols, as outlined on this page [Reviewed 8/13/21].
BUSM Covid Screening, Testing, Quarantine, Vaccines & Boosters
1. What process should I follow for getting COVID testing? Students should NOT contact BMC’s Working Well Clinic regarding COVID related concerns, including testing. All COVID related concerns, including possible exposure to a COVID+ patient, need to be directed to BU Healthway. If BU Healthway advises you to get screened, you should go to the ILI Clinic (1st floor, Crosstown Building) between 8:30am-Noon Monday through Friday. The ILI Clinic sees walk-ins only; no appointments or referrals are needed. Do not call the ILI Clinic.
- Provide your insurance information; health insurance will be billed
- Results will be available via MyChart, usually within 6-12 hours. The ILI Clinic will call with results within 2 days. (Note: Students are encouraged to sign up for MyChart in order to receive results more quickly)
- It is the student’s responsibility to inform BU Healthway of their test result
BU Healthway will give recommendations for quarantine, return to class/clinical rotations, as appropriate.
See additional details regarding BU’s COVID-19 Screening, Testing, and Contact Tracing here. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
2. What are the hours of the BUSM Covid Testing Site? Collection Hours: The BUMC Collection Site (R-107) will be open for appointments seven (7) days a week, 7am-8pm, by appointment only. Appointments are scheduled for 15 minutes, but we have found so far it goes much more quickly.
Detailed hours for all of BU’s collection sites can be found here. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
3. Are COVID tests covered by insurance? Screening tests are covered by the University. Medically necessary tests are covered by BUSM’s student health insurance (Aetna). Students with other forms of insurance should check with their carrier. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
4. Is testing mandatory? All students will be required to get COVID-19 testing when they arrive on campus. During that time, students will need one negative COVID-19 test before they are eligible to attend classes in person. Additional details can be found on BU’s Screening, Testing, & Contact Tracing Page.
As students return to campus for Spring 2022, it is required that all students receive a negative COVID-19 test at a Boston University testing facility prior to returning to in-person programming on Tuesday, Jan. 18. It is highly recommended that students observe a ‘stay-in-place’ until they receive their negative test result. BUSM Students will continue to be required to test once weekly.
5. What happens if I get a positive test result? If you test positive, call Healthway at 617-353-0550 and isolate yourself from others immediately. Please let your Course Director or Clerkship Director know so they can work with you on your curricular requirements. Isolation for individuals who test positive is being reduced from 10 to 5 days if the individual has no symptoms or their symptoms are resolving (no fever). Healthway has the authority to clear you for a return to the classroom or clerkship and will communicate with you at the conclusion of the five-day period to check your progress. Since Healthway nurses will no longer call students who test positive on a daily basis while in isolation, Student Affairs Deans are willing and able to provide daily check-ins for students who express this desire.
Students who live on-campus and test positive will only be moved to isolation housing if they currently share a bedroom with a roommate. If a student has a private room in a shared suite, they will be asked to quarantine in their room and wear a mask in shared spaces.
For students with no patient contact(no doctoring patient sessions, only classroom activities):
- You are required to isolate for 5 days from your positive test date. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your home and end your isolation. You must continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
- Isolating requires you to remain at home and separate yourself from others. If you cannot isolate from others inside your home, please wear a mask as much as possible.
- Do not schedule another PCR test unless instructed by a healthcare provider. PCR tests are extremely sensitive and can detect the virus even if you are no longer infectious. You will be exempt from weekly surveillance testing at BU for 90 days from your positive test date.
For students with patient contact- clinical students and students in doctoring who are seeing patients during their isolation period:
If you are a fully vaccinated healthcare provider and regularly provide in-person patient care, please schedule a test at a routine testing site on day 5 of your isolation. It may be a rapid antigen test or in person at a BU asymptomatic testing site. If this test is positive, please remain at home for an additional 5 days and do not get retested. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-public-health-guidance-and-directives#health-care-professionals-
All students need to take a picture of home positive rapid antigen test and upload. If positive from BU, nothing to do
Please note that if you tested positive outside of BU within the last 90 days, you are required to upload documentation to Patient Connect and you will be exempt from surveillance testing for 90 days after your positive test. To upload this documentation:
- Log into Patient Connect.
- Select the “Messages” option on the left-hand side.
- Click on “New Message.”
- Choose the first option, “COVID-19 (Coronavirus)” and click Continue.
- Choose “COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Testing and Results Upload.”
- Follow the instructions to upload your test results.
Additional Information-Please note quarantine guidelines and pdf
- If you tested positive for COVID-19 outside of BU, please upload your test result to your Patient Connect or Occupational Health portal and follow MDPH isolation guidelines. You will be exempt from surveillance testing for 90 days from your positive test date and should not test during this time period.
- If you are a close contact, please follow MDPH quarantine guidelines: COVID_CloseContactProtocol.pdf (bu.edu). Schedule a COVID-19 test 5 days after exposure. You are not required to call Healthway to disclose your status.
- The University booster mandate takes effect February 4th, or as soon as you are eligible. For more information about the booster mandate, including Moderna clinics, please review the Back2BU Booster site.
6. What do I do if I am a close contact of someone who has tested positive? An individual who is a close contact to someone who has tested positive will not be required to officially quarantine if the individual is vaccinated and has received a booster shot or is not yet eligible for the booster. Masking for a full 10 days is a critical component of these newer guidelines. [NEW 1/7/22]
7. If we are completely asymptomatic and get a positive COVID test result during the screening process, what is the implication for missed clinical rotation time and meeting requirements to graduate or be promoted to the next academic year? BUSM will work with students who are required to quarantine to mitigate disruption to your progress through the curriculum. If a student becomes ill, then this will be handled just as any other illness would be (e.g. students who are ill would not be expected to participate in a virtual learning experience). [Reviewed 8/13/21]
8. If I’m traveling out of Massachusetts, how does this impact the mandatory testing requirements? Students, upon arrival to campus, will be required to test and stay in place until one negative test result is received from the BU testing lab. This will take approximately 24 hours. If you are fully vaccinated and have uploaded your information to Patient Connect, you do not need to wait for a negative test to attend classes or University-sponsored events. Students can leave to get food or attend medical and COVID testing appointments, but cannot attend class or any BU-sponsored programming in person until the negative test is received. We encourage testing prior to coming to campus, but this will not satisfy or change the BU testing requirement. Students will then be required to test at their assigned cadence. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
9. How Do I Get Blackboard or Questrom Tools Reinstated? Students MUST complete a COVID test before they can be reinstated. There will be no exceptions to this policy.
Finally, students must email firstname.lastname@example.org in order to be reinstated. The staff at Healthway Help will verify the student’s compliance status and reinstate them as soon as possible.
PLEASE NOTE: The process to reinstate may take several hours depending on volume. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
10. Are students required to get a COVID-19 booster? All eligible students must receive their COVID-19 boosters and upload proof of the additional vaccination to Patient Connect by Friday, Feb. 4, to comply with BU’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Medical students can schedule a booster at BMC by selecting a date and time on this form. The clinic is located in the basement of the Dowling Building. Walk-in hours are M – F, 6:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Please bring your original vaccine card to the booster clinic. [NEW 1/7/22]
1. If I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the current situation, what resources are available to me? BU Student Health Services has made all of its Behavioral Health services available remotely, including workshops and support groups.
Additionally, Student Affairs Open Office Hours continue as usual, in person. Office hours are subject to change; please refer to the weekly Student Digest for the most up-to-date hours.
- Mondays @ 1-2 p.m. Dean Chen
- Tuesdays @ 12:00-1 p.m. Dean Sanchez
- Wednesdays @ 12-1 p.m. Dean Young
- Wednesdays @ 1-2 p.m. Dean Bryant
- Fridays @ 3-4 p.m. Dean Symes
All SA deans are available for scheduled appointments, as usual, via phone, in person, or Zoom. Just reach out directly to request a meeting (and remember, all emails for our Office can be found on our contacts page). We also invite you to reach out to other Student Affairs staff members for support.
Lastly, in the case of an emergency medical students can page the dean on duty by calling (617) 638-5795 and sending a page to #4196 or sending a text page to pager #4196 through the pager directory. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
Health & Safety
Please see section on BUSM Covid Testing for Q&A specific to the campus testing procedures.
1. If I have symptoms of an Influenza Like Illness (ILI), what should I do? Students experiencing symptoms should contact BU Healthway. Additional details regarding the screening process are included under the BUSM Covid Testing Q&A here. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
2. What can I do if I have concerns about improper PPE use by residents and fellows, such as not masking while in small workrooms with others, while I’m on rotations? We understand that addressing this directly with residents and fellows that are working with you can be uncomfortable for many students. If students observe any concerns about residents and fellows, including improper use of PPE, students can make an anonymous report at https://www.bmc.org/medical-professionals/graduate-medical-education-gme/violation-reporting. Students should continue to use ATM reporting for any concern about mistreatment. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
3. Is there a system in place to notify students if a patient they cared for turns out to be COVID positive? Hospital epidemiology is responsible for contact tracing and will reach out to members of healthcare teams, including medical students, who may have been exposed to a patient who is COVID positive.
At affiliated sites, we have asked sites to inform Dean Yellen if there has been a Covid exposure to a student so we can also be aware. However, public health tracing will also be required and in touch with all providers who meet the definition of exposure. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
4. Will surgical masks be available for students who may need to commute on public transportation? BUSM does not supply PPE outside of the school and hospital. Students in need of masks for public transit will need to purchase masks that will meet this need. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
5.What should I do if I, or a member of my household, is immunocompromised and there are concerns about needing to take public transit to a clinical site? Students with medical concerns should apply for accommodations. Information on getting started with this process is available on the Office of Enhancement’s website. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
6. What kinds of precautions are we expected to take as students and what precautions is the university taking? In general, we are following the guidance of the State of Massachusetts and the University. The types of precautions we are taking include:
- setting up physical spaces to promote distancing – making hallways and staircases one-way, “closing” or removing chairs or seats in enclosed rooms, limiting elevator loads;
- enhanced AND more frequent cleaning of shared spaces;
- personal hygiene promotion like required masks, hand sanitizer everywhere, avoiding sharing;
- signage reminding people of distancing, handwashing, hygiene practices;
- reducing the number of people on campus (everyone who can works from home, LfA); and
- establishing an on-campus lab for testing, and protocols for contact tracing and hot-spotting.
We expect that students will also follow state and university guidance, helping us to carry out the precautions we have described above. In addition, we are going to count on you to be rigorous with yourself about your health. Monitor your symptoms. Bring a thermometer with you. Get tested if you need to. Follow isolation precautions if you end up with the virus. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
7.What do I do if I can’t access an N95 from a scrub machine at BMC? You must be Fit Tested before receiving an N95 mask; it takes one week to be added from fit-testing. Students who must be re-fitted can find fit-testing sessions listed here.
N95 Machine Access Instructions
- Scan Badge on Reader
- Open door number displayed
- Retrieve mask from Compartment
Common Error Codes
- Badge Error 64: Mask size not in stock in the machine; try another machine and ensure that it’s one that dispenses the type of mask you are fitted for.
- Receiving a 12- or 13-digit number on the display: Provide that number in an email to DG-N95MaskRequest@bmc.org, as they will need to enter that number in their system to resolve the issue.
Zero Credits: May occur if you’ve already taken a mask for the day or if you opened the slot and no mask was dispensed due to the machine needing a refill. In this case, please call the transport office, and email DG-N95MaskRequest@bmc.org so that they can update your credits. Everyone receives 1 mask per day, and credits are updated at midnight.
*If an error code is displayed please take a picture of the error code and send along with mask type and BUID number to DG-N95MaskRequest@bmc.org. Please note that you must use your BMC email address to contact this address. BU email addresses may be rejected.
Initial resolution will likely include providing students with a PIN & Access code in lieu of using BUIDs to access the machines. If you continue to have issues accessing masks, please cc Pedro Falci (email@example.com) on communications for additional escalation and assistance.
If you received the wrong mask or need a mask for your shift, please call Transport at 617-414-5830 or go directly to the Transport Office located in the Menino basement to pick up a mask. Each user is allowed 1 credit (mask) per day. If the mask is soiled or broken, Transport can deliver another one. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
8.Will we have access to scrubs? Ob and Surgery students will have scrubs, but scrubs are not required in all areas. Students are limited to 1 credit on these rotations. If you are on another rotation where they don’t traditionally give scrubs and you need scrubs, or if you want access to more than 1 set of scrubs at a time on the Ob and Surgery rotations, it is recommended that students to buy a pair of scrubs, to ensure students aren’t coming in and unable to get scrubs from the machines.
If you don’t receive a credit back when returning your scrubs, please call (617) 414-5183 to speak with Linen Services. If the issue is not corrected over the phone, please email DG-LinenServices@bmc.org and copy your rotation coordinator so that they are aware of the issue. Please note that you must use your BMC email to contact Linen Services via email; BU email addresses may be rejected. [Reviewed 12/6/21]
Student Space, Forms & Resources
1. Where can I study on the BUSM Campus? Students can find available study space using the Medical Campus Study Space Finder. Masks and physical distancing are required on campus, including instructional and relaxation space. Food is not permitted in classrooms or library spaces. Students are allowed to drink beverages through a straw, inserted under their mask, while in classrooms. Students can pick up straws at the library front desk if they want to drink under their masks. L-11 is now a designated eating area as the weather turned colder due to the ability to social distance at long tables. It also is a space that does not risk the safety of staff members. Consistent with the rules for classrooms and other public spaces, L-12 and L-13 are not open for eating. Eating while alone in a classroom or study room is not permitted. [Updated 1/22/22]
2. Where can I get verification letters, transcripts or letters of recommendation? Students can request forms required by scholarships, fellowships, or other opportunities through the Office of the Registrar [Updated 11/8/21]
3. What hours is the library open? The current library hours are available on their website at https://www.bumc.bu.edu/medlib/about-us/hours/ [Reviewed 1/7/22]
4. Can I eat/drink in the library? Food and drink is now permitted in the library as of the week of March 7th, 2022. There are no designated spaces to eat/drink. Food and drink are still prohibited from classrooms. [New 3/7/2022]
5. Can I get card access to enter the Instructional Building from Harrison Avenue? No, the main entrance will remain the sole entry point for the Instructional Building, and the Harrison Avenue door will not be accessible via card swipe access. [New 4/14/2022]
Curriculum, Clinical Rotations, & Sites
Please see the Health & Safety section above for questions related to N95s and Scrubs.
1. I have a question specific to my own schedule (e.g. remediating content prior to promotion, LOA, gap year, modified curriculum, returning from dual-degree), who should I contact to determine how the changes will impact my schedule personally? Contact an assistant dean in Student Affairs to begin the conversation. You can email the office staff to schedule an appointment. Also consider using the daily Open Office Hours. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
2. How Do I Get Blackboard or Questrom Tools Reinstated? See information outlined here. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
3. What is the updated policy on shadowing?
- Students must register at least one week prior to their date of shadowing to ensure one site isn’t overbooked.
- Limit of 2 students per site, per day. If more than 2 students register to shadow at the same site, on the same day, they will be asked to select a new date.
- Students must have a green daily symptom badge on day of shadowing.
- Students must wear PPE at all times.
- Students must not access the medical record.
- Students are permitted to scrub in with approval from the physician they’ll be shadowing.
If you’re looking to shadow in a specific department but are unsure who to contact, please ask your Core Advisor for recommendations, or one of the Field Specific Advising Leads. [Reviewed 10/4/21]
4. What is the proper clinical attire? Many people on the wards are still opting to wear scrubs as their preference, but it not a recommendation, but individual preference. The hospital cannot provide scrubs for daily use for all student rotations. Students can purchase their own, for their daily use. The advice is that whether using scrubs or street clothes, change out of them upon returning home and place to wash. Leave shoes worn in the hospital at the doorway upon returning home.
As for your white coat – there are no longer formal recommendations. This is also personal preference. People are wearing white coats more often, including many of your SubI colleagues. (During the surge, white coats were actively discouraged, that is no longer the case). White coats are known to carry pathogens in the best of times. However, we know that COVID transmission from contaminated surfaces is low and the virus probably does not do well on fabrics. You should consider your need for the pockets, which can be helpful since you do not want to be setting things down on hard surfaces. Personal items – ID, pens, pagers, phones, wallets- should be disinfected when you get home. Amanda in Student Affairs can help if you want to purchase another white coat. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
5. If I’m completing a clinical rotation off campus, do I need to complete my COVID testing with Healthway? Students using classroom space as part of their rotation must test weekly. If your rotation is offsite or does not have you return to BUSM then you do not need to test weekly. Students should still be logging their daily symptom screen in Healthway, but will not be due for another COVID test until they are returning to BUSM campus. See the response in the General Questions section for additional details on testing. [Reviewed 8/13/21]
How Can I Help/Volunteer?
1. How can I help and volunteer during this time? In an effort to better coordinate and meet BMC’s current needs, all requests for student volunteers should be directed to Chad Cotter. There are many volunteer opportunities available to support the BMC faculty and staff. Note: the School’s administration is not included in the process of assigning students to activities. (We don’t know who is volunteering and who is not, to help ensure that you feel no pressure to volunteer).
Preclerkship (Class of 2025/Class of 2024)
Curriculum, Clinical Rotations, & Sites
1. The Class of 2024 did not have a blood lab session in the first year, will there be one before staring third year clerkships? Yes, the Transitional Clerkship will include a session on blood draws. [New 12/6/21]
2. Can we continue to have the option of remote exams in the Spring 2022 semester, given the surge in Covid? At this time, we will not be providing remote exams except for students who are Covid positive and are required to isolate. We are following the university’s guidelines which allow for students to come together masked in classroom settings. Students should wear tight fitting masks and the university will be proving students with KN-95’s during the week of 1/18/22. We will also distance students in the testing center since we have space to do so. [New 1/18/22]
Class of 2023
Please refer to the General Questions section for Q&A that pertain to all BUSM Students.
1.Will Shelf exams be remote or in person? Shelf exams will be delivered remotely and proctored via Zoom by the coordinators for each clerkship. [New 5/25/21]
Class of 2022
Please refer to the General Questions section for Q&A that pertain to all BUSM Students.
Curriculum, Clinical Rotations, & Sites
1. If I need to make up a third year clerkship in my fourth year, how many weeks will my clerkship be? The MEC voted at the January 2021 meeting that fourth year students who are making up clerkships in AY 21-22 will complete the full length of the clerkship. If the clerkship had a virtual curriculum in AY 20-21 that the student participated in, they will be given 2 weeks elective credit in addition to their clerkship credit. [New 1/15/2021]
2. Will we be able to do away rotations in AY 2021-2022 as 4th year students? BUSM will be adopting the recommendations of the AAMC. In summary:
- students will be allowed to do ONE away rotation in a given specialty
- away rotations start no earlier than Aug 1, 2021
- applications for aways should start no earlier than April 15.
The AAMC’s statement:
For the 2021-22 academic year, away rotations resume no earlier than August 1, 2021, with the following guidance:
- After April 15, learners may begin applying for and scheduling in-person away rotations with a start date of August 1, 2021, or later.
- Programs hosting learners for away rotations are encouraged to adhere to May 1 as the date to begin processing away rotation applications that begin on or after August 1.
- Given the compressed timeline paired with an inadequate quantity of electives available for completion, medical schools are encouraged to limit approved away rotations in any specialty to one per learner, except in cases where additional rotations are needed to complete graduation or accreditation requirements. Residency programs are encouraged to take into consideration if a learner exceeded the one away rotation limit during the residency selection process.
- Programs may continue to offer virtual electives to provide opportunities for learners to explore the specialty and program.
- The working group will continue to monitor the available information. We plan to provide an update to the community no later than April 15, 2021, either confirming that August 1 remains an acceptable start date, or creating a new start date.