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 of Student Health Services.
Covid Guidelines, Screening, Testing, Quarantine, Vaccines & Boosters
1. What are the current Massachusetts COVID-19 Guidelines? MA State requirements can be viewed on MA.gov [Reviewed 6/3/22].
2. What are BU’s current COVID-19 Guidelines? BUSM’s COVID related protocols as of May 2022 were communicated to the BU Community on April 29th, 2022, by Dr. Judy Platt, MD, Chief Health Officer and Executive Director of Student Health Services, and can be viewed here. [NEW 6/3/22]
3. What are BU’s current COVID-19 Vaccine Policies?
“We will continue to require that all BU community members be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes a primary vaccination series as well as a single booster dose, within the appropriate timeframe.” Communicated by Dr. Judy Platt, MD, in community message on April 29th, 2022. All eligible students must receive their COVID-19 boosters and upload proof of the additional vaccination to Patient Connect 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. Please bring your original vaccine card to the booster clinic. [Updated 6/30/22]
4. What process should I follow for getting COVID testing?
As of May 23, 2022, BU no longer offers asymptomatic testing. Students should NOT contact BMC’s Working Well Clinic regarding COVID related concerns, including testing.
Symptomatic testing is still available on the Charles River Campus through Student Health Services.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please contact a nurse through Patient Connect or call Student Health Services at 617-353-3575.
To schedule a symptomatic test through SHS, log onto Patient Connect > Messages > Primary Care > “Ask a Nurse” .
BUMC Students can also receive testing at Boston Medical Center’s Influenza Like Illness (ILI) Clinic: 801 Mass Ave, Crosstown Building, First Floor from 8:30 a.m.- 3:00pm Mondays-Fridays
ILI Clinic Process:
- Go to the ILI Clinic, which sees walk-ins only; no appointments or referrals needed. Please do not call the ILI Clinic.
- Provide insurance information and insurance will be billed.
- Results will be available only to the student via MyChart. The student also will receive a phone call from the ILI Clinic with results within two days. (Note: Students are encouraged to sign up for MyChart in order to receive their results more quickly.)
- It is the student’s responsibility to inform BU SHS of their test result.
- Recommendations for quarantine, return to class/clinical rotations will be recommended by SHS, not the ILI Clinic providers, as policies differ. It is the student’s responsibility to follow all BU SHS guidance and BU- posted policies and instructions.
5. Are COVID tests covered by insurance? Symptomatic 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 6/3/22]
6. What happens if I get a positive test result? If you test positive, you need to report the result to Patient Connect via secure message.
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 learning experience).
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.
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.
- If you are a close contact, please follow MDPH quarantine guidelines. We recommend scheduling a COVID-19 test 5 days after exposure.
7. 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 recommend. [Updated 6/3/22]
1. How do I get a Primary Care Physician? Students’ best options for accessing primary care is to go through either Student Health Services or through Boston Medical Center.
- Student Health Services
- Appointments can be made either by calling Student Health Services (617-353-3575) or scheduling through the Patient Connect Portal. If you need an appointment soon, calling their office will be your best option.
- Boston Medical Center
- If you would like to have a primary care physician here at BMC, you can choose to have your care at either one of two sites — Family Medicine (11 Melnea Case Blvd) or Internal Medicine (801 Massachusetts Avenue).
- Take a look at this list of both Internal and Family Medicine practitioners who are accepting new patients at BMC.
- To establish care at BMC and schedule an appointment, call the Call Center: 617- 414-5951 (General Internal Medicine) or 617-414-2080 (Family Medicine). You should have your insurance information available when you call.
- If you need an non-emergency, but urgent care appointment, you can call the Internal Medicine clinic (617) 414-5951 and ask to be set up for an urgent care appointment. Please identify yourself as a current BU Medical Student and the offices will do their best to accommodate you for an appointment.
- You can request a specific provider by name, or characteristics — male, female, Spanish speaking, etc., — or simply the next available appointment, depending on your needs. The person answering will do the pre-registration and help you navigate your insurance plan issues.
It is recommended for all students to sign up with a PCP and establish care.
2. 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 @ 12-1 p.m. Dean Sanchez
- Wednesdays @ 12-1 p.m. Dean Young
- Thursdays @ 1-2 p.m. Dean Curran
- Fridays @12-1 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 6/14/21]
Health & Safety
Please see section on BUSM Covid Testing for Q&A specific to the campus testing procedures.
1. If I am going to be out for illness or planned absences, who do I notify? Students should notify their course, module or clerkship director as far in advance as possible. Please review the Attendance and Time Off Policy here. [Updated 8/5/22]
2. If I have symptoms of an Influenza Like Illness (ILI), what should I do? Students experiencing symptoms should contact Student Health Services via Patient Connect. [Updated 6/3/22]
3. 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 6/3/22]
4. 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 6/3/22]
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 Enhancement Office’s website. [Reviewed 6/3/22]
6. 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 Nichole Ciccarelli (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. [Updated 6/3/22]
7.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. [Updated 6/3/22]
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. [Updated 6/3/22]
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 [Reviewed 6/3/21]
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 6/3/22]
4. 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. [Reviewed 6/3/22]
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 6/3/22]
2. What is the policy on shadowing?
We know shadowing opportunities can be very useful for career exploration. Some of the best ways of identifying faculty to shadow are by exploring the Career Interest Groups and talking to student leaders, using Field Specific Advisor Leads as resources to help you find faculty, talking to upperclassmen who have travelled before you, and by visiting the BUSM alumni webpage.
Please follow these guidelines once you’ve contacted the physician you’d like to shadow and agreed on a date.
- Students must register at least one week prior to their date of shadowing.
- Students must wear PPE at all times, based on BMC protocol.
- Students should not access the medical record.
- Students are permitted to scrub in with approval from the physician they will be shadowing. If student is not formally trained in scrubbing, it is up to the faculty to instruct.
- Shadowing activities at not at BMC or at a non-BUSM affiliated site are not covered by BUSM liability insurance. Students must be registered using the link above to qualify for liability coverage
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.
3. 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.
Wearing your white coat is also personal preference. 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. [Updated 6/3/22]