Student Affairs Resource Website

Pregnancy and Parenting FAQ

What should I do if I am planning to get pregnant?

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, be sure to check out these resources:

  • The UWSOM Resources for Pregnant and Parenting Students brochure.
  • Check out past “Maybe a Baby” panels. Students, their partners, and others offer advice on a multitude of important issues to consider with regards to being pregnant and parenting during medical training.
  • Consult counseling services or the dean’s office.

What should I do when I become pregnant?

The UWSOM is here to help you with your next steps. These should include:

  • Discussing personal and curricular plans with your Foundations dean.
  • Exploring childcare options and other forms of support.
  • Connecting with Disability Resources for Students (DRS) to discuss any necessary accommodations with classes/clerkships if your pregnancy involves some medical complications that impact one or more of your major life functions.

When is a good time to become pregnant during medical school?

There are “better” windows in terms of timing, but the UWSOM will be supportive regardless of when a pregnancy occurs. Pregnancy may require flexibility in your plans and even curricular expansion. Some things to consider include the timing of Step 1 and Step 2, as well as financial considerations.

What if I have pregnancy complications or other extenuating circumstances?

Meeting with DRS early in your pregnancy facilitates implementation of necessary accommodations for complications or extenuating circumstances. You may also take a leave of absence.

Can I stay in one location for my entire clerkship experience to ensure being with my child?

We are a regional medical school with a regional focus on training opportunities. Every student is required to complete 8 weeks in Seattle and is expected to spend 24 weeks at WWAMI sites. However, students are free to trade clerkships with other students to increase their time in one location. If you are unable to travel, you should reach out to DRS.

How will my clerkship scheduling be handled?

There are processes to minimize travel given extenuating circumstances, and pregnancy and breastfeeding fall into this category. To optimize time in one location, students can apply to TRACK programs, Greater Seattle Option (GSO), or Olympia Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC). Students should indicate in the clerkship scheduling survey their reasons for requesting time in one site beyond 24 weeks. DRS may require a student to be accommodated in one location for a longer duration, but otherwise, requests are met based on clerkship availability and capacity. Students can also consider expanding their fourth year or taking “lighter” electives.

If a particular clerkship has multiple sites, can I be assigned to a site that is closer to home or can my commute time be factored into the clerkship hours?

Sites are assigned by individual clerkship departments. You are encouraged to contact the clerkship coordinator as soon as you receive your assignment to ask for any possible changes. While we understand that some sites are located farther away and appreciate that a longer commute requires extra effort on the student’s part, commute time cannot be factored into clerkship duty hours.

What can I expect about clerkship work conditions, such as work hours and call?

Some clerkships require that students take call, and unfortunately, we cannot make restrictions about work hours other than those detailed in the UWSOM Student Hours policy linked here. However, all students on call should always be provided with a call room. In the event there is no call room available, students will be excused from call.

Can I have my clerkship hours reduced while I’m pregnant and/or while my child is small?

We encourage you to check with the clerkship administrators in advance of your clerkship start date to determine whether there are other scheduling options available to optimize your training in a manner that best meets your needs; however, there is no guarantee of accommodation other than that dictated by DRS and your physician. Students may want to consider a leave of absence. Students will always be supported should they choose this option, and can return when they feel they are able to fully engage in and take advantage of their educational experience.

What can I expect with regard to breaks, such as for restroom visits and snack/food needs?

Students will be given, at a minimum, 30-minute breaks every 3 hours for restroom needs, or as otherwise mandated by DRS. Only DRS, in conjunction with your physician, can dictate food breaks at specific intervals. Otherwise, we suggest that you carry a stash of convenient snacks such as granola bars, fruit, juice, etc.

How does the UWSOM support breastfeeding?

Lactation is supported through the first year of the child’s life, which is the American Academy of Pediatrics’ minimum recommendation. If their schedule makes it feasible, students may take a leave of absence if they choose to extend breastfeeding beyond 1 year. Students will be given, at a minimum, 30-minute breaks every 3 hours for breastfeeding, or as otherwise mandated by DRS, to maintain milk supply and prevent discomfort. When a student who is breastfeeding must take a timed exam, breaks for nursing should be allowed. Furthermore, the total time of the exam should be appropriately adjusted, in correlation to the breaks taken, to afford the student the full time allotted to all students for the exam.

Where are the lactation rooms at the Foundation sites?

Lactation support at each campus is as follows:

  • WA – Seattle: Campus lactation stations are listed here.
  • WA – Spokane: Campus lactation stations are listed here. In addition, there is a lactation room located on the lower level of the Schoenberg Center (800 N Pearl, Spokane 99202).
  • WY – Laramie: Campus lactation stations are listed here.
  • AK – Anchorage: Visit Support for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Parents
  • MT – Bozeman: Campus lactation rooms are listed here or contact Megan Young, MSU Student Family Support Advocate, at 406.994.4368 or
  • ID – Moscow: Campus lactation stations are listed here.

How is lactation supported in the clinical phase?

Clerkships are responsible for providing accommodations as lactation falls under Title IX expectations. Lactation room amenities vary; however, you should have access to a lockable private room that contains a chair and table. You should not have to pump in a bathroom. Notify the site director if accommodations are not adequate. You can also reach out to Melinda Frank, Director of the Learning Environment, or Dr. Gerald Tolbert, Interim Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Breastfeeding students should be afforded regular breaks, at least every three hours.

What if breastfeeding or other needs, such as having a place to rest, don’t seem to be properly supported at a clerkship?

You should never feel alone in navigating clerkships. You should also not have to feel that your grade will be impacted by speaking up. If you feel you aren’t being properly supported, contact Melinda Frank, Director of the Learning Environment, or Dr. Gerald Tolbert, Interim Associate Dean for Student Affairs, immediately.

How can I work with clerkship sites prior to the start dates so I can plan around my schedule for childcare needs and other requirements?

Students should inform their clerkships ahead of time about their pregnancy or the fact that they have small children and ask to be given the schedule as soon as it is available. We encourage clerkships to release the schedule as soon as possible; however, the amount of notice you will be given varies and can be minimal. Like any planned absence from a clerkship, student should communicate in advance any planned doctor visits, any DRS accommodations, and partner absences.

What if clerkship expectations, including hours, locations, housing, etc., are not feasible for my childcare needs and the 6-week drop deadline has passed?

If you have extenuating circumstances that make the clerkship schedule unfeasible but you have already missed the 6-week drop deadline, contact Dr. Gerald Tolbert, Interim Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

How can I learn if a clerkship site has family friendly housing?

Housing for students is provided by the individual clerkship departments, and the housing provided may range from single units to larger units accommodating multiple students. Some sites don’t have family friendly housing. The registrar’s office does not have information about the type of housing at each location. To determine if a particular site is suitable for your needs, contact the clerkship coordinator, ideally prior to clerkship scheduling season, to determine if that clerkship site can accommodate a family. The UWSOM does not reimburse students for private housing.

How can I learn about childcare resources? How early do I need to begin looking for childcare, day care, etc.

We suggest you research your options as soon as you become pregnant or, if you are planning for pregnancy, even prior. Many childcare centers have very long waiting lists, so the earlier the better.

  • WA – Seattle: Click here for UW childcare resources.
  • WA – Spokane: Gonzaga does not offer childcare resources.
  • WY – Laramie: Click here for UWY childcare resources and here for UWY-associated community childcare resources.
  • AK – Anchorage: UAA does not have a childcare center either on or affiliated with campus. The Municipality of Anchorage’s Community and Family Health Division and Thread: Commenting Early Care and Education to Alaska offer resources for families seeking childcare in the Anchorage area.
  • MT – Bozeman: Click here for MSU childcare resources.
  • ID – Moscow: Click here for UID childcare resources.

Does the UWSOM subsidize or facilitate placement in UW childcare centers?

While we understand that tuition expenses are burdensome and work hours are long, the school cannot subsidize, facilitate or manage placement of dependents at UW childcare centers, day care, adult homes, or nursing home placement, etc. The Childcare Assistance Program is designed to assist UW Seattle campus students in covering the costs of licensed childcare for their children (ages birth–12 years old) while enrolled in an eligible program of study. For more information visit here. Financial aid can be adjusted to cover family housing expenses.

How can I keep informed about childcare and parenting resources?

UWHR Work-Life created the listserv to make it easier to communicate with UW employee and student parents. This a moderated list and can be used to share UW resources and programs. Subscribers can send messages to be shared with the group but please note that only businesses that have formal agreements with the University can be promoted through the listserv.

Subscribe to (NetID required).

How will a leave of absence impact my residency application process? Do residency programs penalize students who take time off during their third year of medical school to give birth or for other extenuating reasons?

A leave of absence is always available to you. While the UWSOM cannot influence residency programs one way or the other, career advisors and mentors help students prepare for interviews and personal statements, including how to address leaves of absences and other interruptions in their education.

What are the financial implications of taking a leave of absence?

It is important to meet with Diane Noecker, Director of Financial Aid, to discuss financial implications. A leave of absence could impact grace periods on loans and affiliations with WWAMI partners for the duration of medical school coverage. Be aware that you may accrue additional debt for tuition, housing, childcare expenses, etc.

Can my tuition be prorated if I need to take a leave of absence mid-quarter?

The answer depends on whether you are in the Foundations Phase or the Clinical Phase. For students in the Foundations phase, taking a leave of absence mid-quarter will likely result in a forfeiture of any tuition paid. More detailed information can be found on the Student Fiscal Services website.

Students in the Clinical Phase might receive a prorated adjustment to tuition if they have not already begun a clerkship that is scheduled mid-quarter and they drop below a certain amount of registered credits. Keep in mind that changes to course load as well as leaves of absences can affect financial aid, including the possibility of having to pay back a portion of it or even losing aid entirely. Students should talk with Registration and Financial Aid to discuss their specific situation.

Can I receive free help with financial planning?

While UWSOM does not offer free help with financial planning, the Financial Aid office is a great resource for discussing aid options.

Will I be allowed time off when my spouse/partner delivers our newborn?

Per the UWSOM absence policy, all students are granted 2 days off for anticipated absences. Policies for making up missed time beyond this vary depending on the clerkship. Students can always take a leave of absence between clerkships.

What family-oriented events are offered?

The UWSOM occasionally offers family-oriented events. These will be announced by Counseling and Wellness Services and, occasionally, other departments.

Who can I talk with if I’m feeling overwhelmed?

The most important thing is the health of you and your baby. If you feel overwhelmed or even just discouraged, the UWSOM counselors can provide free and confidential services. Visit Counseling and Wellness Services for contacts.