Medical Withdrawal: How and why students temporarily leave for medical emergencies

Jessica May

Courtesy of the Office of the Dean of Students.

UNF gives students peace of mind when it comes to leaving school for medical emergencies, according to the Office of the Dean of Students.

Through the office, students can take themselves out of their classes for medical purposes without facing the financial and academic burdens associated with traditionally withdrawing from classes.

According to the office of the Dean of Students website, medical withdrawal is intended to help students who are in an acute and often crisis situations in the middle of the semester. Someone with mental or physical health issues that inflict on their ability to complete their classes would be eligible for a medical withdrawal, given they have proper documents.

Before filling out the application, students should have consulted their professors to discuss any options before withdrawing from the course. If there are no options to recover, then the student may consider withdrawing using the established withdrawal process. Depending on the time in the semester a student chooses to withdraw, the student may want to look into getting an “Incomplete” grade, which works if the student has a passing grade. This allows the student to be able to successfully complete the course later.

It is reportedly very important to UNF that students are put in the best possible position to be well again. If students need to go home to seek medical attention, they should.

“It is extremely important for students to seek treatments when they believe they are sick or believe they are starting to struggle with mental health. Maybe their anxiety is increasing on them or maybe they’re struggling with depression,” Andrea Adams-Manning, the Assistant Dean of Students and Ombuds said. “The worst thing they can do is hunker down in their room and sleep. They may be severely suffering from depression or anxiety or some mental health disorder, but unless we can have a doctor document that form, we can not approve a medical withdrawal.”

Students have up to six months after the last day of the semester to go back and file for a medical withdrawal, given they have all the proper documents. They must provide a “Guidance for Physician’s Letter,” which covers why the student is not able to complete coursework for the semester. They must also provide documentation verifying the student received treatment following the withdrawal.

Students can also seek help through the UNF Counseling Center, which is a free and confidential service. It could be a preventive measure before getting to the point where a student seems so overwhelmed or depressed they need to leave.

Sam Chaney
The UNF Counseling Center.

“We really encourage students to use the Counseling Center,” Adams-Manning explained. “Get in immediately when they start noticing they need some assistance because the more they can do in terms of understanding their condition and accepting that and learning strategies to overcome their symptoms or getting medication, if their okay with that, the better the recovery will be and hopefully they can maintain without having to do a medical withdrawal.”

UNF also provides a service for students, staff and faculty members who feel as if a student should seek help. Supporting Our Students, or SOS, is a service where you can submit a referral online if you have any concerns for a particular student.

“If a student, staff or faculty member begins to notice a student struggling, then we strongly encourage them to fill out an SOS report online because it comes straight to our office,” Elizabeth Arflin, the Assistant Director in the Office of the Dean of Students said. “Then we can provide additional resources and information to those students who are struggling. Oftentimes I determine maybe we should recommend a medical withdrawal and the student just wasn’t aware of it. So we can all help our community by making sure we alert the right people.”

There are, however, some downfalls to medically withdrawing from classes. Although you do get money back for tuition fees, any book voucher or additional financial aid are taken out would be owed. Students also will not march credit for the courses they withdrawal from.

Medical withdrawal is not intended for students with an indirect crisis, such as a relative becoming ill or natural disaster. Someone in this situation could see a fee petition or a student petition of academic forgiveness.

More information on medical withdrawals can be found here.

The UNF Office of the Dean of Students is located in Bldg. 57, Suite 2700 and can be reached at (904) 620-1491

The UNF Counseling Center is located in Bldg. 2, Rm. 2300 and can be reached at (904) 620-2602

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