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Accommodations for Religious Beliefs, Practices, and Observances

Policy Statement

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center acknowledges the diversity of its students and respects the rights of students to observe their religious beliefs and practices. UTHSC will endeavor to provide reasonable accommodations relating to religious beliefs and practices in response to a formal written student request. However, accommodations cannot be guaranteed in instances where such would create an undue burden on faculty, a disproportionate negative effect on other students who are participating in the scheduled educational activity, or jeopardize patient care.


Students beginning new programs or courses of study in a particular college will be advised by that college as to college-, program- or course-specific procedures that should be followed to obtain an accommodation for religious practices or observances. Students are encouraged to be proactive in reviewing college-, program- and course-specific assignments/activities in advance of matriculation/registration to determine whether these requirements might in some way conflict with their religious beliefs, practices or observances. Should such conflicts be in evidence, students should discuss possible options with the appropriate college official or faculty member. Reasonable accommodations may not be feasible in instances where there is a direct and insurmountable conflict between religious beliefs or observances and requirements of a given program.

It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements with the course instructor or clerkship/experiential director as soon as possible, but no less than 30 days in advance of the religious holiday during which the student is requesting to be absent. It is also the student’s responsibility to meet all course obligations. Such requests are required for any and all educational activities scheduled for the date(s) in question, e.g. classroom exercises, laboratory assignments, exams, clinical/experiential assignments, etc. Finally, students are obligated to abide by the policies and procedures on religious practices and observances of any given patient-care institution (i.e., hospital, clinical setting) in which they are completing a portion of their educational experience. If a potential conflict between a student’s religious beliefs, practices or observations and institutional policy is identified, the student is to bring such to the attention of the clerkship/experiential director as soon as possible.

It is the course instructor or clerkship/experiential director’s responsibility to negotiate with a student the parameters of reasonable accommodations. The accommodations should be no more difficult than the originally scheduled activity or assignment. Instructors or experiential directors are not obligated to provide materials or experiences to students that would not normally be provided to all other students. In the event a student and instructor or clerkship/experiential director cannot reach an agreement regarding reasonable accommodations, the student may request a review of the request by a designated college official. The decision of the designated college official will be final.

May 26, 2022