Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Doctor's Notes for School and Work

What is it with teachers and employers requiring doctor's notes? It is a silly requirement that wastes a lot of everyone's time. This has become one of my pet peeves.

I work at a university. The students are paying to come here and get an education. They are responsible for their own learning. This includes, in my mind, deciding whether and when they'll go to class. If they decide that they'll get more out of reading the book than attending the lecture, that's their choice. I had a classmate in medical school that showed up only for exams (no classes) the first two years. He is now a successful physician. If students get sick and decide they need to stay home and rest, more power to them. That's probably where they belong. Home resting, letting their body heal.

When a teacher requires attendance, she is deciding for the students that the class is worth their time, every time. When she requires a doctor's excuse for absences due to illness, she is making a decision for this adult as to when they need to go see a doctor. Sometimes all a person needs is a few days in bed. Not a visit to the clinic, not a doctor to confirm that yes, in fact, they have a cold, or a stomach virus. Many of our patients know this. They get sick, they go to bed. But then, because their teacher requires a note, they come in to the clinic, wait with all the sick people (possibly catching a new germ in the process), then waste their time and ours telling us they were sick and stayed home and asking for a note. The next time they get a cold, they'll come right in, knowing they'll need a note. It sets up a pattern of unnecessary office visits and contributes to the culture of dependent patients who think they need a doctor for every little sniffle.

It's ludicrous. In my humble opinion.


Anonymous said...

For the most part I agree. I many cases, attendance is not all that necessary. However, I teach applied, hands-on courses. The only way a student's work can be assessed is through attendance and participation. In fact, classes are so small and participants depend on one another for the final product. (music). So, yes I agree, but certainly not for all students.


Peg Spencer said...

LD- I'm not advocating ditching class. I understand that some classes really require a student's presence if they are to learn. My complaint is that teachers don't trust students to know when they're sick enough to stay home, and require them to come see a doctor to excuse their absence. Teachers are making a health decision - when a student needs to see a doctor. That call should be left to the student, and students should be treated like adults who know when they should be in bed. Most of the time they don't need to see a doctor, except to get an excuse, which is not a medical reason.

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