Using an External E-mail Account

Your UCSF e-mail account is official

We consider your UCSF e-mail address to be the official method for us to reach you by e-mail, even if we happen to have your external e-mail address on file.

Don’t provide outside e-mail services with UCSF e-mail settings

Although it’s possible to configure an external, web-based e-mail account such as Gmail with UCSF e-mail settings so that e-mail from your UCSF e-mail account appears in that account, this is prohibited for students in the School of Pharmacy.

As a health sciences professional, the responsibility for protecting confidential information lies individually with you and the choices you make when handling data as a pharmacy student.

The School forbids this practice because:

  1. exposing confidential patient or research data violates federal and state laws and University policy.
  2. the risk of exposing confidential patient or research data is too great.
  3. it opens you to potential financial liabilities.
  4. it opens the University to the risk of privacy violations.

Scenario: using Gmail to check UCSF e-mail

Let’s say you configured your Gmail account to connect to your UCSF e-mail account. You can now check your UCSF e-mail in the same window as your Gmail—very convenient. Then, a colleague of yours happens to send unencrypted confidential information to your UCSF e-mail address. Upon receipt of that message at Google’s servers, you would have likely violated federal and state laws and University policy because Google was not authorized to have access to the data. It doesn’t matter if Google says that they’ll keep your data secure. What matters is if you can legally bind them to the same information security requirements, and you cannot.

What are the penalties?

If applicable:

  1. you’ll be held personally liable—up to $250,000 per violation.
  2. disciplinary action will be taken which could affect your ability to graduate in a timely manner.
  3. the licensing board could revoke or refuse to grant your license to practice.

Other reasons

Here are some other reasons why you should avoid this practice:

  1. You can’t use the UCSF address book. Outlook and Webmail provide an integrated address book that enables you to easily look up contact information for people you study and work with.
  2. You can’t send messages to our academic mailing lists. If you send a message from a non-UCSF email account to our LISTSERV mailing lists, it is automatically deleted. You can send messages to our mailing lists from only your UCSF email account.
  3. You can’t send e-mail securely. External mail systems do not work with the UCSF Secure E-mail system. To send a secure message, log in to your UCSF e-mail account and send the message with Secure: on the subject line.

Configuring a mobile device is okay

Adding UCSF e-mail settings to your mobile device is generally okay and not the same as providing an external, web-based e-mail service such as Gmail or Yahoo! Mail with your UCSF e-mail settings. The mobile device is under your control, and typically no third party gains access to the e-mails you send or receive.

To further protect confidential data on your mobile device, choose one with hardware encryption and ensure that a password is set.


Contact us.


Go to: E-mail Policy