Working with doctors Working for patients

Considering health and disability issues


  1. 33. In most cases, health conditions and disabilities do not affect a medical student’s fitness to practise, as long as the student:
  • demonstrates appropriate insight
  • seeks appropriate medical advice
  • complies with treatment.

Reasonable adjustments

  1. 34. Medical schools must make adjustments, where possible, to allow a student to fulfil the core competencies of their course and enable them to study and work safely in a clinical environment.
  2. You can find more detail on how medical schools can make reasonable adjustments, as well as examples of adjustments other medical schools have made, in the GMC’s Gateways to the professions guidance.

Support and medical advice

  1. 35. All students should register with a local general practitioner (GP), who will be able to offer them independent support and continuity of care while they are at medical school. Educational supervisors, who are involved in teaching a student, should not also be involved in providing their healthcare or occupational health assessments.
  2. 36. A GP or medical doctor who treats a student should not also be involved in occupational health assessments of fitness to practise, because this is a conflict of interest with their role as a therapeutic advocate. Similarly, occupational physicians are contractually obliged to give independent assessments of fitness to practise, so can’t also provide medical treatment services.

Underlying health issues

  1. 37. Students with health conditions – in particular, those with mental health conditions – are often identified as having problems because they display unprofessional behaviour that is out of character, such as poor attendance or failure to engage with their studies. Medical schools should give their staff training to help them identify, at an early stage, students whose behaviour indicates an underlying health issue.

Identifying concerns and fitness to study

  1. 38. Medical schools can use low-level concerns processes to identify and support students with health conditions. They can also use their fitness to practise procedures where making adjustments and providing support have been tried without success. The fitness to practise process can help students by making sure they access the support that will enable them to complete their course.
  2. 39. When a student has a medical problem, it’s important to consider their fitness to study – whether they are well enough to participate and engage in their programme. The Higher Education Occupational Physicians group publishes fitness to train standards for medical students on its website.