Risk factors at medical school for subsequent professional misconduct

What were the key findings?

We commissioned a multi-centre, case-control study led by Nottingham University to investigate whether there is a link between proven professional misconduct, perhaps years after graduation, and that doctor's undergraduate career.

This study builds upon findings from a pilot study that suggested that doctors who had proven professional misconduct had experienced difficulties whilst undergraduates. The team examined enquiries about doctors, who had graduated from eight different medical schools, that were investigated between 1999 and 2004 and controls chosen at random from their graduation cohorts at medical school.

The findings suggest that factors such as being male, coming from a lower socioeconomic background, and having failed early course examinations were independent predictors of later professional misconduct suggesting that pastoral care may need to be targeted closely to provide additional support to these students, and to explore attitudinal as well as academic aspects of failure.

Findings from this study should be interpreted with caution as the numbers were small-larger scale investigations are needed in order for these findings to be applied more generally.

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