Working with doctors Working for patients

How professional are medical students?

Web News

14 May 2015

At the end of last year, we ran a survey to find out more about the professional values of the UK’s medical students. Over 2,500 students took part to tell us what they thought.

We asked if students thought it was OK to dodge train fares when money was tight, if it was acceptable to go back to a patient’s home for a coffee, and if it was appropriate to complain about a lecture on Facebook. We also asked for views on raising concerns and patient safety.

Students have a good understanding of professionalism

Our new report brings together the responses we got. It shows that broadly, most students have an understanding of professionalism that matches what we would expect from future doctors. Also, we can be cautiously reassured by students’ views on raising concerns about patient safety and acting within their competence.

The report highlighted some very interesting themes.

  • Female students are more likely to view unprofessional behaviour as unacceptable than male students.
  • There is some variation by year of study – eg first year students are more likely to view buying prescription-only drugs online to aid study as unacceptable than those in other years.
  • More students think it is acceptable or mostly acceptable to dodge a train fare than it is to be critical of a lecture or lecturer on social media.

These are just a snapshot of the survey outcomes, which we expect to be of great interest to medical students and others involved with undergraduate education.

How will the report change the guidance we give to students?

We’re now working with the Medical Schools Council to review the guidance we give to medical students and medical schools on fitness to practise and professionalism.
We want to deliver guidance that supports students to understand the professional standards expected of them, both now and as a doctor. We’ll use the student survey report, along with feedback from medical schools and others, to help draft new guidance, which we will then be consulting on, later this year.

Find out more

Read our Student professionalism report in full.