Correct identification of medical students in clinical placement settings

Medical students need to gain in-work experience, however the ability of other staff to correctly identify their status and understand their level of competence is vital for patient safety.

In this case study we visited to the Royal Preston Hospital to look at how they have approached this challenge.

What is the initiative?

During our regional visit to the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2013, we noted that students in years 3 to 5 from Manchester Medical School are given grey scrubs with the university's crest on them. The students wear these outfits when they are on the wards and this helps the staff know what their competence levels are as they are not mistaken for doctors in training.

How does it help?

This initiative ensures patient safety by allowing staff on wards to identify students and therefore understand their expected level of competence and give appropriate clinical supervision.

However, it is worth noting that there have been occasions when students were mistaken for cleaners or nurses and patients were hesitant to ask them for help. This was highlighted in the annual sector review report for the trust by Manchester Medical School in June 2012.

I want to learn more

For further information, contact Susan Maxwell at

Who is this page for?
This case study is relevant to anyone in medical schools who has to consider how medical students are deployed in the workplace.
Why might this page help you?
This case study considers how medical students can be placed safety and effectively in the workplace.