Achieving good medical practice: guidance for medical students

Professionalism - key areas of concern

Behaviour outside of medical school

Medical students need to behave professionally outside of work and medical school. This means you should avoid doing things that will undermine the confidence patients have in doctors and the public has in the medical profession.

For example, you shouldn't make discriminatory comments about individuals or groups of people in public or on social media. Your medical school will take action if you do something unprofessional, such as get a caution for drunken behaviour, even if it happened outside of the medical school or over the summer holidays. This means you should take responsibility for your actions and be aware that they may have a wider impact on how your medical school views your professionalism.

  1. A medical student's behaviour must justify the confidence that patients and the public have in them. Examples of unprofessional behaviour that would be a cause for concern are listed below. Some of these examples apply to the medical school environment, but it's important to remember that you need to behave professionally outside your medical school too. Unprofessional behaviour over a number of different areas, or repeated or persistent unprofessional behaviour, could lead to fitness to practise proceedings. It's important to note that this list is not exhaustive.

Persistent inappropriate attitude or behaviour

  • Uncommitted to work or a lack of engagement with training, programme of study or clinical placements
  • Neglect of administrative tasks
  • Poor time management
  • Non-attendance
  • Poor communication skills
  • Failure to accept and follow educational advice and unwillingness to learn from feedback given by others
  • Being rude to patients, colleagues or others
  • Unwillingness to learn from constructive feedback given by others
  • Being disruptive in teaching sessions or the training environment
  • Challenging behaviour towards clinical teachers or not accepting criticism
  • Failing to answer or respond to communications

Failing to demonstrate good medical practice

  • Misuse of social media, such as criticising placement providers
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Misleading patients about their care or treatment
  • Culpable involvement in a failure to obtain proper consent from a patient
  • Sexual, racial or other forms of harassment or bullying
  • Inappropriate examinations or failure to keep appropriate boundaries in behaviour
  • Unlawful discrimination

Misconduct and health conditions relating to drug or alcohol use

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Misuse of prescription medication
  • Alcohol consumption that affects clinical work, the work environment, or performance in the educational environment
  • Drug use that affects clinical work, the work environment, or performance in the educational environment - this may include legal highs
  • Dealing, possessing or supplying drugs, even if there are no legal proceedings
  • A pattern of excessive alcohol use

Cheating or plagiarising

  • Cheating in examinations
  • Signing peers into taught sessions from which they are absent
  • Passing off the work of others as your own
  • Sharing with fellow students or others, details of questions or tasks from exams you have taken
  • Forging a supervisor's name or falsifying feedback on assessments, logbooks or portfolios

Dishonesty or fraud, including dishonesty outside the professional role

  • Falsifying research
  • Committing financial fraud
  • Creating fraudulent CVs or other documents
  • Misrepresentation of qualifications
  • Falsifying signatures on documents such as portfolios
  • Failure to declare relevant misconduct issues or health conditions to your medical school or university
  • Wilful withholding or misrepresentation of health conditions (for example, blood-borne viruses)

Aggressive, violent or threatening behaviour

  • Assault
  • Physical violence
  • Bullying
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Online bullying or trolling

Any caution or conviction

  • Possessing, dealing or supplying illegal drugs
  • Theft
  • Physical violence
  • Fare avoidance
  • Financial fraud
  • Child pornography
  • Child abuse or any other abuse
  • Sexual offences