Professional behaviour and fitness to practise

The GMC’s role in promoting professionalism and fitness to practise

  1. The GMC helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and doctors. The Medical Act 1983 (as amended) makes it clear that public protection is the overarching objective of the GMC and that this involves:
    • protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of the public
    • promoting and maintaining public confidence in the medical profession
    • promoting and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct for members of that profession.
  2. The standards of professional behaviour expected of registered doctors are set out in Good medical practice and the standards of professional behaviour expected of medical students are outlined in Achieving good medical practice: guidance for medical students.
  3. There are differences between the standards expected of medical students and those expected of registered doctors. But medical students are the doctors of tomorrow and, as such, there are many similarities between the behaviour expected of them at medical school and that expected of registered doctors.
  4. This guidance aligns with the requirements of Good medical practice and, wherever possible, the GMC’s test of fitness to practise for doctors who apply to join the register and its fitness to practise procedures for registered doctors.
  5. Awareness and education are key to making sure, from the beginning of their courses, all medical students are familiar with the standards of professional and personal behaviour expected of them and the values that underpin these standards. Medical schools should also understand that students who come to study in the UK from overseas might need additional support to understand some of the cultural aspects of working and studying in the UK.
  6. As well as it being important for students to behave in a way that demonstrates professional values, it’s equally important for medical schools to actively promote an open and transparent culture that embeds these values.