A culture of support - what general initiatives are needed
While tailored support specific to an individual is vital, it is also important to make sure disabled learners feel welcomed and valued.
We want disabled doctors and students to have a more accessible and supportive training experience, so they can meet their required learning outcomes and have fulfilling and sustained careers in medicine. Welcomed and valued has been developed to help medical schools and postgraduate educators do this.
For effective support, it is key to bring together people with the appropriate knowledge of the course and training requirements, keep an open mind to possible solutions, consult the individual and also take the opinion of experts on board, and periodically review the support to make sure it is working. It is also important to make sure training environments foster a culture where disabled medical students and doctors are welcomed, and their contribution to the profession is valued.
Here, disabled students and doctors in training share some of the things that they would like to see to improve the culture of support.
- ‘Have a mental health champion doctor available for medical students and doctors in each hospital so that those on placement have a direct named contact.’
- ‘Treat disabled students as individuals. Pinpoint the exact needs of each and every one and help them become good doctors, just like every other able-bodied student is helped in their time at medical school.’
- ‘A student with a disability should have a key worker within both the disability and student services who can be easily contacted when problems arise.’
- ‘Remind students (and doctors in training) regularly to look after themselves and state that asking for support does not affect their ability to practise medicine.’
- ‘Improve access to competent, timely, non-prejudiced and independent occupational health support by doctors that are trained in how to look after medical professionals.’
- ‘Ask me what I need and what I want people to know.’
- ‘I think deaneries/HEE local offices would benefit from a disability support office type service for trainees to help provide continuity in support post-graduation.’
- 'Have programmes which offer opportunities to meet doctors with disabilities.’
- ‘Have a clear accessible resource for medical students and doctors with health conditions on what is expected of them and where other resources can be accessed.’
- ‘Improve knowledge of the practicalities of working with relapsing and remitting illnesses. Colleagues, occupational health, human resources and the royal colleges know very little about this, even though they may want to help you.’
- ‘Improve dissemination of information by introducing an optional standardised form that students can fill in before each attachment to describe their disability and ask for additional support.’
Able medics podcast
Listen to episode four of our Able medics podcast where we hear advice from educators and disabled doctors themselves on the best ways to support those with health needs to have successful careers on the frontline of healthcare.
Read the full experiences of other disabled medical students and doctors where they talk about what they bring to the profession, how their disability or health condition has been viewed, reasonable adjustments, moving through medical education and training, and what they would change to improve the culture of support.