Adapting practice, individualised support and sharing information
This anonymised account reflects the views of an individual, and not the General Medical Council.
A doctor discusses how a road traffic accident during medical school meant they needed to adapt their studies and practice. They talk about how individualised support and less than full time training allowed them to pursue a career they love, but that information about their disability didn’t always travel with them as they moved through training.
I currently work as a GP in a remote and rural practice. On my medical school elective, between my fourth and fifth year, I was involved in a road traffic accident which resulted in sustaining a below knee amputation of my right leg and nerve damage to my left leg.
I returned to medical school after taking a year off. The university faculty were very supportive and allowed me to complete my final training over a year and a half, rather than a year, sitting my final examinations when the re-sit exams were due to take place. Extending each of my clinical placements by 50% meant I could have time off during the week, which helped enormously with my stamina and also allowed me to continue my rehabilitation with regular physiotherapy.
I had an occupational health assessment which looked at the practicalities, such as whether I would be permitted to take a crutch or stick into an operating theatre environment.
After graduation, I completed my pre-registration house officer (PRHO) jobs part time, supernumerary to the rota. There was always plenty of work to go around, and arrangements were made so I could also participate in cardiac arrest calls, periodically holding an extra pager.
By this time, my stamina and mobility had improved and I was able to commence GP training following the standard vocational training programme. I completed posts in A&E, paediatrics, psychiatry, elderly care and obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as in general practice. My main concern was being able to respond quickly enough to assist in emergency caesarean sections, due to the gynaecology ward being at the opposite end of the hospital to the obstetrics unit. The hospital trust’s occupational health department solved this problem by renting me a mobility scooter. My colleagues were supportive and never made me feel self-conscious about using it. In fact, they sometimes used it themselves when they were on call overnight!
Now working as a qualified GP (a specialty I was already interested in prior to my accident), I rarely encounter any problems, although I do find icy conditions tricky. I work in a group practice and my colleagues are willing to swap with me if home visits are required in adverse weather conditions, or if an emergency response is requested by the ambulance service to somewhere I would find difficult accessing.
One assumption I made when I started my GP training was that my trainer would have been informed of my disability. As part of the application process, I had completed a form which had asked about disability and I had given details. However, it wasn’t until I tripped and fell one day in the health centre corridor and my prosthetic leg fell off, that he realised! I now recognise that the form was probably just a diversity monitoring form which would remain confidential. Although no special arrangements were particularly needed, I think it would have been useful for me and my trainer if the postgraduate training organisation had asked whether I was happy for them to share the information.
Overall, my experience has been very positive. My medical education and training was well supported and adapted to my needs at the time. Completing my final year of medical school and PRHO jobs part time allowed me to continue my training and get me to where I am now, doing the job that I love.