What do we mean by student fitness to practise?

  1. 74. In relation to a doctor’s fitness to practise the GMC states:
  2. ‘To practise safely, doctors must be competent in what they do. They must establish and maintain effective relationships with patients, respect patients’ autonomy and act responsibly and appropriately if they or a colleague fall ill and their performance suffers.
  3. ‘But these attributes, while essential, are not enough. Doctors have a respected position in society and their work gives them privileged access to patients, some of whom may be very vulnerable. A doctor whose conduct has shown that they cannot justify the trust placed in them should not continue in unrestricted practice while that remains the case.’

The meaning of fitness to practise, GMC policy statement, 2014 (pdf)

  1. 75. This statement explains what fitness to practise is for a registered doctor. But it is also relevant to medical students. Students are also in a privileged position, and have access to patients who may be vulnerable. Medical schools should not let a student continue their medical studies unrestricted, or let them graduate from medical school, if their conduct suggests they may be a risk to patients or the public.
  2. 76. Students are in a learning environment at the start of their professional career. When a medical school considers the fitness to practise of a student, it is appropriate to reflect on the severity of the behaviour, the maturity of the student and the year of study, as well as the likelihood of repeat behaviour and how well the student will respond to support.
  3. 77. Expectations of students are likely to change over the course of their studies. For example, misdemeanours in the early years of study, when a student has greater scope to demonstrate remediation, may have less of an impact on a student than misdemeanours in the later years of their course when there is less time before they must meet the requirements for graduation.
  4. 78. Medical schools should be aware that when concerns are raised about a student in the final year of study, there may not be sufficient time to resolve them. If a concern about a student’s fitness to practise is raised close to the date of graduation, then the medical school should consider the amount of time the student will have to demonstrate remediation. It may be necessary to require a student to repeat all or part of a year, if appropriate. But in cases where there is an outstanding, justifiable concern over a student’s fitness to practise, the medical school must not graduate the student.