Gateways guidance: 6. Disabled students as potential doctors

It is clear that selection for medical school implies selection into the profession. This is in the context of the varied medical careers and types of training available.

Medical schools have a duty to ensure that they have clearly identified which entry requirements are genuine competence standards (and so lawful) and which are not. All assessments of competence are subject to the reasonable adjustments duty.

The Medical Schools Council states that:

  1. ‘Selection for medical school implies selection for the medical profession. A degree in medicine confirms academic achievement and in normal circumstances entitles the new graduate to be provisionally registered by the GMC and to start practising as a doctor.’

It also states that:

  1. ‘A disability... need not be a bar to becoming a doctor if the student can fulfil the rigorous demands of professional fitness to practise as a newly qualified doctor. Students with disabilities should seek advice from medical schools well before the deadline for UCAS* submission so that their individual circumstances can be considered.’

This should present no problem if competence standards have been screened to avoid disability discrimination.

Survey of medical school pre-entry fitness assessments

Dr Alan Swann surveyed medical schools in 2005-6. He reported that 29 out of 31 schools had an explicit entry requirement that applicants must have the capability to be fit to practise at the end of the course. The associated occupational health assessment was in all cases designed to establish that the student could complete the course, given reasonable adjustments, and to establish what those might be. The basis of this process should be the competence standards set by the school, and the required prior academic and other attainments.


* Universities and Colleges Admissions Service