Coronavirus information for medical students

Supporting your ongoing education

Everyone recognises that the graduation of new doctors each year is of vital importance.

We’re working with medical schools to make sure that you can progress through your studies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If you’re set to graduate in 2021 and join the foundation programme, please read our updated guide to provisional registration.

How individual medical schools and placement providers respond to the pandemic will depend on local circumstances. It’s likely they’ll each need to make different adjustments as the situation changes.

Throughout this period, we’ll keep working with all schools to ensure their courses still meet our standards and outcomes. We’ll also update these web pages regularly with information and advice for medical students.

Looking after your health

Like the wider profession, as a medical student you must manage your own health. If you’re unwell, you should not attend teaching sessions, placements or assessments, and you should self-isolate in line with national advice.

This is particularly important in clinical settings, where patient safety should always be your priority. Medical schools and placement providers should make sure that you have the equipment and the information to work safely in clinical settings.

If you have pre-existing health conditions that place you at increased risk of infection, you should discuss this with your medical school or local education provider.

Volunteering

We know that many medical students have volunteered in different roles during the pandemic. We’re also aware that some may not have been able to volunteer for a wide range of reasons. Whether or not you volunteer will not affect your future progression.

With the Medical Schools Council, we published this statement about students taking up voluntary or paid roles during the pandemic. We emphasise that we support – but do not require – students to take up these roles.

If you volunteer, you must not be asked to carry out any duties of a doctor. You must be supervised to be safe and act within your competence at all times.

Arrangements should be made locally, and employers should give you relevant induction, equipment and support. You can find volunteering opportunities on the MSC's website.

As a medical student, should I be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Where there is requirement that you’re vaccinated against a particular disease, you must do so unless there are good reasons why it isn’t appropriate in your individual circumstances.

Some placement providers will mandate that all clinical staff and students are vaccinated against diseases, like hepatitis B for example.

In Good medical practice, which describes what it means to be a good doctor, we say that doctors should be immunised against common serious communicable diseases, unless this is contraindicated.

In Achieving good medical practice, which is our joint guidance with the Medical Schools Council on ethical practice for medical students, we say:

34. You must comply with the occupational health policies and procedures of your medical school or university (for example, immunisation against common, serious communicable diseases).

Is the vaccine mandatory?

At present, the NHS is recommending that all staff have the vaccination, but it’s not made it mandatory.

Whilst there is no absolute duty to be vaccinated against COVID-19, there is a potential risk of inadvertently spreading coronavirus to vulnerable patients while you’re on placement.

This weighs in favour of medical students being vaccinated unless there are good reasons why it isn’t appropriate in your individual circumstances.

We recognise that you may need to take account of any underlying health conditions. In some cases, there may be other appropriate options for managing any risk to patients and colleagues.

Who should I speak to if I have a good reason not to be vaccinated?

If you have good reason not to be vaccinated, you should discuss it with your medical school. There are measures that will need to be put in place when you are on placement to manage any risk of contracting COVID-19 and transmission to patients.

If you’re concerned about receiving the coronavirus vaccination you should ask your medical school for further advice. It will be able to provide you with information and support to understand how health and safety policies at clinical placement sites can protect you, patients and service users.

The NHS website is also a good source of reliable information about the UK vaccination programme.

GMC news for students

To keep up-to-date on the latest developments, sign up to our GMC news for students bulletins.