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Preparing for the medical profession
From their first day at medical school, medical students are on a journey that will prepare them for their professional lives as doctors. They are introduced to the profession through their academic studies and clinical placements, while ensuring that they act in a professional manner, as outlined in the GMC’s guidance achieving good medical practice.
Throughout this journey there is an opportunity to introduce medical students to the different elements and requirements of a professional environment - such as rotas and timetabling, and procedures for booking time off – and to incorporate these into students’ conditions of study. Introducing students to these elements enables them to develop an understanding of how to function effectively within a professional environment, which is beneficial to organisations hosting placements as well as future employers. This can also benefit students in a number of ways – for example, by enabling them to adequately plan for their placements and allowing them to book time off of placement or university for important life events such as weddings and funerals.
A need for supportive conditions of study
From speaking to our medical student members, we are concerned that some medical students are not being provided with supportive study conditions. Students have told the BMA that they are not able to apply for time off from their placements, time off from lectures or assessment deadline extensions to accommodate for important life events, and that the process to do this can often be overly burdensome. When coupled with poor notice of placement timetables, there is a substantial risk of limited learning opportunities and reduced capacity for having reasonable adjustments put in place, which can affect medical student attainment.
We are worried that these issues are hindering students’ ability to function effectively and succeed on placement, while also having a negative impact on several other aspects of students’ lives including their wider academic learning, their social relationships and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, medical students are not legally entitled to the same protections as NHS employees, but these issues are significant to a huge number of students and therefore they must be addressed.
Policy passed at the BMA medical students committee’s annual conference in April 2018 called for better notice of timetables, more robust processes for applying for time off from placement and better processes to detect instances where poor notice of timetables affects students’ learning opportunities. We are now initiating a piece of work in this area to better understand the picture across the UK and to do everything possible to ensure that the conditions medical students’ study in are as supportive as possible.
Calling all medical students!
We can’t achieve this change without your help. The BMA needs to hear student members’ experiences to demonstrate the scale of this problem to medical schools and by answering the questions below you can help us to start making this change.
These are important questions to be answered as they affect your conditions of study and we would like to receive feedback from medical students across the UK. You can help personally by contacting your BMA representative and sharing your feedback with them. Alternatively, you can reach out to us directly to feed into this work via email at [email protected]. Please do share this blog with your peers and encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences on this issue– we want to hear your stories as they will actively help the BMA in your area achieve meaningful improvement in conditions at your university for you and your peers.
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Good article. I have so many questions to this so I probably should discuss this with gothicivories.courtauld.ac.uk/.../viewtopic.php folks and get some answers. Study at medicine is a hot topic nowadays.