If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume you’re happy to receive all cookies from the BMA website. Find out more about cookies
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.
These cookies are required
These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information we collect is anonymous unless you actively provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.
These cookies allow a website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for you.
For example, they can be used to remember certain log-in details, changes you've made to text size, font and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you've asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. These cookies may be used to ensure that all our services and communications are relevant to you. The information these cookies collect cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices you've previously made or personalise your browsing experience meaning you would have to reset these for every visit. In addition, some functionality may not be available if this category is switched off.
Our websites sometimes integrate with other companies’ sites. For example, we integrate with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, to make it easier for you to share what you have read. These sites place their own cookies on your browser as a result of us including their icons and ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons on our sites.
Resilience and its limitations
Ask a medical student where the focus of the team lies on a ward and they will hopefully all give you the same answer: patients. Our MDT (multi-disciplinary team) draws together a plethora of different people with individual specialties, each contributing their own distinct area of expertise that, when put together, aim to provide patients with the best care possible. Medical students rightly spend their time on the wards pondering how to be the best doctor they can for their future patients. But while each member of the team focuses on delivering exceptional care to patients, who is looking after us?
I often hear colleagues – and indeed, many medical schools in their admissions processes – talk about the need for resilience amongst the medical cohort. In particular, the emotional challenges encountered during the course of a medical degree absolutely require an innate capacity to deal with stress. But when someone is potentially crushed under the weight of excessive costs of living, probably working alongside a full-time degree to pay their rent, potentially struggling with their sense of identity and where they fit in the world, perhaps dealing with bullying and harassment on the wards, trying desperately to find an F1 who is able to do their last sign-off with them, maybe living with a physical and/or non-physical disability, alongside witnessing death and the impact of chronic illness for the first time, maybe resilience can only get you so far? What plugs the gap to make sure you can focus on studying?
A call to improve student support services
A major focus for the BMA medical students committee this year is to lobby for improvements to student support services. Student support is a vast term which spans from pastoral support to reasonable adjustments for examinations and assistance with accommodation issues. Many students can go through university without encountering support staff; that is, until they find themselves in sudden need of their services. If any of the above things go wrong – and often, they can go wrong simultaneously – student support services tend to be the saviours that can pick up a student who otherwise might fall by the wayside.
As the committee’s deputy chair and welfare lead, I am looking to provide specific recommendations on how universities should support medical students throughout their studies. If things go wrong, or a student needs help during their studies, they deserve to have their own “MDT” – an integrated, well-equipped network of individuals whose focus is to provide a high standard of support. By working with BMA representatives, I hope to move closer to that over the course of this year.
The accessibility of support services is of paramount importance. For medical students, course hours can go far beyond 9 to 5, and students often find themselves on placements at satellite campuses, usually a fair distance from the main university campus and the mainstay of student support services which are housed there. Getting access to support can therefore be difficult; lots of students can be placed in the difficult situation of choosing between attending their placement or attending an appointment to get the help they require. One of my priorities this year is to address this imbalance and to find a way for medical schools to provide support regardless of the time of day or a student’s location.
The BMA MSC is also pushing for a more standardised approach to student support across the United Kingdom. We are interested to receive feedback from medical students on the support services available to them and to hear examples of good or bad practice at medical schools, so that we can create a set of guidance for our members. We want to empower students to ask for a better deal from their university in terms of the support they receive. That starts with being assured of what support could and should be available. We are inviting medical students to feed back to us on questions such as:
These are just some of the questions we are seeking to answer as we move forward. It is okay to not be okay - wellbeing is complex, and it fluctuates. You can be resilient and still need support. You deserve that support to be of the highest standard possible.
Stephen Naulls is the deputy chair and welfare lead of the BMA medical students committee. Interested in getting involved or hearing more on his and the committee’s work on student support services? Get in touch at [email protected]