Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are medical schools abusing 'fitness to practice'?

In 2005 the GMC introduced guidance on 'Professional values and fitness to practice' for medical students. Some have said the notion that a student could be 'fit to practice' is they aren't licensed until after graduation. But the case has been made that medical students are placed in a position of trust with regards to patients and public as students so they should be held to higher standards than other students.

However, a conversation on Twitter today suggests that some medical students feel that medical schools are abusing their responsibility to ensure students 'fitness to practice' by threatening to carry out FTP procedures for what students perceive as minor misdemeanours  such as missing a day on placement.

You can find the fitness to practice guidance of many medical schools online. They specify serious and severe health and professional issues, but often have a line which says 'and any other matter which may call into question a student's fitness to practice'. This ambiguity is retained in a lot of professional guidance because it is impossible to specify every single circumstance that may mean that concerns would be justified, but it may be that this alarms students as they feel that the guidance then leaves too much leeway to the medical school and potential for abuse as suggested.

So do you think that medical schools are becoming unnecessarily disciplinarian? If so what is driving them to do this? Or are standards slipping? Were higher standards expected of medical students 'in your day'?

UPDATE: Thanks to @jomciver for this link to a very helpful blog post from senior staff in Birmingham medical school on what Fitness to Practice means (and what it doesn't)  and how they are trying to make the process clearer.

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