Topic outline

  • Introduction

    Student Support

    A medical course is a long and demanding journey that will test you to your limits and change you forever. You will become a completely different person capable of working as a professional in a high pressure environment where you must gain and maintain the trust of your patients and colleagues. This requires knowledge, skills and appropriate attitudes. Some attitudes and behaviours must be expressed from the very start of the course, and this section lays out your responsibilities in that regard.

    One of the main responsibilities you have, however, is to look after yourself, and we do not expect you to do this unaided. This section also lays out the wide variety of support services available to you, so we may help you through any difficulties that you may encounter.

    • Essential contacts

    • Welcomed and Valued

      On the 14th May 2019 the GMC  published their updated Welcomed and valued guidance, which provides advice for medical schools and postgraduate educators on how to support disabled learners, and those with long term health conditions.

       'We’d be grateful for your help in sharing the revised guidance with relevant colleagues. And if you’d like to join the conversation on social media, you can use #ablemedics. 

      Celebrating disabled medics’ contributions to the profession

      It’s important the medical workforce reflects and understands the diverse population it cares for. That’s why it’s vital we support and celebrate the significant contribution disabled doctors and medical students bring to the profession.  We want disabled doctors and students to have a more accessible and supportive training experience, so they can meet their required learning outcomes and have fulfilling and sustained careers in medicine. The guidance has been developed to help you do this, and we hope you will join us in recognising disabled students and doctors’ valuable contributions to the profession.

      Changes to the guidance

      Welcomed and valued retains the core principles of our previous Gateways to the professions guidance. However, it now includes more practical advice for both undergraduate and postgraduate educators, including a process map. This will make it easier for you to apply on a case by case basis, and help you to support your students to meet the Outcomes for graduates. The updated advice will help you to meet your legal duties and our standards for medical education and training, set out in Promoting excellence.

       General Medical Council

    • Professional Attitudes and Conduct

      As a University student you will have a great deal of personal freedom, and we want you to enjoy yourselves, as your University years should be some of the best years of your life. However, as a medical student you also have a professional duty to comply with the standards expected of you. Medical students must be aware that their behaviour outside the clinical environment, including in their personal lives, can bring the profession of medicine into disrepute and impact upon their fitness to practise as a doctor in the future.

      The General Medical Council lays out what is expected of doctors and medical students in its documents 'Good Medical Practice'. There are a number of situations where you may get into problems beyond your work in the clinical environment. These could relate to your friendships and relationships, behaviour in public, the misuse of drugs and/or alcohol or the unacceptable use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter. You must take care to abide by the expectations, and show consideration for, the standards expected of being a doctor.

      The Medical School expectations for your attitudes and behaviour are laid out in a 'Pre-Course Student Agreement', which you will have received, and must sign. Do take the time to reflect on the implications of what you have signed up to. It will avoid a lot of potential grief in the future. All that said, we all need to have a good time in our lives; just make sure to balance this with your responsibilities as a medical student and future doctor. Please see the General Medical Council section in Moodle.

      Pastoral network Looking after yourself Looking after yourself Student Support Concerns Process Careers support Being a Student Looking after you Looking after you Fitness to Practise Proceedings Code of Practice for Personal Tutors Professional Attitudes and Conduct
    • Concerns Process

      Concerns ProcessThe Medical School has an absolute obligation to the public to monitor the progress and professional attitudes and conduct of medical students and to take action if there is any cause for concern. We all recognise that as you develop and mature your understanding of what is required of you will improve, so the systems are aimed to detect any issues at an early stage and intervene in ways that will bring you back on track. Most issues will be resolved in this way.

      The Medical School operates a 'concerns process' that receives information from a wide variety of sources about the performance and conduct of students. In many cases the concerns will be about academic progress, and in this situation the concerns group is entirely supportive, and will put in place additional support for you to overcome your academic difficulties. This may involve assessment by an educational psychologist or support from specialist educational units, supplemented by subject specific advice. The crucial thing is that you should recognise problems early and cooperate with those who are trying to help you. Failure to cooperate is an indication of unprofessional attitudes, which could become an additional cause for concern.

      Many students also become ill during the course, and again here the concerns process is supportive. It will ensure appropriate assessments by occupational health or other agencies, and put in place such support as is required to help you through the course as your illness is resolved or managed more effectively. You must however recognise to responsibility to look after your own health and to cooperate with those who are trying to manage your health problems, and failure to do so could become an additional cause for concern.

      Occasionally however, the concerns are about behaviour or attitude. In this situation the initial approach is still supportive, aiming to help you reflect on issues and change your behaviour through a variety of interventions. If you do not respond to those interventions, or if your behaviour is such as to give rose to immediate major concern then you may be referred from the concerns process, which is principally supportive to 'Fitness to Practise' proceeding which will evaluate independently your situation and decide whether you are fit to practise and may remain on the course. You will continue to be supported by the medical school during this process, but must understand that it may lead to termination of your course.

      The 'concerns process' considers all three aspects of academic progress, health and conduct together because there are often complex interactions between them and equally complex interventions may be required to resolve the issues. You must understand that it is not disciplinary in nature. It aims to help you deal with issues so you may continue on the course and be successful.

      Do note that you have a responsibility to report any concerns you may have about a fellow student or any member of staff, so that the concerns group may act early to manage the situation and minimise adverse consequences. Guidance on this can be found in the Whistle-blowing policy.

    • Academic Misconduct

      Academic misconduct in medical students is regarded as a serious concern. The definitions of misconduct and the general expectations of students in relation to their personal conduct, academic honesty and obligations, are defined in the University Regulations for First Degrees, MB ChB Regulations and Code of Practice for Assessment.

      The Academic Misconduct Group is a referral group from the Concerns Group, and as such, will receive allegations of any academic misconduct, plagiarism or cheating from the Concerns Group, normally from the Medical School Examinations Officer following an assessment, written examination or OSCE. 

      For a bit of fun, please have a go at the University's Essential Quiz on good Academic Practice. You will need to login once you have clicked on the link and read the University's policy document first. Have a go!

    • Fitness to Practise Proceedings

      The Fitness to Practise Committee considers the cases of students whose conduct or health may put future patients at risk, irrespective of academic performance on the course. It is a University process operating independently of the Medical School. Students about whom there are concerns about fitness to practise are normally referred by the concerns group/process (see above), together with a report about the nature of the concern and any other relevant information. The situation is then investigated again from scratch by an independent 'investigating officer', who makes a report to the committee. The committee is chaired by a lay chair and has significant representation from the public so that fair judgements may be made. The Committee may impose a variety of penalties, up to and including termination of a student's course (see terms of reference).

      Please see the General Medical Council section in Moodle for all related documentations.

    • Absence

      The Medical School does recognise that there may be times when you have to be absent from the course; for example, if you are unwell. If this is the case, you may self certify for the first few days of illness, but must obtain a medical certificate from a doctor if you are unwell for longer or if your illness coincides with an assessment. If you are sick, you will be able to 'self-certificate' for up to one week and if you are unfortunate enough to be ill for more than one week, then you must obtain a sick note from your GP and complete the certification form. If there are compassionate reasons you must let the medical school know, and if possible discuss with a member of the student support team before you leave (request for exceptional absence).

      The Medical School recognises that on occasion personal circumstances interfere with study and assessments. It is crucial that you report such circumstances as early as possible, so that support may be put in place for you, and your circumstances may be taken into account in progression decisions. There is a form which you must complete if you believe that your preparation for, or performance in assessments has been affected by circumstances beyond your control. 

    • Looking after yourself

      One of the main responsibilities you have is to look after yourself by seeking help when necessary, and as adults you are responsible for your own progress and well being. The University and Medical School has a variety of ways to help you do this. 

      Occupational Health

      The Medical School is working in partnership with the Occupational Health Service at Milton Keynes Hospital and can be found on the third floor of Outpatients in the hospital. You will already have completed an occupational health questionnaire, and will see the service if necessary. The Occupational Health Service will work to ensure that your studies do not have an adverse impact on your health and vice versa. This includes providing you with impartial advice on medical fitness for work (study); on fitness to return to work (study) following ill health or injury; and on adjustments that may be considered to support those of you with disabilities. The Service is also responsible for administering the recommended vaccinations which help to protect you, and also your patients, from various communicable diseases.

      You will be in contact with patients right from the start of your course and it is your professional duty to ensure you have a clean bill of health, otherwise you may not be allowed to enter the clinic/GP practice and your studies may be delayed. During the course, you may be referred to the Occupational Health Service for advice/recommendations and they may suggest that you seek coaching, counselling, or an educational assessment for example. If you would like further information about the role of the OH Service, please contact

      Students First

      University Students First provides personal and individual support to all students throughout their time at Buckingham. If you are unhappy or worried, there is always someone who will listen and can advise you. Our aim is to ensure that all our students' years at University are happy, fulfilling and successful. We have a Head of Student Welfare, a Counsellor, a Student Support Adviser, a Disability Officer/Learning Support Adviser, a Learning Support Assistant, a Family Welfare Adviser, and Student Support staff, who will work alongside the Medical School Student Support Team.

      In addition to the Medical School Student Support Team, the University Students First staff can offer you information on who to contact with regard to finance (administration of hardship funds, budgeting advice) and international student issues (VISA renewal service, immigration advice). More importantly, the Student First staff can offer you wide-ranging advice and information on health promotion, learning support and on campus GP service. Students First is open from Monday to Friday 9:00-17:00. 

      Out of hours, in an emergency only, please contact University Security on 07860 834802 if you are based in University accommodation.  If you have a medical emergency please call 999 and if you are unsure what to do please call 111.

      Working Hours in Clinical Placements

      -  Students must be clinically supervised by a named CS but this can be delegated but the Consultant remains responsible. 

      -  Hours should not exceed that of an FY1 rota

      ·   Maximum average 48 hour working week 

      ·   Maximum 72 hours’ work in any seven day period 

      ·   Maximum shift length of 13 hours

      ·   Maximum of five consecutive long (>10 hours) shifts with a minimum of 48 hours rest after a run of five consecutive long shifts

      ·   Maximum of four consecutive night shifts with a minimum of 46 hours rest after a run of either three or four consecutive night shifts 

      ·   Maximum of four consecutive long, late evening shifts (>10 hours finishing after 11 pm) with a minimum of 48 hours rest after four consecutive long, late evening      shifts 

      ·   Not rostered to work more frequently than one weekend in two

    • Looking after you - Phase 2

      In Phase 2, as well as the continuation of University and Medical School Support Services, there will be additional services available to you through the hospital.

    • Anti-Bullying

      The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has an ongoing commitment – through the #letsremoveit campaign - to working with healthcare professionals to challenge unacceptable behaviours and support change across the NHS. An informal alliance of medical and healthcare bodies has come together to share ideas and best practice as well as illustrate the variety of assistance available. Bullying not only affects those on the receiving end but has severe consequences for patient care.

      The new document produced by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh can be found here 

      • Financial Assistance

        Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) links to charitable trusts that assist medical students. These are all independent of the RMBF, so please contact the relevant organisation directly for more information via the website links and contacts provided. The list is by no means exhaustive, so we suggest that you do further research, and read their tips on applying to charitable trusts.


        Royal Medical Benevolent Fund:  

        If you are a medical student in exceptional and unexpected hardship due to ill health, disability or bereavement, you may be eligible for financial help. Click here for more details.

        • Code of Practice for Personal Tutors

          The Personal Tutor system is at the heart of the Medical School Pastoral network and is designed to support every one of you for the duration of your studies on the MB ChB programme. 

          You will be allocated a Personal Tutor on registration to the MB ChB programme from the School of Science and Medicine in Phase 1, and from clinical staff in Phase 2. Your Personal Tutor will:

          • Provide you with confidential guidance (unless there a fitness to practise or safety concern) if you encounter any difficulties during your studies;
          • Help you to reflect on your performance, set future goals and discuss your career aspirations;
          • Will guide and advise on some issues themselves but for others such as health related or other more complex problems they may suggest that you refer to other support mechanisms which would be more appropriate, through the Student Support Team;
          • Will operate independently (but not in ignorance) of the Concerns Process (see below) and will keep the Medical School informed of any mitigating circumstances that might be affecting your studies in any way. 
          • Careers support

            By choosing to study Medicine you have already made a career choice.  Many of you, however, will not know what speciality you would like to practise in, and for those of you who have decided, you may have not have considered whether you have the personal attributes suited to that role.  We do not want you to worry too much early in the course as we will provide you with careers advice to explore different options in medicine, including applying for posts and funding, as well as volunteering opportunities.  Careers Advisors can be accessed through the Oxford Deanery (a part of Health Education Thames Valley) through referral from the Student Support Team.  They can also offer individual performance improvement advice and guidance through pre arranged appointments.  Throughout your course you will have talks and workshops on career-related topics including career planning, CV writing and interview techniques and how to prepare yourself for a chosen speciality, and applying for Foundation positions within the National Health Service, if you plan to work in the UK.  We will also be engaging with senior clinicians from a wide variety of countries in order to provide comprehensive and current careers advice to all of you from overseas who will move to another country to practise.

            The Professional Support Unit in the Oxford Deanery (a part of Health Education Thames Valley) will support all of you during your undergraduate studies, providing both a confidential and voluntary service when needed.  The Deanery PSU will not only provide you with professional advice on careers choices, but also individual coaching and performance improvement meetings with regard to health, disability and your future specialisation.  To discuss a possible referral, please contact the Student Support Team directly who will advise you of the procedures on how to contact an appropriate member of the PSU

          • Professional Development

            Please keep an eye out for future opportunities to further develop your knowledge and skills.

            Professional Development Calendar
            Category Date/Time Event Details Link to event info

            Internship Nepal offers a unique range of services for medical students and provides opportunities to complete their abroad electives in Kathmandu, Nepal. The broad range of services we offer:- 

            • We work with some of the most prominent hospitals in Kathmandu such as Kathmandu Model Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital and Kanti Children's Hospital. The placements are available throughout the year.
            • Students will assist the local doctors and nurses in performing surgeries.
            • The environment and workflow of hospitals in Nepal is comparatively tough. This prepares students for the future.
            • Students applying for the elective program will be placed in a home stay with an extremely hospitable host family in Kathmandu.
            • Basic accommodation, Food (3 meals a day)/ Wi-Fi/ Homestay will be provided at an extremely affordable cost.
            • We have students from all around the world living together, which creates a harmony of cultural exchange. The group of strangers becomes a family in no time.
            • Students will be involved in our hikes/trips/tours inside and outside Kathmandu regularly. 

            If students are interested in applying for this internship please see the website. Alternatively, students can email directly at