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New GMC guidance expects medical students to build 'resilience'

The GMC is expecting medical students to develop ‘resilience’ to stress and challenges during their studies, says new guidance published today.

It follows a debate over the GMC’s fitness-to-practise regime in recent years, after it emerged 28 doctors had died by suicide during proceedings.

The GMC said the new guidance expliains the ‘standards of professional behaviour’ that is ‘expected’ of medical students during their studies.

The guidance, which comes into force 1 September, includes a responsibility to ’develop healthy ways to cope with stress and challenges (resilience)’, to ‘deal with doubt and uncertainty’ and ‘apply ethical and moral reasoning to your work’.

The GMC’s guidance also asks students to: recognise limits of their competence; be honest when they don’t know something; raise concerns over patient safety; protect patient identifiable information; seek help from their medical school if they have a health condition which may affect their studies; and not being derogatory to others on social media.

Commenting on the new guidance, GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson said ’medical students differ from most other students’ in that ’their studies and placements will bring them into contact with patients and members of the public who may be physically and emotionally vulnerable’.

He said: ’Because of this and to maintain the public’s high level of trust in doctors, they have to display higher standards of professional behaviour – both inside and outside of medical school’.

Professor Iain Cameron, chair of the Medical Schools Council, said: ‘It is essential that medical students and medical school staff fully understand the implications of fitness to practise issues for students.

’These two pieces of guidance will help medical students by setting out clear expectations for their behaviour and assist medical schools in developing their processes in line with best practice.’

Last year, Professor Stephenson said doctors should expect to face a GMC investigation during their career as an ‘occupational hazard’ and build up resilience to deal with it similar to ‘soldiers in Afghanistan’.

This year, the GMC said that doctors who have mental health problems will be spared from full GMC investigations ‘wherever possible’, under sweeping new proposals around investigations designed to reduce unnecessary stress for doctors. 

Readers' comments (30)

  • So in the future being a doctor is considered by the GMC to be as stressful as a frontline member of the armed forces. Yet we are still expected to be kind and caring…

    All sixth form students in schools should be made aware of this before applying to medical school.

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  • The implication that these tragic cases are due to a lack of resilience and, as inferred by their language, professional responsibility is disgusting. Every person has a breaking point. Instead of addressing the intolerable cruelty imposed on those under investigation they've just transferred the responsibility back onto the doctor.

    I can't wait for the day I leave this country and burn all bridges with this racket.

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  • It is extraordinary. The underlying assumptions to what they say are unpleasant. " be prepared to be put under huge stress by an inevitable investigation into your practice as a doctor and if you can't cope it's your fault for not learning to be resilient enough" even though the majority of investigations end in case closed. Nothing about re( developing) the support structure around doctors or addressing causes of stress.

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  • This is priceless - tell medical students - if you are going to practice in the UK be prepared to be sued, have government misinterpret statistics and work patterns to justify pay cuts and disguise it as a pay raise, have your livelihood threatened, be ready to fund an organisation that will strike/suspend you after an intense prolonged process that would make you consider committing suicide.
    Or you could just take the easier option - complete your basic medical training and come to sunny Australia or Alberta where none of the above exists.

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  • This implies if you commit suicide due to NHS work stress then the GMCs view is you are a wimp and its your own fault. What a sad state of affairs. This job is now valueless.

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  • I will start to teach my medical students to not give a sh*t about their patients or their work and to clock on and off at their contracted times. The GMC told me to.

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  • to be fair it was always about 'getting the right kind of doctor'

    it's been mentioned time and time again - 'they' (state / leaders / some members of th e public) just want vocational doctors only.

    i.e.

    only train if the following apply;

    1. you are willing to be truly vocational and available 24/7/365
    2. you will put patients/nhs above your health and above friends and family
    3. you will do what you are told by the state (even if it doesn't make sense)
    4. you will not question your t&cs and if the state decides to pay you nothing then so be it
    5. be willing to be under the most scrutiny of any profession
    6. in a dispute to be guilty until proven otherwise

    personally it's not worth it.

    by all means be a doctor (worth it) but not in UK. if you are already a specialist then RELP.

    if you seriously are happy with the above then fair enough and i'm sure many will still want to be doctors.

    as a GP I treat many medical students and to be frank they don't look like they are going to be able to handle it i.e. they are already stressed now (before working!).

    science wise we are in the most exciting times ever with advances in every field - don't do medicine unless you are happy with the many downsides do something else. the only good thing now is that if you are a consultant or GP you can earn a decent living by doing locum work BUT this will not last as they will cap rates and are tightening up regulation in 2017 (IR35).

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  • My my... so if you did not have mental health problems at the beginning of the investigation, it seems that you should create them pretty darn quick to keep the GMC goons off your back (as if!!!).
    I found a good way to keep them off my back permanently.... by taking my name off their register!
    Worked for me too as my stress has vanished.

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  • Clearly many of us are 'Lacking in Moral Fibre', as Bomber Commend Crews who developed psychological distress were often considered.

    Or the poor souls lined up for the firing squad in WW1 for shell-shock.

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  • The only way to get away from all of this is to remove yourself from the GMC register and laugh at them from afar....... i know because i've done just that and have never felt better.

    A GMC registration is a sword of damocles that only disappears when you wave the GMC goodbye

    They are a sinister organisation that despite what they say, seem to intimidate and bully doctors through fear. They really ought to be investigated themselves, but we all know that wont happen

    Protect your future, protect your family, protect your career remove yourselves from their sphere of influence.

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