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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.