Medical student fitness to practise investigations
When students start university, the possibility that they may be the subject of a disciplinary investigation into their fitness to practise will be far from their thoughts. However, they do occur, and the consequence may that an individual’s career is over even before it has started.
There are high expectations around the standards of behaviour and conduct for students enrolled on courses leading to professional qualifications. Common problems relate to underperformance, health and misconduct; the latter often arises from the use of social media and examination misconduct. Universities and medical schools are not limited to investigating concerns that happen on campus. Students are equally accountable for incidents that occur off-site and may be unconnected with their studies.
University, particularly studying for a healthcare professional qualification, can also be stressful. We have advised many students experiencing health problems where the school has commenced an investigation into whether the health issue might render the student unfit to complete their qualification.
Some student fitness to practise outcomes also need to be declared to a regulator at the point of applying for registration. This may delay registration or, in the worst case, can prevent a student from becoming registered despite successful completion of their course.
Each university or school will have their own policy and guidance on fitness to practise processes and outcomes. In broad terms, an investigation may result in:
- No action;
- A warning or reprimand;
- A requirement to undertake some reflective written work or specific courses to address behaviours of concern;
- Restriction from engaging in some activities or certain aspects of a course;
- A requirement to re-take a year or part of a course; or
- Expulsion from the course or the university entirely.
Handled carefully and appropriately, most students involved in university fitness to practise investigations go on to complete their studies and to pursue a successful career. However, it is important to seek early legal advice about the process to maximise your prospects of securing a positive outcome. Our experts have decades of experience and can guide you through the process.