Help! I'm facing a fitness to practise hearing

A student worries about his future career when his conduct and professionalism is called into question.

The scenario

A final year medical student contacted the MDU because he had been called to a fitness to practise (FTP) hearing as a result of concerns about his professionalism and conduct. A fellow student had complained that he had posted offensive comments on her social media page, and had also harassed her when drunk. He had received a warning the previous year after stealing a plaque as a joke from another medical school's university hall.

MDU advice

We helped the student draft an apology and a response to the FTP panel. This included an explanation of the student's understanding of the mistakes that had been made and a remedial plan to ensure the admitted behaviour would not be repeated. An MDU representative also accompanied the student to the hearing, where the student was given a warning, which would remain on his record for 24 months.

Fitness to practise and medical school disciplinary proceedings are the most common reasons for the MDU to assist student members. The main causes are health concerns, alleged unprofessional behaviour, sexual misconduct, poor attendance or probity.

The outcome of an FTP hearing may be:

  • no action taken
  • a warning
  • sanctions such as conditions, suspension or even expulsion from the course.

You must declare student FTP proceedings when you apply for provisional registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). Serious student FTP concerns can result in the GMC refusing to grant provisional registration.

Fitness to practise guidance

Medical students may be held to higher standards than other students because of the privileged position they hold. Professional behaviour is just as important as your academic performance and clinical knowledge.

Doctors must act in a professional way, and this relates to their behaviour outside work as well as when they are dealing with patients and their colleagues. The GMC takes an interest in doctors' behaviour if it calls their professionalism into question, so it's crucial that you do too.

The GMC's Achieving good practice guidance for medical students states:

"… your behaviour at all times, both in the clinical environment and outside of your studies, must justify the confidence that patients and the public place in you as a future member of the medical profession."

This is a fictionalised case compiled from actual MDU case files.

This page was correct at publication on 12/07/2023. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.