I asked a friend to sign in for me – now I’m facing an investigation

A student faces a fitness to practise investigation after asking another student to sign in to a teaching session for them following a party.

The scenario

A student member called the MDU advice line because she'd become the subject of a fitness to practise investigation due to concerns about her behaviour following a party.

The day after a party, feeling worse for wear, the member asked a fellow student to sign into a teaching session on her behalf while she stayed in bed, so she got her attendance mark. The tutor noticed the member wasn't present but was signed in and reported this to her medical school. This raised concerns about her alcohol use as well as her probity. As a result, a fitness to practise investigation was opened.

MDU advice

We advised the member to reflect on her actions and write a reflective statement for the investigators, with the support of the MDU team.

The member acknowledged that she should've considered her tutorials the next day and not allow her drinking to interfere with attendance or engagement with her studies. The member reassured the investigators she did not normally drink alcohol to excess, and this was a one-off after celebrating a new term.

The member also apologised for her ill-judged decision to ask another student to sign in for her and took full responsibility for this. The panel acknowledged that the member had not previously caused any concern either academically or personally. The member apologised to the tutor whose session she missed, and the other student also wrote a reflective statement and apologised for having signed the member in without questioning it. The matter was closed with a warning.

GMC guidance

The member was also advised to review the GMC and Medical Schools Council guidance on professional behaviour and fitness to practice when preparing their reflections.

Medical students are expected to maintain the standards expected of qualified doctors when it comes to their personal conduct. Doctors have a respected position in society and are regularly in contact with patients who may be vulnerable, so doctors and students are expected to conduct themselves in a way that does not call into question the public's trust in the medical profession.

Medical schools looking into concerns should consider the maturity of the student and how close they are to finishing their medical degree, and the likelihood of repeated behaviour.

Key takeaways

  • Like doctors, medical students are expected to behave in a professional manner. Their personal behaviour should not harm the public's trust in the medical profession.
  • Where concerns arise, medical schools may take action to address these concerns, including a fitness to practise investigation.
  • Reflection is an essential element of a student remediating any concerns, particularly where their probity has been called into question.

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

This page was correct at publication on 09/02/2023. 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.

Dr Kathryn Leask 2023

by Dr Kathryn Leask Medico-legal adviser


Kathryn has been a medico-legal adviser with the MDU since 2007 and is a team leader, trainer and mentor in the medical advisory department. Before joining the MDU, she worked in paediatrics gaining her MRCPCH in 2002 and holds a CCT in clinical genetics. She has an MA in Healthcare Ethics and Law, a Bachelor of Law and a Professional Doctorate in Medical Ethics. She is also a fellow of the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine and has previously been an examiner and deputy chief examiner for the faculty. Kathryn is currently a member of the faculty’s training and education subcommittee and a member of the Royal College of Pathologists (medical examiner).