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When medical students go off the rails

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 14 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:556

Student support is essential, but so is protecting the public

  1. Peter Rubin, dean of medicine and health sciences (
  1. Dean's Office, Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH

    Medical students can acquire the knowledge and skills that they need only by coming into close contact with vulnerable members of society. Once they graduate, new doctors are expected to conform to principles of professional conduct that have the safety of patients at their heart,1so the award of a medical degree confirms more than academic achievement. It says that the graduate is fit to practise under supervision as a doctor and can be trusted by public and profession alike. In the United Kingdom, graduation in medicine automatically leads to provisional registration as a doctor, and the regulatory body has no discretion in the matter.2

    Medical schools therefore have a considerable responsibility to identify and appropriately manage students whose conduct may put patient safety at risk. No member of the public should be harmed by participating in the learning of students or through the actions of a newly graduated doctor who is not fit to practise.

    Examples of conduct that would seriously call into question the suitability of medical students to continue …

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