Intended for healthcare professionals


Protecting students and promoting resilience

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 02 September 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5266
  1. Caroline Fertleman, site sub-dean1,
  2. Will Carroll, honorary associate clinical professor2
  1. 1Whittington Campus, University College London Medical School, London N19 5NF, UK
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Nottingham University, Derbyshire Children’s Hospital, Derby DE22 3NE, UK
  1. will.carroll{at}

The GMC’s report is essential reading for all those who come into contact with medical students

Overall the teaching session seemed to be going well. There is a gentle buzz of activity but one of the students seems distracted. Paul’s attendance on this attachment has been poor and your attempts at engaging him with gentle, simple questions have been stonewalled. You speak to him after the session and it’s evident that he has been struggling for some time. His mood is low; he appears to be holding back and is clearly worried about confiding in you and the university.

Our experience as educators would suggest that everyone involved in teaching will encounter a similar situation. Compared with non-medical teachers, healthcare professionals often feel an extra responsibility to students with health concerns. With mental health problems we can find ourselves caught in a maze of ethical and professional dilemmas. The reluctance of medical students to discuss mental health problems candidly is understandable. In the past, the response to students who are struggling has been variable. Attitudes of individual teachers and medical schools have differed considerably. The publication …

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