The view from the Faculty Support Office;
Medical students present with a range of conditions, both mental and physical in all years of the programme.
Some of the mental health conditions that our students currently present with are Generalised Anxiety Disorders, Eating disorders, Asperger’s, OCD, Bipolar disorder, Depression and PTSD.
Some of the physical health conditions that we are currently supporting are diabetes, epilepsy, prosthesis, arthritis, CFS, restricted mobility, hearing and sight impairment, asthma, MS and temporary disabilities such as fractures and musculoskeletal injuries etc.
We also have a number of students with Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
These conditions range from mild through to moderate and severe. Affected students develop a relationship with our pastoral team and receive regular personal support ongoing throughout the programme and also during periods of crisis. Emma, the Faculty Student Advisor is in regular communication with individual students, to ensure mental and physical wellbeing, especially those who are particularly vulnerable or at risk.
Students disclosing a health condition or disability in their application, or for the first time after the start of the programme, are offered an opportunity to meet with a member of the pastoral support team. Emma then often liaises with the Disability and Health Panel and Occupational Health and Disability Services teams in order to discuss support measures.
The Faculty holds a Disability and Health panel on a monthly basis in order to consider the support requirements of students. Previously, some of the alternative arrangements and ‘reasonable adjustments’ that have been put in place to assist students in continuing with their studies are: extra time in examinations, a separate room for examinations, specialist equipment for examinations, placements local to personal therapeutic appointments, adjustment to unit timetable within an academic year to accommodate personal need and on programme support.
Emma also works with students by simply providing a listening ear when students’ health or personal problems get them down. This is a confidential service, unless there is a requirement to share information to ensure student and patient safety. This can often be part of a student’s network of support that may prevent a deterioration. Advice is also given on absence and extenuating circumstances procedures and the GMC requirement for medical students to address their own health issues.
Lastly, short periods away from the programme, or an entire academic year, is a support measure that is often agreed. It is very common for students to suspend studies in order to address health issues without the pressure of academic study.
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