Moving through education - support at transition points
Transitions during medical training are a challenge for all learners, but can be even more of a challenge for disabled learners
Training to be a doctor has many transitions - into medical school, into clinical placements, into Foundation training and between posts. Often, the challenges disabled medics face, such as securing suitable reasonable adjustments and dealing with negative attitudes and assumptions, reset at each transition.
Sharing information in advance and discussing their needs with training organisations can make a big difference, but disclosing information about a health condition or disability can be daunting.
Here, disabled students and doctors in training discuss the issues they've faced while moving through training, and what has made the process easier.
Supporting my return to medicine
‘Moving between clinical attachments can also be challenging. Every time we rotate I have to explain I have a health condition to a new tutor. As mental health issues are a hidden disability it can be difficult for others to understand the impact this can have on your life, so people don’t always understand, particularly if you have to take time away from studies due to mental health.’
Sharing information while moving through training
‘One assumption I made when I started my GP training was that my trainer would have been informed of my disability. As part of the application process, I had completed a form which had asked about disability and I had given details. However, it wasn’t until I tripped and fell one day in the health centre corridor and my prosthetic leg fell off, that he realised! I now recognise that the form was probably just a diversity monitoring form which would remain confidential.’
Getting lost in red tape while moving through training
'Prior to every training post, I had to organise a meeting with supervisors. I also assessed the physical working environment to ensure it was accessible for me and provide as much notice as possible about any adjustments or additional equipment needed to allow me to undertake the required work… It identified several problems which, if I hadn’t found early, would have potentially delayed my start in the post and subsequently lengthened my training or would have resulted in personal injury.'
Chasing others to get support
'I had no hesitation in declaring my mental health problems when I entered the Foundation Programme as I’d already been identified as having these issues on a ‘transfer of information’ form. From the start, I was offered the opportunity to engage with the occupational health service (of very high quality) and I was offered less than full time (LTFT) training, which I accepted until I felt I was ready to work nights and weekends.’
Taking a proactive approach to sharing health information
‘Throughout medical school and postgraduate training, it didn’t seem like the administration/human resources departments communicated with tutors/supervisors about health conditions. While part of me understands the need for confidentiality, at no point have I been asked if I am happy for the information to be shared with those who are supervising me. This has meant having difficult conversations after things have gone wrong.’
Read the full experiences of other disabled medical students and doctors where they talk about what they bring to the profession, how their disability or health condition has been viewed, reasonable adjustments, moving through medical education and training, and what they would change to improve the culture of support.