Professor Bill ReidProfessor Bill Reid, Chair of our Health and Disability Review Steering Group, introduces our work to review Gateways to the professions, and why we need you to get involved at this early stage. We will be hosting roundtables later this year including for medical students and doctors so if you are interested in shaping our work, please let us know by filling in our short survey.

Supporting medical schools to achieve a more diverse workforce

Having a more diverse workforce in medicine, with a higher representation of doctors with disabilities, is a desirable aim in today’s healthcare environment. But it’s clear that medical schools, postgraduate deaneries and healthcare workplaces struggle at times in the absence of up to date, practical guidance, to join the dots together and have both a vision of what they might achieve strategically, and a pragmatic approach to the topic.

Reviewing Gateways to the professions

Originally published in 2008, Gateways to the professions provides advice to help medical schools ensure students with disabilities or health concerns don’t face unnecessary barriers in their medical careers. The guidance has been updated a few times to reflect legislative changes and signpost to on-line resources developed as part of the last review of health and disability in medical education and training. At a recent GMC Education and Training Board, members highlighted both positive and less successful aspects of the current guidance, demonstrating the need for us to look at this advice again and refresh the supporting resources.

In order to facilitate this, the GMC has assembled a diverse group of stakeholders – from postgraduate and undergraduate medicine, occupational health and employers, and universities and the BMA (amongst others). The Health and Disability Review Steering Group will meet every few months to provide direction, expertise and help shape the draft guidance ahead of a consultation next year. The group will be informed by a wider reference community which is being set up.

We hope to reframe the advice and refresh the supporting resources to make them more practical and relevant to both the undergraduate and postgraduate sectors – both for those who organise and deliver education and training, and for students and trainees with disabilities who want practical advice and resources to help them through the journey.  We want to share more personal experiences of those who have been through training with a health condition or disability, and provide better support for all affected by the guidance. Helping students, doctors, medical schools and employers to find solutions is our aim.

A work in progress

We’ve had one meeting of the Health and Disability Review Steering Group so far, discussing a wide range of topics; from admission to medical schools and the difficulties surrounding disease progression, to generalities versus bespoke solutions for all students and doctors. We’ve also explored why declared disabilities plummet when people leave medical school for the NHS, and what technologies can deliver when making ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace.

Get involved and share your story

Although we have a diverse group of people on the steering group, we are really keen to get as wide a range of stakeholder views as possible. One of the ways we intend to do this is by holding roundtable events across the country between now and winter, bringing together students, doctors, educators and employers to discuss their experiences, current challenges, examples of good practice and possible solutions. We also want to gather more personal stories from those who have experienced medical education and training with a disability or health condition.

We’d like to hear from anyone who is interested in contributing to the discussion and helping to shape the guidance and supporting resources. If you would like to get involved, please fill in this short survey and we will soon be in touch.

Prof Bill Reid is Chair of the GMC Health and Disability Review Steering Group, Postgraduate Dean for South East Scotland and Chair of COPMeD. Bill worked as a consultant geriatrician in Glasgow for 15 years, before taking up his current dean post in 2008. He was a member of the GMC’s Health and Disability in Medical Education and Training Group in the last GMC health and disability review in 2011-12. Prof Reid had a sarcoma as a child and had an above knee amputation aged seven.