HOPE for disabled doctors

Help in Obtaining Professional Equality

CAREER DEVELOPMENTS

For me, one of the main attractions of Medicine as a profession was the extensive range of potential careers. Granted, there were always going to be avenues which were not accessible – not much call for blind surgeons, one would imagine?! However, as a naïve school student and undergraduate, I always imagined there would be a plentiful array of career options, and that it would be me in control of my own future.

On entering the real world, I soon discovered a flaw in my planning. I found myself a novelty…. a token disabled doctor in an unsympathetic work environment.  Nothing was straight forward, advice was scarce and answers were hard to come by.

From October 2004, qualification bodies fall within the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The GMC and Royal Colleges will therefore need to ensure they do not disadvantage disabled doctors. Competency standards will remain the same and continue to put the safety of the patient first. However, reasonable adjustments will need to be considered. From the perspective of the Royal Colleges, it may be necessary to consider adaptations to entry requirements; to provide accessible examination venues; to provide examination papers in alternative formats; to consider provision of additional time………

From your perspective, it may be necessary to consider alternative career pathways; to consider alternate routes to your intended career; or to consider taking a career break while you take stock of your situation and consider your options. Take your time and take the opportunity to discuss matters with as many people as possible.

Time-Out

Only you can decide whether a complete break from your career is right for you. Unfortunately life often isn’t as straight forward as ‘Career Break vs. No Career Break’ - with financial commitments, families and emotions interacting to confuse the situation.

Some people find that time-off helps concentrate their mind, and allows time and space to prioritise their commitments. Others find that their career defines a large proportion of who they are as an individual. Career breaks can cause feelings of lost identity and longing – for the job itself and for the interaction with people and a known, ‘safe’ environment that the job provides.

What do you want from a career break?

Arranging time off is relatively straight forward. What can be trickier is to ensure your re-integration into your career, should that be your chosen course. If returning to the field of medicine is your intention, you must ensure that your employer and deanery are involved with your decision, and that a time-frame is agreed and adhered to.

Whatever you do, don’t waste your time-off. However, don’t be tempted to spend every waking second mulling over the perceived difficulties. Make time for you, your family and friends, and your hobbies and interests too.

Alternative Career Routes

You might consider that a particular career end-point is an achievable and sustainable career goal. However, the conventional pathway to obtaining that goal may not suit your particular requirements. For example, a physical impairment might make it difficult for you to attend ‘cardiac arrest calls’ promptly, and hence fulfil that particular aspect of the medical training programme. However, if your intended career end-point is within a non-clinical speciality where attending cardiac arrest calls is not required, it is worth while enquiring whether your difficulties can be accommodated,

Consideration of the provision of reasonable adjustments is required by law. Negotiation skills are invaluable. It also helps to have some firm ideas of your chosen speciality.

Alternatives?

Post-graduate Training

Whether you intend to continue along your current path, or whether a complete change is in order, at some point, you are likely to need to encounter the Royal Colleges. One hurdle encountered is the ability to fulfil the correct criteria to be able to undertake postgraduate qualifications. We are conscious that we could not possibly provide a comprehensive advice service encompassing every Royal College’s entry requirements, every potential candidate’s needs and every potential chronic illness, impairment or disability.

However, what we can provide are some contact points:

The Royal College of Physicians
Contact Information

Details

The Royal College of Physicians advise that they will consider applications to sit MRCP from doctors with disabilities on an individual basis. There is a ‘special requirements’ section on the examination application form. However, if you would rather discuss matters verbally in the first instance, contact:

Contact Name

Mr Jim Benson
Head of MRCP(UK) Central Office and London College Examinations Department

Address

11 St Andrew’s Place
Regent’s Park
London
NW1 4LE

Tel

Tel: +44 (0)20 79351174 ext 320

Fax

Fax: +44 (0)20 74872628 (Written exam / general)

Alt.Fax

+44 (0) 20 74864514 (PACES)

E-mail

James.Benson@rcplondon.ac.uk

Web

www.mrcpuk.org

The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health
Contact Information

Details

Graeme Muir is happy to be contacted in order to discuss individual needs.

Contact Name

Graeme Muir

Address

Head of Examinations
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
50 Hallam Street
London
W1W 6DE

Tel

+44 (0) 20 7307 5651

Fax

+44 (0) 20 7307 5686

E-mail

Graeme.muir@rcpch.ac.uk

Web

www.rcpch.ac.uk

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom
Contact Information
Contact Name

Ms Razvana Kurkic

Address

Education Administrator
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine
1 St Andrews Place
London
NW1 4LB

Tel

+44 (0) 20 7224 0343 extension 23

Fax

+44 (0) 20 7224 5381

E-mail

fpm@fpm.org.uk

Web

www.fpm.org.uk

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Contact Information

Details

Dr Murphy is your initial contact should you wish to discuss your individual requirements for examinations. Mr Beynon is the College Careers Adviser and is available to discuss matters concerning careers development within the speciality of obstetrics and gynaecology.

Contact Name

Dr Michael G Murphy - Head, Examinations Department

Tel

+44 (0) 20 7772 6256

E-mail

mmurphy@rcog.org.uk

Contact Name

Mr J L Beynon FRCOG - College Careers Adviser

Tel

+44 (0) 20 7772 6271

E-mail

bbailey@rcog.org.uk

Address

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
27 Sussex Place
Regent’s Park
London
NW1 4RG

Fax

 +44 (0) 20 7772 6395

Web

 currently under redevelopment

The Royal College of Psychiatrists
Contact Information
Contact Name

Ms L Bryson

Address

Head of Examinations Services
The Royal College of Psychiatrists
17 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PG

Tel

+44 (0) 20 7235 2351 extension 253

Fax

+44 (0) 20 7235 9948

E-mail

lbryson@rcpsych.ac.uk

Web

www.rcpsych.ac.uk

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists
Contact Information

Details

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists are happy to advise any doctor with a disability in the requirements necessary to become an ophthalmologist and to pass the appropriate examinations. Advice will be provided on an individual basis.

Contact Name

Miss Nina Leontieff

Address

Head of Examinations Department
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists
17 Cornwall Terrace
London
NW1 4QW

Tel

+44 020 7935 0702 extensions 212, 211, 210

Fax

+44 020 7487 4674

E-mail

exams@rcophth.ac.uk

Web

www.rcophth.ac.uk

The Royal College of Anaesthetists

The Royal College of Anaesthetists are unable, at present, to provide a specific contact name. However, they are wiling to consider provision of alternate arrangements on an individual basis, and suggest that all enquiries, in the first instance, should be addressed to the Medical Secretary at medsec@rcoa.ac.uk

Additional contacts will be added to this page as soon as we receive information from other Royal Colleges.