Nursing and midwifery student’s fitness to practise is judged by the same standards as those applied to registered nurses and midwives. This is because nursing and midwifery students must comply with the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) standards at the point of application to join the NMC register.
Universities or other training providers will send a declaration of health and character to support your application to join the NMC register. Furthermore, in your application to the NMC, you will be required to make a declaration to the NMC about any health and/or fitness to practise concerns.
What is nursing and midwifery student fitness to practise?
According to the NMC, a nursing or midwifery student is fit to practise when they “have the skills, knowledge, character and health to work in their profession safely and effectively.”
Examples of circumstances that might call into question your fitness to practise as a nursing or midwifery student could include:
- character (such as convictions, plagiarism, falsifying records);
- unmanaged or untreated health problems; and/or
- misconduct (abuse of patients or colleagues); or
- lack of competence.
Health or disabilities should not normally lead to fitness to practise concerns provided that 1. it is managed and 2. declared to a training provider.
The NMC makes a point of saying that when it assesses health conditions and/or disabilities, it will check whether a nursing or midwifery student has disclosed health conditions and/or disabilities to their education institution.
Failure to do so may lead to a finding of impaired fitness to practise on grounds of dishonesty (therefore misconduct) and based on the fact that adverse health itself might have impacted on a student’s ability to practise safely and effectively.
Local fitness to practise panels
Universities or other training providers are required to have a local fitness to practise panel to consider health or character issues, and to protect the public.
Local fitness to practise panels should only be used if a student’s health or disability is likely to compromise or has compromised their ability to meet the required competencies and practise safely.
If necessary, a local fitness to practise panel will meet to make a decision about your suitability to remain on the programme. This would apply if your attitude or behaviour is such that it calls into question your good character.
If a local fitness to practise panel makes a finding of impaired fitness to practise it can:
- agree undertakings
- apply conditions
- suspend the student from the medical course
- expel the student from the medical course
The grounds for an appeal will need to be considered on a case-to-case basis but could include relevant mitigating circumstances, procedural irregularities and/or unfair treatment.
It is a well-established fact that legal representation can significantly improve positive outcomes in fitness to practise cases. This is particularly important for nursing and midwifery students because training providers must report the outcome of fitness to practise hearings to the NMC and students have to declare any fitness to practise issues on registration. The NMC will use this information to assess an individual’s fitness to join their register.
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