top of page

Trainers and Educators

It can be challenging being a trainer, supervisor or educator to someone with a disability when you have little experience of this.  It is often assumed that you will know what the additional requirements of you are in this situation and what additional support your student/mentee may require.  We have provided the information in this section to try to assist and guide you if you find yourself in this situation

Speaker with a Tie

How can you support a trainee/student with a chronic illness/disability?

  • Be open about your experience of disability and supporting chronically ill learners

  •  Be willing to seek advice and guidance if your knowledge and experience in supporting chronically ill/disabled learners is not adequate

  • Not make assumptions about the abilities of a learner based purely on the type of condition that they have or the visible aspects of their disability

  • Be proactive on behalf of the learner in trying to foresee when barriers may present or be encountered and try to put into place plans in order to avoid these e.g. such as when planning clinical placements, etc

  • Avoid making assumptions that people are well simply because they look well

What do chronically ill/disabled trainees need and expect?

  • To be respected and to be treated with professionalism and courtesy

  • To not have any assumptions made about their abilities or lack of ability

  • To be offered additional meetings beyond the usual minimum required in

order to plan placements/discuss adjustments, etc.

  • To be advised on when occupational health reviews are needed and what specific advice/guidance is needed from these reviews

  • To have an input in what placements/posts are undertaken as part of their training where there is a choice about this to enable the most appropriate, most accessible and least harmful posts/placements to be selected in order to tailor make their individual program according to the needs imposed by their specific condition

  • To be advised/reminded about when to contact their clinical supervisor for an upcoming post, around a month prior to commencement, in order to meet and discuss potential issues, barriers and adjustments required for that post so as not to cause delays when the post is started

  • For consent to be sought for their program director or educational supervisor to inform each clinical supervisor of upcoming posts about their specific condition and the implications of this

  • To have contact details for at least one person who can be contacted in the event of barriers, problems, discrimination encountered and to have contact details for local appropriate people with the specific role of providing support to disabled trainees and students, etc.

  • To be given the opportunity to undertake all aspects of training and work that able bodied students/doctors would have access to but to be able to be honest about their ability to undertake this and the issues that may be faced and the help and adjustments that may be required in order to facilitate them undertaking it

Young Female Portrait

How to spot a postgraduate learner who is developing a medical condition/disability or deteriorating:

  • Increasing amounts of sick leave

  • Decreasing attainment/performance out of keeping with the usual level of practice/achievement

  • Learner enquiring about additional support

  • Colleagues raising new concerns out of keeping with usual level of performance

  • A change in learners affect/personality/enthusiasm

How to avoid being discriminatory:

Avoid the following:

  • Assuming that people are well simply because they are at work

  • Refusing to make adjustments without asking for advice from the

relevant people to see if they would be possible/practical

  • Expecting learners to take responsibility for arranging their own educational/clinical supervisors meetings when number of meetings is in excess of the normal number required or arranging their own Occupational health reviews as well as coping with their condition and training

  • Putting pressure on learners to work due to staffing pressures when they are unwell or seeking support

  • Disclosing information about learners health to anyone without seeking consent first.  This includes as part of any references you are asked to give by the learner in the future.  Always clarify what health details they are happy for you to include as part of a reference and what they are not happy for you to include.  If you do not feel comfortable with this, decline to give the reference

  • Treating a learner in a way in which you yourself would not wish to be treated if you were unwell/disabled

  • Raising fitness to practice concerns with senior team members/other agencies such as the GMC without discussing this fully with the learner first and without good evidence to suggest there is a serious problem

Family Dispute


Please use our contact us section choosing the 'Needing advice as a trainer' option if you have other specific questions or need any other guidance that has not been addressed or provided on this website


There are a number of publications that you may also find helpful. These are listed here:

GMC publication: Welcomed and Valued Guidance:

- Chapter 3: What is expected of medical education organisations and employers?

- Chapter 6: How can postgraduate training organisations apply their duties?

- Appendix panel A5: Tips for induction

- Appendix panel A6: Tips for introductory session on clinical placements

The Welcomed & Valued Resource 'Shared Experiences' for examples of experiences of medical education and training from disabled student, doctors in training and practitioners

Open Book
Pile Of Books
bottom of page