Studying medicine is more than just stressful, thus presenting unique challenges to our mental health. Your MedSoc are here to help; we have our own dedicated welfare rep Kiana Mostaghmimi to help guide you to the right services or to just sit down and have a friendly chat.
The Government has made changes to Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA). Students that have applied for DSA this year and have been recommended a computer now have to pay £200 towards the overall cost. Enabling Services may be able to help students struggling with the £200 if their household income is less than £30,000.
The government are currently consulting on further changes to DSA with new guidance planned to be made public sometime after the new year. Enabling Services will communicate any further changes that are to be made to DSA funding.
For more information, please visit:
Welfare Rep: Kiana Mostaghimi
Hi all! My name is Kiana and I’m this year’s MEDSOC Welfare Rep! I’m about to go into my fourth year of Medicine and so I am aware of the challenges which come alongside this degree: more lecture/contact hours than your typical student, dealing with life and death situations on the wards, and feeling like the learning will never end. And that’s where my role comes in. I work both independently and also with the faculty’s pastoral team to support you with whatever difficulties medical students may be facing during their time at Southampton. If you have any questions regarding my role, any ideas to improve the welfare community in Medicine, or are in need of support with your wellbeing as a medical student, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will always be happy to help.
Absence from lectures need not to be reported unless it is for an extended period of time or the lectures are mandatory attendance.
If you need to request pre-arranged time away from lectures you must contact the Student Office - email@example.com
If you need to request pre-arranged time away from MiP/HCSW you must contact the Placements team firstname.lastname@example.org to request permission to be absent beforehand.
Any pre-arranged time off should be agreed with your project supervisor directly
Dr Susan Wilson – module lead S.J.Wilson@soton.ac.uk
Serena Cottrell – year 3 lead S.Cottrell@soton.ac.uk
Placement anticipates 100% attendance, but if you require a day(s) off e.g. for family commitments, to attend a conference or for a medical appointment then you may request time off in advance.
To organise this, you must contact the placements team fmed- email@example.com
You must also inform your module lead and/or clinical supervisor (if known at the time of application). If you are not sure of who this is, just include the details of which placement/time of year it will be and the placements team (as above) will be able to help you to inform the correct people.
Be aware that absence of 4 continuous weeks or more will generally result in suspension from the year and will require an application to repeat that year of study in the following academic year.
Be aware that if there is a recurrent pattern of missing single days then this will also be referred up centrally to the faculty and may result in suspension from the year. If there is a reason for a repeated absence, then you may apply for special considerations.
Report to your clinical supervisor/ placement coordinator
Absence of more than 4 days should be reported to your placement coordinator AND the placements team firstname.lastname@example.org
Liaise with the placement coordinator to re-arrange any missed sessions
Directly contact and explain your absence to the tutor/facilitator/external staff leading your teaching as indicated on your timetable
Apply for special considerations
Attendance at clinical modules is mandatory. If you are absent for > 4 continuous weeks, then you will generally need to suspend from your programme.
If you are absent during a clinical module (other than for four weeks continuously) you will be assessed at the end of the module. If you pass your module but miss a significant period of time and would like to arrange some additional experience the faculty will help you to do this (but cannot guarantee it is possible). This will not necessarily be required but would be encouraged
If you miss a significant amount of time from a clinical module without a good reason you can be failed on the grounds of professionalism (regardless of how knowledgeable you are)
Absence from MiP and HSCW sessions should be reported to the Placements Team email@example.com.
Report directly to your SSU teacher AND the student office firstname.lastname@example.org
Report your absence directly to your tutor as per your timetable
Not all lectures are mandatory, therefore illness which results in missing a few days of lectures need not be reported to the faculty. If your illness lasts > 1 week you should inform the student office email@example.com
NB: Students are required to attend a minimum number of hours in order to pass some modules. Students who have not attended the minimum number of hours required to pass the module(s) will be required to undertake additional work. This is different for each module and is available in the programme specification if required.
If you are feeling ill in the lead up to your exam – contact and notify the student office ASAP firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel ill during your exam
Attract the attention of an invigilator and explain that you are feeling unwell – you will be given the opportunity to leave the exam room for a short time to see if you feel better, or you will be allowed to go straight home if you feel that would be better for you.
You should contact the student office as soon as you are well enough to advise them of your circumstances email@example.com
The invigilator will also contact the Exams, Awards & Graduation team, who will notify your faculty on your behalf
Decisions regarding ability to participate in placement will be made on a case-by- case basis. If you are in this situation then please contact the student office (fmed- firstname.lastname@example.org) and placements team (email@example.com) to explain your situation and they will direct you and assist with the process.
Leave for hospital appointments can be arranged as per the absence request criteria above. If you need to have an operation, then this should be arranged for holiday periods whenever possible. It is important to note that that absence from placement for 4 continuous weeks or more will generally result in suspension from the year and will require an application to repeat that year of study in the following academic year. Therefore, if your operation will require a period of time to recover post-op where you will not be able to attend placement you must take this into consideration.
Further advice can be sought from the disability senior tutor – Dr Serena Cottrell S.Cottrell@soton.ac.uk (telephone 023 8120 6586 for an appointment)
Talk to them directly – encourage them to contact the services listed below or their personal academic tutor (particularly if course related)
Contact Student Life (a 24/7 service dedicated to supporting student wellbeing)- call +44(0)23 8059 8180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speak to a senior tutor – this is best done through contacting the student office (email@example.com), as they will be able to contact the senior tutor who is most likely to be available in a timely manner (not all senior tutors work full time)
Lack of energy or feeling tired all the time
Lack of interest in things they previously enjoyed doing (e.g. hobbies/spending
time with friends)
Restlessness and agitation
Having difficulty sleeping (or sleeping more than usual)
Poor appetite, which may lead to weight loss
Smoking and/or drinking more than usual, or using drugs
A feeling of dread
A feeling of being “on-edge”
Circumstances outside of our control sometimes occur in life, and this may require missing a day(s) of placement. This may include having to go to your hometown to attend to a family emergency or if you were to be acutely admitted to hospital. To keep things simple at this time we simply encourage you to inform the student office of who you are, what has happened (does not have to be in detail) and what you will be missing (ie. placement/exams/lectures) so they can contact the relevant people for you in what may be a distressing time.
Inform the student office (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Inform the student office (email@example.com)
You may or may not want to cc your placement coordinator, personal academic tutor or supervisor into your email to the student office. This is up to you as the student office will ensure that relevant people are informed in this situation.
In a sad situation, such as the death of a loved one, it is understandable to require some time to mourn and to miss some days of university to show your respects at a funeral.
Inform the student office (via firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you feel like you need further support, or someone to talk to, then contact a senior tutor or your personal academic tutor. Your MedSoc welfare rep is always at hand to have a listening ear and provide a cup of tea!
You may be eligible to apply for special considerations as per guidelines
Enabling services. To make an appointment email (email@example.com) or call +44 (0)23 8059 7726 (EXT: 27726).
Faculty disability coordinator – Dr Serena Cottrell (Telephone 023 8120 6586 for an appointment)
This list is not exhaustive but examples of conditions which should be reported to the faculty include: diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, significant mental illness, chronic mobility issues, chronic fatigue, severe allergies (especially latex), malignancies, any other condition which requires regular medical appointments and/or treatment.
Conditions where a student may be at particular risk to self while on placement (e.g. latex allergy) or where there may be a risk to patients (e.g. Hepatitis C positive) should be reported and will require input from Occupational Health.
Contact Dr Serena Cottrell (as above)
Contact Enabling Services
If you are on placement then you should consider contacting Occupational Health via the senior tutors. The medical school works closely with Occupational Health to ensure students are getting enough support, and this is good practice for your future career. Occupational Health conversations/consultations are confidential, and they will only inform the University with things agreed by the student.
The faculty are currently running a pilot scheme for students on clinical placements – the ‘Health Passport’. This passport is designed for students with chronic health conditions that vary in severity. With conditions which vary in severity, when you are in a well-controlled phase you may not wish to share your condition with every placement supervisor/coordinator. However, the Health Passport would enable you to let your placement team know that you have been seen by a senior tutor/disability officer and Enabling Support for a longstanding health condition. This may allow adjustments to be made to your placement which may include time off for health reasons/to attend a specialist appointment.
The Health Passport is currently being run as a pilot scheme within the faculty. To get involved or to find out more, contact Serena Cottrell at S.Cottrell@soton.ac.uk.
Students with a disability, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia) may be eligible to receive additional arrangements for exams (for example extra time, use of a word processor or smaller exam rooms)
Enabling Services are the University’s team who assist with arrangements for exams. You can make an appointment to discuss this further with a member of the team (email firstname.lastname@example.org) or call +44 (0)23 8059 7726 (EXT: 27726)). More details are available at https://www.southampton.ac.uk/edusupport/study_support/index.page
Details of the faculty’s policies regarding adjustment for exams for specific disabilities are available on blackboard:
Blackboard homepage >> Assessment >> Policies and Guidance
As students, sometimes things outside of our control may impact on our ability to fully immerse ourselves in our studies. If this is the case, then you may be eligible for special considerations or coursework extensions on your work.
To find where to apply for this follow the following steps on Blackboard:
Undergraduate handbook >> Assessment >> Special Considerations and coursework extensions.
On this part of Blackboard you will find a link to the Southampton University Assessment section which has guidance on filling in a Special Considerations request form as well as a downloadable version of the form to be filled in.
The form along with supporting evidence (which is a requirement for any application based on medical grounds) should be submitted to the Exams and Assessment Office in the Faculty of Medicine (SGH, AB224 or email@example.com) as soon as possible, but normally not more than five working days after any assessment or deadline may have been affected by exceptional circumstances.
You may contact the following people for further advice, although this is not required for a special considerations application:
1) Your personal academic tutor
2) The senior tutor for your academic year
firstname.lastname@example.org 02380 595571
T.J.Davies@soton.ac.uk 02380 595571
J.Culpin@soton.ac.uk 02381 206585
S.Hughes@soton.ac.uk 02381 206585
3) The Student’s Union advice centre - https://www.susu.org/support/advice- centre.html
4) Enabling Services - https://www.southampton.ac.uk/edusupport
It is not uncommon for a student to fail an exam or more than one exam throughout the course of medical school. If this happens to you it is understandable that you will feel disappointed and anxious about the consequences of failing an exam. Most students who fail exams go on to pass at a subsequent attempt and go on to become fantastic doctors!
If you fail an exam you will be informed on results day of the process that follows (ie. when retakes are). A very long email is sent to you along with your results and it is important that you read all of the information in this email. It will include further information on who to contact if you have any further questions or wish to appeal a mark. We encourage you to contact your personal academic tutor or a senior tutor if you have any further questions or require support.
Sometimes students may not pass a clinical placement. This may, for example, be due to not being present for enough time to meet the learning outcomes.
If you fail a clinical module you will be required to refer in the summer period immediately following summer exams (ie. after BM5 year 3/BM4 year 2 exams or after BM year 4 exams). If you fail a clinical module in final year the referral period will be after the summer supplementary examination period ie. June. The amount of time to be made up will normally be determined by the module lead. If you fail clinical modules in BM year 4 you may be able to conditionally progress to year 5 and undertake your referral time during the year 5 SSU module (it will be arranged that you must start year 5 on the SSU module, and pass this module, in order to progress to complete year 5).
If you fail a number of clinical modules such that there is not enough time in the referral period to make up for all failed clinical modules you will be recommended to suspend from your current year of study and return in the following academic year (ie. repeat a year).
If you have failed a module and there are unforeseen exentuating circumstances which may have impacted on your clinical study, you may apply for special considerations for your failed module.
Studying medicine comes with a huge financial burden for many of us. We understand sometimes this can be particularly stressful and this can impact the ability to perform academically. As always, if you are struggling, please talk to your personal academic tutor or the senior tutor for your year (via fmed- email@example.com).
The first fund to be applied to should be the University of Southampton Support Fund http://www.southampton.ac.uk/studentservices/money-matters/student- support-fund/application-process.page?
If unsuccessful – try applying to the Faculty of Medicine support fund. This application requires the following to be sent to the student admin team at StudentOffiice.FM@soton.ac.uk
Evidence of your unsuccessful application to the University’s Student Support fund
Covering letter for your explanation (the more detail the better!)
Year 1 - Students are required to contribute the first £3,465 towards tuition fees. Student Finance cover the remainder should you wish to apply.
Years 2, 3 & 4 - The NHS provide a bursary to cover £3,715 of tuition fees, with eligible students receiving Student Finance loans making up the rest. During this period, you may also apply for grant of £1000 to help with living costs; this can be increased through means testing up to £2,643 for a standard 30-week year.
Additional financial support is available from the NHS for childcare & dependants’ allowance.
NHS bursary provides funding covering your fees from your fifth year of study onwards.
This includes an intercalated year – so if you intercalate you get your BM5 year 4 and BM5 final year payed for by the NHS!
There is also a means tested grant included in the NHS bursary, and you can claim travel expenses for travel to placement via their application system.
You are no longer allowed to apply for student finance when eligible for NHS bursary.
Information on how to apply is emailed to you during the year before you become
eligible – if you intercalate be careful to look out for this during your intercalated year!
There are some bursaries available to students presenting their research at national/international conferences. Find details of these at: Blackboard > Undergraduate Handbook > Financial Support > Studentships, Scholarships and Conference attendance bursaries.
Many students self-fund their electives through savings obtained throughout their course and with the help of family. Understandably this is not appropriate for everyone and therefore there are some bursaries available to assist with the cost of an elective in final year.
The Leonard Thomas elective bursary (£500-£1000) – details and application form can be found at Blackboard > Undergraduate Handbook > Financial Support > Elective bursaries
Medical Women’s’ Federation – provides support for female medical students on elective: http://www.medicalwomensfederation.org.uk
Often through designing research to be completed during your elective you will become eligible to apply for more bursaries and therefore this is something to consider when thinking about your elective. The various Royal Colleges often have grants for electives with a research element. Details of this are available on their websites.
BMA charities holds an annual application process for medical students in financial difficulty while undertaking a second degree. See https://www.bma.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/bma-charities for details.
You can request suspension from your BM programme, either for a whole academic year or partway through the year.
Talk to the senior tutor for your year (via firstname.lastname@example.org)
Contact the student office (email@example.com)
Complete the suspension request form in the undergraduate handbook on Blackboard and provide any relevant supporting evidence/documentation
Your application will be considered by the Student Progress Committee
A suspended year normally will count towards the maximum number of years (which is usually 7 calendar years in the BM5 programme, 6 years for BM4, 8 years for BM6). In some exceptional circumstances a suspended year may not count, but this is at the discretion of the Student Progress Committee. You will be informed of your stance re. maximum years after confirmation of suspension.
Don’t forget to consider how deferring a year may impact on your eligibility for Student Finance (contact them directly regarding your situation), and your financial standing with your landlord/halls of residence.
Students returning to years 0-4
If you suspend part-way through a year you would normally be expected to complete the full academic year again (however this may be contested and agreed with the Student Progress Committee in exceptional circumstances)
If you suspend on health grounds you may require a review by Occupational Health prior to your return.
It is not normally possible to suspend after the main examinations but before the supplementary examinations. If you feel that you have grounds to not sit the supplementary examinations this requires an application for special considerations with a request to allow an additional attempt.
Students returning to final year
Students may be permitted to return to complete part of year 5 depending on when their period of suspension commences, as follows:
If you suspend before taking the year 5 examinations in the January/February period, you would normally be expected to return to complete the full academic year.
If you suspend having taken but not passed the year 5 examinations would normally be expected to return to complete the full academic year.
If you suspend having successfully completed and passed year 5 examinations in the January/February period, you would normally be expected to return to complete your elective and assistantship but not the rest of the academic year.
Many of us decide that we would like to study medicine at a relatively young age, and, upon progression through the course, you may decide that studying medicine is in fact something that you are not sure you want to do. This is okay. But it is a big decision to make.
Before you make any big decisions, you should discuss this with others. Here’s a list of a few people you may want to contact:
Your personal academic tutor
The senior tutor for your year (via firstname.lastname@example.org)
Your friends and family – they will be able to support you through this decision both short-term and long-term. It can be difficult to speak to friends and family at times like this, but they are often some of the most important people to get involved and help you decide what is best for you.
The Medsoc welfare rep is available to talk things through with you if you feel unable to speak to anyone else or would like the opinion of another student.
Ultimately this is YOUR decision and if you decide that studying medicine is not for you then the following protocol should be followed.
Further information can be obtained from the University careers service
Your personal academic tutor may be able to help you think about your future prospects or suggest people you can contact.
Fasting is a medical intervention that is becoming more known in the field of healthcare. It involves a full or partial abstinence from food, drink and/or other factors, and it can be performed for a number of reasons, including religious, health and fitness promoters.
Ramaḍān is the ninth month of the Islāmic lunar calendar. It is observed by Muslims across the world, and it involves abstaining from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn (Fajr time) till sunset (Maghrib time). From sunset till dawn, one can eat, drink and have sexual relations. It is best to break one’s fast with dates, as these contain a good amount of sugars to help the body when one starts to break a fast. As for the preparation for the next day, it is strongly advised to have a meal just before dawn that will help sustain you during the next day. In addition, Muslims also observe additional prayers during the night time during this month.
So how can this affect medical students and doctors in the UK? While one might first think of hunger and thirst, the main issue can be tiredness and sleep schedule changes. As the Islāmic calendar is lunar, Ramaḍān is currently in the summer season, which means that days are long and nights are short, and this leads to more hours of fasting and fewer hours to eat and drink. And with the additional prayers that many observe, fewer hours of rest and sleep are taken by individuals. An advantage in the UK, however, is that the summers are not as hot as in other countries.
It is important to plan one’s day in advance during Ramaḍān as someone working in healthcare. For this, some of the main advice includes:
Having a nap in the late afternoon to before sunset to help compensate for any time lost during the night.
Eating slow energy releasing foods, especially at the meal before dawn, to allow the body to have a stable supply of energy throughout the morning and day rather than have a short quick supply of energy that would not last long. This includes high-fibre foods, oats and dairy products.
Meals at sunset and dawn can be found at local mosques or your university’s Islāmic society, and this can be an easy way to find meals when you have little time due to studies or placements.
One of the better times to study would be in the morning, as this is a time when the body still has energy from previous meals, and the brain is fresh from sleeping to absorb information.
These are specific cases that need to be explored. Speak to your local Imām at your mosque or to your hospital’s Muslim chaplain.
Credit to Hisham Ghabra
Your performance as a healthcare professional can directly or indirectly impact patient wellbeing
The GMC provides guidance on health and illness to prevent illness from being passed on to patients
They also give us direction to prevent malpractice in a situation where judgement or performance may be affected by a condition or its treatment
Illness is not the only way that health may impact patients. Stress, anxiety, drugs and alcohol abuse may leave you unfit for practice, jeopardising patient safety
You must be sufficiently immunised against common serious communicable diseases
You must be registered with a GP outside of your family
You should refrain from treating yourself and consult your GP when unwell
Doctors and medical students are human and can become unwell with physical and mental illness, just like anyone else
If you suffer with a long-term illness or disability, please contact the Faculty of Medicine as per guidance
Social media use has become increasingly popular in recent times, and most of us today cannot go a day without checking Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp or other sites and apps.
Your presence on social media represents you as a medical student and may be accessible by the public, therefore it is important to understand your responsibilities as a medical student using social media.
There have been events where professionals have been penalised for what they have posted on social media and this is important as a medical student.
Check the privacy settings on your accounts. Many sites allow you to change your settings so you do not come up in searches or so only friends of friends can add you – this might help if a patient tries to look up your name!
Even if your privacy settings are at the most secure, many of us have hundreds/thousands of ‘friends’ on social media, who are all capable of screenshotting posts which may be ‘unprofessional’ – so think about who you are sharing with.
Never share patient-identifiable information online. Often when people do use patient identifiable information it is accidental. This includes use of patient information in group chats.
Before posting on social media stop and think, “Would I be happy if a patient read this/ saw this photo?” If the answer is no, then rethink before you post!
If you are angry, tired or otherwise impaired (e.g. under the influence of alcohol) you should avoid posting on social media as your judgement is impaired – and you may regret your decisions.
Do not post complaints about placement supervisors, medical school or your peers.
Social media is a fantastic resource to express our views and this is not what the GMC is discouraging. But if you try to follow the above rules and always stop to think if you would be happy if the faculty/a patient saw your post, then you should not get into any trouble!
When you are on placement outside the Southampton border and the faculty has not provided a means of getting there (ie. taxi/minibus), you are able to claim for your travel expenses. Keep all receipts for train/bus/parking tickets if you wish to claim for them.
Blackboard homepage >> Undergraduate handbook >> Travel claims >> Travel claim forms and criteria for claiming travel
All information is available on this part of Blackboard. You must complete both the AP03 travel and expenses form AND the supplementary travel information forms.
If you are on NHS bursary you may claim for travel via your NHS BOSS account. On here you need to fill in a form and send it to the Faculty of Medicine (fmed- email@example.com) who will confirm your claim prior to sending it on to NHS bursaries.
Travel costs are not included in the standard University fees. In some years you travel further than in others e.g. in MiP in the first two years the faculty pays for taxis to and from MiP placements for those based outside Southampton. In the later years, students based away from Southampton are also reimbursed for petrol/car usage/mileage or public transport costs, usually via claiming from the individual placements.
The Faculty ask for a contribution of £100 per student per year to help towards travel costs, and additionally subsidises our student travel costs by about £400 per student. The system works fairly because everyone pays this equal annual amount of £100, evening out the costs so that students on more distant placements are not paying higher costs than those at closer placements.
If the financial burden is too great, then this £100 payment can be split into three payments across the year.
Credit to Rebecca McCarthy, MedSoc Welfare Rep 2018-19