Who wants to be a medical student? An update from 2016’s first AMSA Council


By Josh Monester, 2016 AMSA representative

One of the reasons I love studying medicine is that our student community is one of the most diverse I have yet to come across. I’m proud that no matter who you are, where you live, or what you look like, anyone can apply to study medicine.

In response to the recent release of a draft document titled ‘Inherent requirements for studying medicine’ by the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ), we – at the first AMSA Council meeting of the year – spent a long time discussing who exactly is a medical student? And what should they be expected to do? If adopted, this document would serve as a guideline for medical schools to use at their discretion to justify the exclusion of students who don’t meet their stringent “fitness” criteria.

Some more controversial excerpts include:

  • A medical student is expected to demonstrate the ability to perform gross motor skills to perform […] cardiopulmonary resuscitation,
  • A medical student is expected to demonstrate […] one fully functional arm and the other capable of providing support.

At one point in the weekend we heard from Dinesh, a student from Griffith University in Queensland, who has been wheelchair-bound since a car accident several years ago. Dinesh can neither perform chest compressions, nor does he have even one fully functional arm. Should a person like Dinesh be excluded from studying medicine for these reasons? Surely not.

We thought that this document has it the wrong way around. From our perspective, we should be encouraging diversity of students (and future doctors), and finding ways to include them, not making excuses as to why they should not be allowed to practice medicine. What reason do we have to prohibit students from studying medicine purely on the basis of disability?

I think the more diverse and accepting of difference our profession is, the better off we will be. But you may disagree. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Australian Medical Students’ Association, or AMSA, represents the roughly 17,000 medical students across Australia’s twenty medical schools. If you are interested in getting involved, or would like to attend the future AMSA National Council event in Sydney (September), contact Josh and Lexi at amsa@mumus.org!

Are you someone with a disability studying medicine? If so, we’d love to hear more about your experiences at publications@mumus.org.


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