Should my DC admit she has Aspergers when applying for medicine?

(33 Posts)
user1464118261 Fri 31-Mar-17 12:28:26

My DC has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. It is not obvious she has it but she does take slightly longer to answer questions but is intelligent. She has done a lot of work experience for medicine and is predicted A*AAA in her A levels with very good GCSE. The question is should she declare her Aspergers on her application? I approached one medical school and they were very very dismissive of any support being given at interview or that it was possible to train as a doctor with Aspergers. Can MNs give me some advice? My feeling is she would make a good doctor but is not material to specilise in some thing like emergency medicine.

OP’s posts: |
blue2014 Fri 31-Mar-17 12:38:08

I know a few doctors with aspergers so I don't see why she can't do it. My gut instinct is to declare it, but then I have dyslexia and I only ever declare it to my boss after I've got the job! So ... that wasn't really that helpful an answer shock

Gannet123 Fri 31-Mar-17 12:51:57

Medical Schools are bound by the Equality Act just as any other part of a university, so they must offer reasonable adjustments to applicants (and students) with disabilities and may not discriminate against them. However, as I understand it, and I'm not directly involved with med school admissions, the main issue is with the fitness to practice rules, and, I suspect, particularly in terms of the ability to engage empathically with patients and work effectively with colleagues. They shouldn't dismiss someone out of hand because of having Aspergers, but will want to make their own evaluation. I think fitness to practice goes across the board, so you can't be fit to practice in some areas but not others. So they can't reject her out of hand because of a declaration of Asperger's, but they can judge that an individual at interview, or through her studies, is not able to fulfil fitness to practice standards because of behaviours which are related to her Aspergers syndrome - they have to see it as a case by case, however.
On that basis, I think it's important that she does declare. If fitness to practice issues are come up during interview or during her studies, there may be an argument that failure to declare shows a lack of self awareness, which will count against her, whereas if she declares, one possible outcome may be that with self-awareness and a bit of support she can attain the fitness to practice standard.
I think there are various bits and bobs on the Medical School Council webpages:
and all universities should have policies online about candidates with disabilities.

SlinkyTink Fri 31-Mar-17 18:02:53

Apart from being a little slow to answer questions how else does her Aspergers effect her?

I'm really curious which medical school was dismissive of her. confused

Have you looked on TheStudentRoom for info. A quick look showed a few threads E.G. HERE

SlinkyTink Fri 31-Mar-17 18:13:59

I couldn't be bothered reading it (sorry 😂) but here is a 2012 GMC Report of the group leading the review of health and disability in medical education and training. It says that 6.5 % of medical students declare a disability.

SlinkyTink Fri 31-Mar-17 18:22:59

HERE are the current GMC guidelines for medical school and disabled applicants 'Advising medical schools: encouraging disabled students'

SlinkyTink Fri 31-Mar-17 18:38:48

HERE is a BMJ article about a Doctor with aspergers 2004


MedSchoolRat Fri 31-Mar-17 20:36:06

(I'm involved with interviews but not au fait with the giant machine that is our admissions process)

My first thoughts were...

We ask questions that (predictably) have to do with empathy, teamwork & personal resilience. All the time on here I read stories by parents of kids with ASD about how their kid struggles with empathy, teamwork & resilience. Certainly your child is an individual.. but are they sure that medicine is a good choice for them?

user1464118261 Fri 31-Mar-17 21:45:37

My DC has slighly slow processing skills which I feel could influence outcome but when I discussed it with the Admissions Team at said medical school they said no allowence could be made. I felt they seemed to be breaking disability law as I know how much they do to accomadate physical disability but I could be wrong. My DC has demonstated empathy and resilence when on volentary work in hospital. She has been complemented on her ability to stay calm and not become emotionally involved as others of her age have done. I think I need to phone GMC re fitness to practise and find out what that means in practise. I think alot of medics don't really understand the difference between male and female people with Aspergers so when the word is mentioned they have a preconceived idea of what it means which may not relate to the reality of my DCs symptoms.

OP’s posts: |
PitilessYank Fri 31-Mar-17 21:49:36

How would it benefit her to declare it on her applications, rather than once she has been admitted, if it is not very apparent that she has it?

A bit of latency when being asked questions during a medical school interview is probably not a bad thing; it makes it obvious that the answers are not canned.

leghoul Fri 31-Mar-17 22:01:36

In my experience, medical schools disability teams (usually an advisor) are pretty good - to students, once students are on the course. This might mean looking at adjustments where possible, giving a small amount of extra time in exams.
I would not declare it until she has a place. If she has a place, enrols, starts, and then emails the disability advisor and they put it on record etc, that's entirely different, and I think the better order to do it in. They're allegedly supportive bound by equality act blablabla but actually ftp panels can be like a kangaroo court where whatever their opinion is goes and is largely unchallengeable - and I've known people who have been thrown out of medical school after declaring disabilities (but really, they also didn't pass exams) - but it sets a chill in the air depending on who is making up the decision making panel
There is also a dash of stigma still about specific learning disabilities and things which people may struggle to understand, like Aspergers or ADHD, which is entirely unfair and you'd hope wouldn't happen ina. Medical school. But again, I'd still wait til she has the place before saying anything. A lot of medics have disabilities (lots are dyslexic) but I am reliably informed there are quite a few students and faculty who have other disabilities including autism, aspergers, adhd.
Some truly brilliant doctors have these and I don't think it's a barrier to practising, as long as she's aware of certain aspects she may struggle with and that's something she could discuss with the disability advisor once in. I think aspergers has always been quite underdiagnosed in girls in particular and there are probably a fair few out there in medical school/in work. The trick is passing the exams (lots of role play, often, but attentive listening can compensate hugely for other communication issues and many things can be learned well)
Sorry that was a very long post to say, yes tell them but I'd tell them after she's got and accepted her place.

user1464118261 Fri 31-Mar-17 22:04:04

Good question! especially if only 6.5% of disabled people admit it anyway! And maybe thats the answer but I wanted to ask MNs what they thiught generally, there is so much expertise on this site!

OP’s posts: |
leghoul Fri 31-Mar-17 22:06:22

She might be brilliant at emergency medicine by the way! Takes a level head ...
I don;t think you'll get that far by phoning the GMC. .Perhaps havea. Look at medical schools council and see if you can contact them. It's certainly not a ftp issue as long as she can do the job and I'm sure she can. I just don't think it will help her in any way to declare it before she is given a place. Most students do not declare things before being given a place, rightly or wrongly, and it certainly won't be held against her not to as long as she does once she is enrolled if she finds she will require support with it.

StickyWick Fri 31-Mar-17 22:07:03

I don't know if this is of any interest or if it's up to date? Edinburgh medical students adjustments policy. It might give an indication as to what allowences can be made.

leghoul Fri 31-Mar-17 22:11:38

At the end of the day, she'll have to be able to do the job, she'll have to meet her placement requirements in clinical years and pass all her exams. Adjustments might be something like a bit of extra time in exams, or allowing breaks during exams which stop the clock. Medical schools always have a separate exam room running for those with special requirements. There may be advice specific to her though and areas she may struggle more with, that a disability advisor can help with once she's on the course.

ahamsternest Fri 31-Mar-17 22:12:44

She won't get any support at interview unless she declares it, so there's that to consider.

Once at medical school, she should disclose it or she will likely fall foul of fitness to practice policy.

leghoul Fri 31-Mar-17 22:19:16

Stickywick, that link's very interesting!

StickyWick Fri 31-Mar-17 22:21:54

What about UKCAT? It's all about speed. You can apply to sit the UKCATSEN (25% extra time) but then you have to supply evidence of your disability to the Universities you are applying to.🤔

I know not all medical schools use UKCAT but a lot do.

StickyWick Fri 31-Mar-17 22:23:05


Needmoresleep Fri 31-Mar-17 22:28:39

user1464118261, I am surprised. DD applied last year, admitted her surprisingly slow processing speeds and uploaded her latest edpsych report. She got three interviews and two offers. She had extra time for the UKCAT test (important in that it is in part a speed test) and interviews.

She is a little worried about the volume of work at medschool (she starts in September) but the fact that the University are aware of her issues but have accepted her none the less, is reassuring.

On balance she feels that being a bit different did her no harm. Though obviously she needed to also do well in interviews and get the grades. Hopefully her strengths will outweigh her weaknesses and she will be able to find a speciality that plays to those strengths (Oddly and mirroring an earlier poster, I can see her doing well in emergency medicine. She is very practical and calm.). If I were OP I would be encouraging her daughter to be open. It might mean that an interviewer might want to test potential weaknesses, but better at the beginning than at the end. I would also make sure that the PS and school reference evidenced her ability and willingness to do things that might be considered challenging for people with Aspergers, but important for medicine.

StickyWick Fri 31-Mar-17 22:38:53

On balance she feels that being a bit different did her no harm

I wonder if there might be a bit of truth in that too. I bet (hope?) that most medical schools don't won't anyone to be unfairly disadvantaged when they apply so i can see them double checking that applicants with disabilities are given a fair hearing. IYSWIM

Robin7 Fri 31-Mar-17 22:57:32

Practically I'm not sure how well a panel could make adjustments/allowances though? (Not saying they shouldn't, just pondering practicalities...)
The interview process is very much tailored to select for good communicators (not to say your daughter isn't, but if her ASD affects her communication in a pressurised situation obviously that could negatively impact interview performance). I don't think any panel would mark down someone who took a bit longer but answered effectively - but if their disability affected the quality of their answer, they'd have to score that objectively I suppose? Worth plenty of interview practice in advance to prepare for the situation. There'll be the obvious standard questions to prepare answers to which may give her confidence (why medicine, why here etc).
Anecdotally I think I've very likely trained with/worked with a few people with aspergers (although not necessarily diagnosed). So certainly don't think it's impossible but good insight and support would be important (as they are for any med student!).

MedSchoolRat Sat 01-Apr-17 08:58:59

(I had to google FTP panel... I don't know if a FTP panel is involved in our admissions process... we run MMI interviews, not panel interviews).

5 minute MMI sessions is a bit like 5 minute consultations, if they can't think on their feet for 7x5 minute MMI sessions, then maybe they won't be up to all day 7-9 minute consultations. It wouldn't be fair on patients and all the other candidates to select anyone without this criterion.

I agree that instant canned answers make interviewers uncomfortable. I wonder "Is a single word of this sincere or even true?" It's fine when students pause to think.

Everyone who gets thru to interview has great exam results, is highly intelligent. It's soft skills we try to assess in interviews. I see disability codes during interview but I don't know what they mean. I don't have specific guidance how to adjust my interview style or scoring. The codes must get accounted for somewhere else in the admissions machine.

I suppose I lean towards thinking if it was my DD (with OP's specific description) I would recommend don't declare it... so that she knew she got her place on a completely level playing field & no one could ever say different. Declare the ASD after admission so that she can get any support that might help her achieve her best.

StickyWick Sat 01-Apr-17 09:56:09

I think the UKCAT might be the biggest decider in this and might force the OPs DD to declare her aspergers beforehand.

It's really fast paced.

wizzywig Sat 01-Apr-17 11:26:54

I think its sad/telling that those interviwers may be ex or current doctors. If they dont know about autism and wont consider making adjustments, lord knows how they actually deal with patients with those conditions

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