Disability FAQs

Aston Medical School is committed to encouraging diversity and inclusivity so that our students are representative of the wider society with respect to ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, medical conditions and socio-economic background. It is essential that our doctors reflect the general population which they serve which includes those with physical, mental and other forms of disabilities which will not interfere with the medical student’s fitness to practice (Welcomed and Valued, GMC. 2019)  

Will my disability prevent me from studying medicine?

Most health conditions and impairments should not impede applicants from being accepted for the MBChB programme, but we have to ensure that students are capable, with support if needed, of acquiring the core clinical skills and competences set out by the General Medical Council in their document Outcomes for Graduates (GMC. 2019) We also have to ensure students are able to work safely with patients as we have a duty of care to patients as well as students.

When should I make medical schools aware of my disability?

Identifying the needs of our applicants early on in the admissions process will ensure that we provide optimal support, including any reasonable adjustments throughout the selection process. This will also ensure that when applicants satisfy the conditions of their offer and start at Aston Medical School, all reasonable adjustments are in place for them.

Once we make the conditional offer and the applicant accepts, they will be sent an Occupational Health questionnaire to assess their vaccination status and any health issues to ensure we identify relevant support and other requirements before they start the programme. The Higher Education Occupational Physicians/Practitioners (HEOPS) have published a document entitled Medical Students – Standards of medical fitness to train - which contains guidelines for the requirement for vaccinations, assessment to achieve outcomes in Outcomes for Graduates and assessment of functional capacity.

Please see the HEOPS document to check examples of the requirements in Outcome for Graduates and examples of impairment needing careful assessment to ensure safe medical practice.

What do I need to be able to do to be accepted on the MBChB medical programme?

In order to be accepted onto the MBChB medical programme you will need to go through two different assessments.

Assessments to achieve outcomes in ‘Outcomes for Graduates’

We have to ensure that medical students can meet all the outcomes in Outcomes for Graduates before they graduate. Some examples of these outcomes are listed below.

  • Take and record a medical history
  • Perform full physical and mental state examinations
  • Interpret findings from history, examination and investigations
  • Communicate effectively with patients and colleagues using spoken, written, electronic and non-verbal methods.
  • Recognise own personal health needs, consult and follow advice of a suitably qualified professional, and protect patients from any risk posed by own health

Assessment of functional capacity

We also need to make sure that students are fully assessed for impairment in the following areas to ensure patient safety. For applicants with disabilities who accept our offer of a place to study medicine, our Occupational Health Physician will assess them for the following and may include other assessments as necessary.

  • Mobility - This must be compatible with medical fitness standards in Outcomes for Graduates and Good Medical Practice. This includes the ability to be independently mobile, if necessary with appliances and the student must be able to undertake a full physical examination, avoiding injury to patients, colleagues and self.
  • Upper limb function - All students must have one fully functional upper limb and the other upper limb capable of forming a support. All students must have manual dexterity sufficient to perform all tasks listed in Outcomes for Graduates, such as venepuncture, arterial blood sampling and suturing.
  • Vision - N6 near vision is needed to read the 1mm text on an ampoule. N8 near vision is needed to detect a 3mm needle movement. 6/18 distance acuity is required to read digital monitor at the head of bed during CPR. 6/18 and N8 are the threshold for seeking the opinion of an Occupational Physician. All acuities are with correction.
  • Hearing - The ability to understand the human voice at 1 metre in a quiet room. Hearing loss of 40dB across all speech frequencies should be referred to the Occupational Physician. Assessment of hearing should be after correction with hearing aids and with additional aids such as electronic stethoscopes.
  • Speech - The ability to speak clearly in English and be understood at 3 metres in quiet room with background noise of no more than 60dB.
  • Literacy and Numeracy - This refers to the student’s ability rather than educational attainment. All students must be able to prescribe drugs safely and effectively, calculate accurate drug doses, keep accurate, legible and complete clinical records.
  • Skin function - Skin must have integrity compatible with protection of patients from increased risk of infection. This is especially so for the scalp, face and hands which cannot easily be covered with dressings. In accordance with Outcomes for Graduates students must be capable of following approved processes for cleaning hands before procedures or surgical operations.
  • Interruption of consciousness - The risk must be low enough to represent minimal risk to patients.
  • Concentration, awareness, memory and ability to learn and understand Students must be able to meet the medical competence standards in Outcomes for Graduates and Good Medical Practice in relation to spoken, written and electronic communication with patients, colleagues and carers, as well as the ability to undertake a full physical examination, including mental state examination. Students must have a full awareness of their own mental health, when to seek help and from whom. If a student is aware that they have a condition which could be transmitted to a patient, they must take and follow advice from a consultant in occupational health or from another suitably qualified doctor. If a student is aware that their judgement or performance could be significantly affected by a condition, they must take and follow advice from a consultant in occupational health or from another suitably qualified doctor. 
How will I be assessed?

It is essential that applicants declare any disabilities on their UCAS application form as this will help Aston Medical School to ensure we can offer appropriate support throughout the admissions process. It is important for you to know that our selection process is independent of the declaration of disability.

All applicants will be ranked according to their academic qualifications and UCAT score and those who are selected for interview will be asked if they require any reasonable adjustments and the admissions team will work with the Enabling Team at Aston University to ensure appropriate support is provided on the day.  This includes support for physical as well learning difficulties for example dyslexia, dyspraxia.

All applicants including those who have declared a disability and accept the offer (Firm and Insurance) of a place to study on the MBChB programme will be sent an Occupational Health Questionnaire by our Occupational Health Provider (PAM).

Applicants may be contacted by the admissions team to ask permission to refer them for assessment by the Occupational Health Physician to evaluate what support may be required to help the applicant if they fulfil the conditions of their offer and become students.


In some cases, following a report by the Occupational Health Physician, the applicant may be assessed by the Medical School for fitness to practice if their disabilities are such that the applicants cannot fulfil the core clinical skills and competences set out by the GMC’s Outcomes for Graduates.
What support will be offered?

Aston Medical School, being part of Aston University, has access to the University’s well-established and comprehensive student support system including the Enabling Team. Examples of reasonable adjustment support offered to students are given below.

  • Alternative exam arrangements such as additional time in formal exams and class tests, rest breaks, adapted papers e.g. enlarged font and a reader/scribe
  • Reasonable adjustments in lectures e.g. consent to record lectures, accessible teaching rooms, hand-outs and lecture slide presentations in advance of lectures
  • You can access the Learning Development Centre in the library for additional support with assessments
  • We also have assistive classroom technology available such as Texthelp Read & Write. You can see what assistive technology is available here
  • Extended library loans
  • Coping strategy tutorials to devise study techniques that are compatible with the type of disability you have
  • The combination of these and others will depend on the nature of your condition and how it affects your studies
What if I don't get the right help?

Aston Medical School is committed to supporting students with disabilities and providing an environment which is inclusive for all. If any applicant experience difficulties or feels disadvantaged at any stage in the admissions process at Aston Medical School, they are encouraged to contact the admissions team or use the email below. This will help us with our commitment to provide a fair and transparent admissions process for all.

Where can I find examples of medical students and doctors with disabilities?

The Disabled Doctors Network is a great resource that offers support to both medical students and doctors who suffer from chronic illness and physical disability.

We have also complied some information and stories from medical students and doctors with disabilities that you may find useful: 

Who should I contact with queries?

If you have any questions about disability, illness or other health related matters please send your enquiry by email to the admissions team at:

 medicalschool@aston.ac.uk

We encourage prospective applicants to email us with enquiries and we can discuss some key aspects of their disability early on and provide guidance, including;

  • Discussing the demands of the profession and jobs
  • Discussing support that may be available to ensure applicants will be able to complete the MBChB programme in line with the Outcomes for Graduates
  • Help individuals understand the requirement for support