FMHS Fitness to Practise Policy


Application


Health professional students and staff members of the FMHS at the University.

Note - The fitness to practise regime applies to health professional students whether they are on campus, on placement or elsewhere.

Purpose


To ensure that health professional students are fit to practise according to the requirements of their professional programme of study.

The primary purposes of this policy are:

  • to ensure public and patient safety
  • to uphold professional standards, including relevant professional codes of conduct, and
  • to contribute to the maintenance of the reputation of the relevant profession and public confidence in that profession

Within FMHS, fitness to practise also involves education, and putting in place remedial and support mechanisms to enable the student to remain in the programme of study in situations where the proposed remedial action does not place the public, the student or the University at risk, either during the student's period of study or following graduation.

The FTP Procedures provide clear direction as to how this policy is to be implemented, and the supporting FTP Guidelines provide further background, FAQs, illustrative cases and guidance on how the policy may best be applied. 

Background


Health professional students are part of their respective health professions. While they are not yet bound by the full professional constraints imposed upon practising health professionals, it is important that issues that may affect their future fitness to practise are fairly and transparently addressed.

Consideration of health professional students’ fitness to practise applies from the time they apply for admission to the programme until they achieve registration with their professional body (including students who have successfully completed their programme of study). This policy is not intended, however, to encompass minor issues that often arise during the natural pathway through a student’s course of study. In most cases an issue will be resolved at an early stage, with the student’s cooperation.

The clear and stated linking of this policy with the professional standards expected by the relevant health professional regulatory body established under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 aims to ensure that health professional students will meet the standards expected for them to become registered health professionals in their chosen field of practice.

Policy


1.    Students who become aware that they are suffering from any medical or personal condition which may compromise their fitness to practise and which may lead them to having to defer or discontinue their programme of study must advise the relevant director of student affairs at the earliest opportunity.

2.    To meet legal and ethical responsibilities, staff members involved in any health professional programme must take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of harm to patients by students of FMHS.

3.    This policy and its supporting procedures and guidelines encompass fitness to practise concerns in three areas:

  • Health or personal issues
  • Professional attitudes
  • Issues external to the programme

4.    Concerns in each of these areas are to be classified into one of the following three groups:

  • Non-critical
  • Critical
  • Extraordinarily critical

5.    Fitness to practise issues are to be dealt with and disposed of in accordance with this policy and the applicable FTP Procedures.

6.    Where a student is being investigated with regard to a fitness to practise matter, and there is a concern that the student’s attitudes or behaviour are inappropriate, offensive, disruptive, or may pose a risk to the welfare of any party, the Deputy Dean may suspend the student from lectures, classes and any clinical attachments, or place such conditions on the student's study and/or clinical placement as may be reasonably necessary to mitigate that risk pending the outcome of the investigation.

7.    The FTP Committee panel has the power to decide:

  • that the student is fit to practise and:
    • is permitted to continue in the programme without change
    • is permitted to continue in the programme subject to such conditions imposed by the panel and/or
    • with a warning placed on the student's file
  •    that the student is not fit to practise and:
    • must suspend his/her studies until such time as any undertakings by the student or conditions imposed by the panel have been fully met
    • must re-sit a specified part or parts of the programme
    • must undertake an occupational health check and/or a professional psychological assessment
    • must undertake any other action considered appropriate by the panel to enable the student's successful completion of the remainder of the programme

8.    If the panel does not reach a unanimous decision, the majority decision will prevail. Where necessary, the chair of the FTP Committee panel will have a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote.

9.    Where the panel decides that the student is not fit to practise the panel may recommend to the Dean that the student's enrolment in the programme be terminated.

10.    On receipt of such recommendation, the Dean may terminate the student's enrolment in the programme.

11.    Any application made by the student to re-enrol in such programme may likewise be declined by the Dean.

12.    Where the FTP Committee panel decides that the student is not fit to practise or decides to impose conditions on the student’s continuance in the programme, but does not recommend to the Dean that the student’s enrolment in the programme be terminated, the student may appeal to the DVC(A) against the panel’s decision.

13.    Where the Dean terminates the student’s enrolment in the programme on the FTP Committee panel’s recommendation, the student may appeal to the DVC(A) against the Dean's decision.

14.    The only grounds for appeal are that there was a failure of the University’s process and/or the basis of the decision was substantially at odds with the evidence. Any appeal must be notified in writing to the DVC(A) within four weeks of the decision being notified to the student. When submitting the appeal, the student must clearly identify the grounds of the appeal and provide sufficient supporting details.

15.    The DVC(A) may decline to consider an appeal that is brought out of time, that does not clearly identify the grounds on which it is sought, or that does not provide sufficient supporting details. If the DVC(A) decides to consider the appeal, the DVC(A) will address, but is not necessarily limited to, the matters raised by the student. The decision of the DVC(A) is final. 

16.    All health professional students are to be referred to the FMHS Code of Fitness to Practise. At the commencement of their studies within the professional programme, and at the beginning of each year of the professional programme, each student must declare their acceptance to study within the requirements of the Code.

17.    FMHS staff members are to read and familiarise themselves with the Code.

Definitions


For the purpose of this document:

Code refers to the FMHS Code of Fitness to Practise.

Dean refers to the Dean of FMHS

Deputy Dean refers to the Deputy Dean of FMHS.

Director of student affairs refers to the director of student affairs of the medical programme or equivalent role in an FMHS school.

DVC(A) refers to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic.

FMHS refers to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University.

FMHS Code of Fitness to Practise comprises the FMHS Fitness to Practise Framework, the FTP Policy, the FTP Procedures and FTP Guidelines (under development).

FTP Committee panel means the Fitness to Practise Committee panel.

FTP Guidelines means the FMHS Fitness to Practise Guidelines.

FTP Policy means the FMHS Fitness to Practise Policy.

FTP Procedures means the FMHS Fitness to Practise Procedures.

Health profession means the practice of a profession in respect of which an authority is appointed under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, and includes the practice of dietetics, practice of medicine, practice of nursing, practice of optometry, practice of medical imaging and practice of pharmacy.

Health professional student refers to a student on a programme of study delivered by FMHS leading to a new registration status in a health profession (i.e. pre-registration student), and to a student undertaking continuing professional development or advanced studies relating to their health profession which does not lead to a new registration status. 

Panel means the Fitness to Practise Committee panel.

Practice area refers to the practice of a health profession.

Staff member refers to an individual employed within FMHS whether on a full or part time basis, and includes an independent contractor

Student means a health professional student. 

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries. 

Note - For the purposes of the University's Policy Framework Policy, the FMHS Code of Fitness to Practise constitutes a standard.

Document management and control


Owner: Deputy Dean FMHS

Content manager: As appointed by the Deputy Dean of FMHS

Approved by: Dean of FMHS

Date approved:  20 November 2018     

Review date: 20 November 2021