Student support

Student in discussion with a student support officer.

We take supporting our students very seriously at the Birmingham Medical School. Studying a five-year Medicine degree brings with it not only a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction but also times when you may require additional support to aid you through some of the tough and turbulent times you may face. We have a broad range of support available for all our students, from professionally trained staff to dedicated academic year tutors to student support groups.

Student Support in the College of Medical and Dental Science

Birmingham Medical School houses its own dedicated Student Services Centre which is open to all students studying at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences. The Student Services Centre helps students to settle into university life and supports students to deal with any problems that arise along the way.

Consisting of a number of experienced staff, the Student Services Centre offers many services, from drop in sessions for advice and guidance, referral to internal and external services, and support regarding extenuating circumstances. Staff are on hand to lend an ear and advise with personal problems and can deal with a wide range of issues.  

Student Support Team

“I was amazed at how social and friendly the environment was, especially early on with the role of MedSoc in helping the Freshers settle in. There were great support systems in place with student services and in particular my Medic 'parents' and 'siblings'. It all helped me settle in very quickly.”

person on screen with speech bubble

Ri Sivakumar, 2nd Year MBChB

Student Services Centre

The Student Services Centre offers three layers of support for all students which are delivered through numerous different University services. The three layers are:

  • Initial – Information, advice and guidance
  • Advanced – Advice and detailed guidance
  • Specialist – Skilled professional assessment, judgement and interventions

Our highly trained and competent Wellbeing Officers will work across the Initial and Advanced layers with onward referral for the Specialist layer whether that be academic or personal in nature. This is complementary to academic colleagues’ work as Personal Academic Tutors in areas of specialist academic judgement.

Student support is always available during working hours and offers a drop in service to all students for advice and guidance, referrals to internal and external support services and support regarding extenuating circumstances.

The Student Services Centre (SSC) is located in the Medical School building and is open from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, where students can be seen by a Wellbeing Assistant, and if needed a follow up appointment with a Wellbeing Officer or Year Tutor will be made. Appointments can also be requested by emailing or calling. For problems that fall outside working hours and weekends all students are provided with dedicated phone line numbers to call.

Most students refer themselves for student support however members of staff may suggest that you see us if they have concerns about you. Occasionally a senior member of staff will recommend that a student sees someone from the Wellbeing Team to make sure that they are receiving the help that they need at a difficult time. Very occasionally students may let us know that they are worried about a fellow student. In these instances we would ask the student to come and speak to a member of the Welfare Team so that we can put in place any help and support that is needed.

You can also book a telephone appointment to have a conversation with a member of the team. We prefer students to have a face-to-face conversation if at all possible, but there are times when a phone conversation might be easier, such as when you are away on placement.

Our support sessions are all geared towards identifying a plan to help you move forward. This plan will be agreed between you and the team member who meets with you, actions could include;

  • Suggesting you seek help from the University Counselling Service
  • Referring you to Disability or Mental Health Advisory Service
  • Referring you to academic support services
  • Suggesting you see your GP
  • Referring you to Occupational Health Services

Simply talking through your issues can often be a great help but staff will not necessarily be able to solve the problems you face; they will, however, provide you with support in deciding how best to deal with things, and they will support you while you access help from other places.

You may find that all you need is a one-off appointment, or you may need several visits. We welcome approaches from all students irrespective of how small or large they feel their problem is. 

Find out more about university student support

Mental health

It’s an unfortunate truth that medical students are at an increased risk of mental illness. Up to 4 out of 10 medical students will have an episode of mental illness at some point in their training. This is higher than the rate of mental illness in the general public which is 1 in 4.

We have a great deal of experience in successfully supporting students with mental health problems. We find that many students worry that telling us they are mentally ill will mean they cannot become a doctor. This is absolutely not true. We encourage students to talk to us so we can support them to be happy and healthy students, and ultimately successful doctors. 

LGBTQ Society

Lesbian? Gay? Bisexual? Transgender? Questioning?

Birmingham Medical School’s student LGBTQ society caters for all LGBTQ members. Whether you’re a true scene queen, a bit more low-key, or not quite ready to come out, all are welcome! The society is mainly a social group, where members can get to know LGBTQ students in other years, and holds a variety of social events each year.

When students feel that there are curriculum and professional issues that need to be raised, the LGBTQ Society supports them and give them a louder voice. They also have strong links with the national Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists (GLADD).

Our LGBTQ students are also active in raising awareness of LGBTQ issues, not only during their time at the University but also within medical professions. Our own students have already produced a ‘Stuff you should know about LGBTQ healthcare’ guide to enable students and current NHS staff to be better doctors to LGBTQ patients.