Skip to main content

Prize for medical student tackling fear of speaking up

17 December 2019

Aisling Sweeney
Aisling Sweeney

A final-year medical student at Cardiff University has won a national competition designed to help students prepare for their future careers as doctors.

Aisling Sweeney, 23, created a workshop on the issue of speaking up as part of the competition, which was jointly organised by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Medical Schools Council (MSC).

The workshop covers empowering activities to help medical students feel more confident about speaking up, which is an important part of the lives of medical students and working doctors.

It was based around the GMC and MSC’s “Achieving good medical practice” guidance which states that medical students should speak up about:

  • Patient safety issues when on placement
  • Unprofessional behaviour of peers and healthcare professionals
  • Their own, and their peers, health and wellbeing

Aisling, who is based at the School of Medicine, said: “Taking care of others is the mainstay of being a doctor. I believe speaking up, when necessary, is imperative to not only patient care but to the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our colleagues too.

“As medical students we should be encouraged to raise concerns, understand that we have permission to do so and know that we will be supported by the profession if we do.”

Nearly 50 medical students from across the UK entered the competition which is now in its fifth year. Aisling, from Egham in Surrey, won a £300 prize and an opportunity to spend half a day shadowing Dr Henrietta Hughes, the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian for the NHS in England.

Aisling created three short training sessions that tackle how uncomfortable the thought of speaking up might make a medical student feel and worked through this issue using the guidance.

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards, who was on the judging panel, said it was “vital” students felt comfortable in speaking up which “we know it isn’t easy”.

Clare Owen, Assistant Director of the MSC, who was also on the judging panel, said Aisling’s entry stood out because it “really brought the subject alive”.

Professor Stephen Riley, the new Head of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “It’s fantastic to see another Cardiff University medical student winning one of the national prizes from the GMC. Aisling has done a great job of producing this teaching activity.”

Share this story

The School is a major international centre for teaching and research, and committed to the pursuit of improved human health.