How your donations are helping medical students in hardship

The current cost of living crisis is placing extra strain on a cohort of medical students who were already facing steep challenges. The tragic result is that many passionate and dedicated medical students are at risk of having to leave their course – to give up their dream career – thanks to financial pressures beyond their control.

Going to university is more expensive than ever, and studying medicine has additional extra costs. From diagnostic equipment and professional clothing, to travel fees and living costs while on placements, things can easily add up. An RMBF survey showed that 60% of medical students had experienced financial pressures while at university, and over 40% said that they or someone they knew had considered withdrawing as a result of financial pressure.

When a student is already under financial pressure, an unexpected change in circumstances can be a real blow. They may have to leave a part-time job due to injury or illness, leaving them with a shortfall. Or they might sadly lose a parent who was helping to support them, causing financial hardship on top of bereavement.

“Some breathing space can make a huge difference”

Thankfully, this is where your support can make a vital intervention. Your donations can help prevent a talented medical student being lost to the profession, and instead ensure they go on to qualify and save lives as a doctor.

“Medicine is an enormously demanding course of study, so when hit with unexpected crisis, it’s understandable that students can struggle,” says RMBF Chief Executive, Steve Crone. “A grant to cover essential living expenses, to give some breathing space for a while, can make a huge difference – now more than ever.

“If a talented and dedicated medical student has to leave their course when within touching distance of qualifying, it’s not only a tragedy for the student, but also a big loss to the NHS. That’s especially true when parallel pressures are seeing existing doctors leave the profession, or question their future as a doctor.”

Over 90% of the medical students receiving financial help from the RMBF have either gone on to qualify as doctors, or are expected to within two years

The RMBF provides financial support to students in their final two years who are facing unexpected financial hardship. But we also recognise that it is not only later-year students who can benefit from support. That’s why your donations also help us to provide a range of practical online resources for students of all years.

Online money advice

Thanks to a partnership with Leeds University Union, any current or aspiring medical student can access free individual money advice, tailored to their unique circumstances, via our website. All enquiries are confidential, and our advisers are experienced in the ins and outs of applying for financial assistance.

80 medical students received individual online money advice via our website in 2022

The most common type of enquiry by far over the year was finding emergency or hardship funding, which underlines how serious the situation can be when students are hit with unexpected difficulties. Nearly half of students who received advice were studying medicine as a second degree, which can be a particular challenge as graduate students are not entitled to a government maintenance grant or a tuition fee loan.

Practical information

Another way we are able to help students navigate the financial pitfalls of their course is by collating information on what funding students are entitled to, and where they can find additional support. Our Advice Hub articles explain the different funding entitlements for students in the four countries of the UK, as well as listing application deadlines for support each academic year.

They also list organisations that offer bursaries and grants, funding for electives, and awards and prizes (such as essay competitions). There is advice on financial support for students who are ill or disabled, plus our Vital Signs for Medical Students guide, which offers advice on navigating the mental stresses of studying to be a doctor.

Self-guided help

Our online wellbeing resource, provided by Rightsteps, offers instant access to expert, practical wellbeing advice on a vast range of topics – from anxiety and low mood, to relationship worries, and support for those struggling with drugs or alcohol.

70% of students say that the Covid pandemic has impacted their mental health either negatively or very negatively

The different types of module fit well around a medical student’s busy schedule. There are quick, ten-minute primers that can help students centre their thinking around a topic, but there are also longer courses of self-guided support, which explore issues in much more depth than most other online wellbeing resources.

A sense of community

Contributing to a good cause can also have benefits for wellbeing, and volunteering for the RMBF is a fun and rewarding way to help create a sense of community at university. Medical student volunteers can access resources, training and guidance, and there are great networking opportunities too.

Many of our fantastic student volunteers have already gone on to qualify as doctors, helping to support their colleagues by spreading the word and fundraising for the RMBF.

Making it possible

A huge thank you to all of our supporters – your kind donations are what have enabled us to develop this holistic support programme for medical students, alongside providing the same type of help for doctors and their families in need, as we have done for over 180 years.