The student began her medical training in 2007 and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in 2014. In the same year she started the Master’s programme, in which medical students follow a medical internship.

Her first internship was terminated prematurely. There was said to be ‘extensive unprofessional behaviour’ that impeded mutual communication and even threatened patient safety. She started seeing a psychiatrist to find ways to cope with her ‘underlying hurt feelings and indignant attitude’.

But things continued to go badly, even though she continued her studies and had now reached the final stages of her degree programme. All she had to do was complete the final medical internship. Reports continued to come in during various internships and several supervisors and mentors doubted whether the student would be able to safely exercise the profession of doctor. The examining board and the dean found it too risky for patients, colleagues and bystanders to let the student graduate.

As of 1 May 2022, the student was expelled from the Medicine degree programme. The student opposed this decision, but the Administrative Jurisprudence Department of the Council of State upheld the verdict of the degree programme: the university was right to consider patient safety more important. This is the fourth time since 2010 that a medical student has been expelled.

Better off not becoming doctors

Last year, the examining boards of the medical degree programmes raised the alarm about the ‘iudicium abeundi’ (termination or refusal of enrolment). They saw students ‘who would be better off not becoming doctors’ but did not always have the opportunity to expel them from the degree programme, they wrote.

Since 2010, higher education programmes have been able to refuse or expel a student if they prove unsuitable for the profession ‘because of their behaviour or statements’. Former minister Plasterk introduced this measure at the time, following the case of a paedophile who wanted to study pedagogical sciences in 2007. The man in question was secretary of the Party for Neighbourly Love, Freedom and Diversity, also known as the ‘paedo party’. Three universities refused him admission, but the law did not actually clearly state that this was permitted.

No relaxation of the rules

The medical programmes also wanted to use these measures. However, the examining boards argued that the rules are too complicated. All the same, Minister Dijkgraaf said last year that he was not going to relax the rules. Forced deregistration may only take place in very exceptional circumstances, given the major consequences for the student. The degree programmes will need to approach the matter very carefully.

Dijkgraaf pointed out that they can improve the lessons on (and testing of) professionalism and specific competences. If students fail these tests, they will eventually drop out of the programme.

Degree programmes can also modify their own teaching and examination regulations, explained Dijkgraaf. For example, they could limit the number of resit opportunities and the term of validity of exams.


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