May 28, 2024

Get tough on ethics education for doctors, says UK judge

Medical students should be weeded out if they fail to meet ethical standards, the chair of the British inquiry into the Shipman murders has told the General Medical Council. "I do think that both your profession and mine should be pretty tough on students who present with a history of past misconduct, or indeed those who get into trouble while on the course," said Dame Janet Smith. "That may sound harsh, but I think it is generally accepted that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour and that the main objective must always be the protection of the public."


Ethical education is essential in the medical curriculum, she said. "I would say that knowledge and skills can be enlarged and enhanced as you progress through your professional life but ethics and attitudes are fundamental and have to be planted right at the beginning." Dame Janet also proposed that medical students be placed on a medical register so that their conduct can be policed.