The 3 'E's - ethics, education, elearning


  • Max Schofield
  • Natashja Kasianczuk
  • Qasim Ali
  • Sabrina Jiwani
  • Samuel Evbuomwan
  • Elizabeth Chamberlain


Student as teacher


Kings College London


The Student Clinical Ethics Committee was established at King’s College London, School of Medicine in 2010. The SCEC acts as a student forum for discussion and reflection on ethical topics encountered by students in their clinical practice. Therefore supplementing core ethics teaching by raising awareness of common ethical issues faced.1

Figure 1. Set up of SCEC meetings

Case discussion topics have included:

  • Suspected domestic abuse in antenatal setting
  • Withdrawal of treatment from a patient in intensive care against the wishes of her family
  • An elderly patient, detained under Mental Health Act, wishes to die and refuses treatment
  • Patient (a healthcare worker) at high risk of HIV refuses testing because of concerns re confidentiality
  • Elderly patient withdraws consent for surgery after discussion with her son 2


Case referrals discussed at the SCEC meetings are then written up and summarised

This poster offers the next step in the development of the Student Clinical Ethics Committee at King's

Summary of Work

Cases discussed at meetings will be used as a basis for e-learning modules

Student members of SCEC identified topics frequently discussed at SCEC meetings and created self-contained ‘modules’ which students can work through to promote knowledge and understanding.


Topics include:

  • capacity
  • best interests
  • consent/refusal
  • mental health
  • autonomy
  • beneficence in end of life care.


The e-learning modules utilise film clips, newspaper articles and podcasts, as well as links to the curriculum to create a dynamic multi-media format. Previous clinical cases discussed by the SCEC are used to illustrate relevant ethical and legal issues. 

Figure 2. Example of online module on 'Virtual Campus'

On finishing the e-learning modules, students will be able to print out a certificate of completion in the first step to become an active member of SCEC.

The modules will also be accessible to students of all disciplines in order to provide supplementary ethics resources to the core curriculum. 

Summary of Results


If you wanted to join the Student Clinical Ethics Committee would you find an e-learning resource useful?    - 77 % said yes

Would you use an e-learning resource on the virtual campus to help with ethics assignments?(e.g. ethics exam in year 2/ ethics report in year 3) 82% said yes


Disseminating case summaries via e-learning allows the whole medical school to benefit from SCEC


Modules fulfil a two-fold purpose;

i.)             Enabling students who want to become a member of SCEC to demonstrate core competencies and ensuring they are confident in recognising complex ethical and legal issues. 

ii.)           Supplementing the ethics and law curriculum for the medical school through clinically relevant case scenarios and a dynamic multimedia format

Feedback from the short survey showed that the majority of students felt positive about the introduction of the e-learning modules, and felt that they would be a useful part of SCEC.


Take-home Messages
  • Students can have an important role in the development of learning materials
  • A multimedia e-learning platform provides ease of access and engages with learners
  • Integrating real life clinical scenarios into student teaching proves to be an invaluable resource for professional development

We would like to thank Kings College London School of Medicine and Dr Carolyn Johnston LLB, LLM, MA, PhD for their support and guidance.


1. Johnston C, Williams C, Dias C, Lapraik A, Marvdashti L and Norcross C, (2012) ‘Setting up a student clinical ethics committee’ Clin Ethics  7: 51–53.

2.  http://www.kcl.ac.uk/medicine/research/divisions/meded/innovation/SCEC.aspx



Cases referred by clinical year students are discussed at monthly meeting

Cases are fully anonymised, with permission from the overseeing clinician are discussed at monthly meetings

Meetings are interdisciplinary and are attended by medical, nursing and midwifery students

Summary of Work


The modules will be available under an ethics tab on the virtual campus, which is an online environment containing curriculum resources and tools to support student education regardless of location. 

Summary of Results
Take-home Messages
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