Report: IME National Student Conference 2024

'Ethics of the Mind'

By lorrainep · March 5, 2024

Organised by the Student Council, the annual IME National Student Conference took place on 10th February 2024. Read Student Council Chair, Julia Manning’s round-up of what took place…

‘This month saw the return of the annual IME National Student Conference, this year with the theme ‘Ethics of the Mind’. It was held at University College London, with many students and doctors in attendance.

The day started with two excellent presentations by Professor David Nutt and Pr ofessor Sir Simon Wessely. David Nutt joined us online to give an engaging speech about drug laws and the ethics of drug law policies. It was a fascinating exploration of the ethical consequences of such drug policies, challenging the audience with fresh perspectives. Simon Wessely then participated in a stage interview with two of the IME Student Council Conference leads. Proposed reforms to the Mental Health Act and the ethics of sectioning people were just two of the topics discussed.

As well as the keynote speakers, attendees were able to join in workshops throughout the day. These were led by medical students from across the UK and covered a range of different topics, including, ‘Is it right to section people?’, ‘AI in Psychiatry’, ‘Sentience, suffering and moral status’, and ‘Eating disorders and palliative care’. These sessions encouraged conversation and debate and allowed for smaller group discussions. Attendees were able to choose the two workshop sessions that enticed them the most!

For the first time at the IME Student Council conference, we had a Q&A session where a panel of doctors and ethicists talked about their careers in medical ethics and then answered questions from the audience. Joe Brierley, John Chisholm, Katie Frankland, Raj Mohindra and Guy Schofield kindly volunteered their time to sit on the panel, and gave valuable insights into how they have integrated medical ethics into their work.

At the conference, students also had the opportunity to present posters and two students were invited to do an oral presentation. The Mark Brennan Poster Prize is also awarded during the conference, and judges had insightful conversations with students who had their posters marked. This year, Jessica Morgan won the elective bursary prize for ‘Comparison of the legal infrastructure governing psychiatric practice and its implementation in Tanzania & the UK’ while Jennah Stuttard and Megan O’Mahony were joint intercalated scholarship winners for ‘Would it be right to apply the principles of harm reduction to female genital cutting?’ and ‘The right to life & death: An evaluation of the maternal-foetal conflict in light of ectogenesis’, respectively. The Student Council judges the other posters, and Harman Jabbal won for her poster on ‘Is it right to section people?’. For the oral presentations, Antoni Krupa delivered a speech titled ‘Pregnancy, Parenthood and Privacy – Will ectogenesis end the abortion debate?’ and Matthew Randell gave a speech on ‘Screening decisions, transformative experiences, and the consequences for informed consent’. Both speeches were well-researched and expertly presented! Antoni Krupa won the oral presentation prize. Well done to both participants!

The IME Student Council Conference also hosts the IME National Student Debate Final, and this year the University of Sheffield and the University of Edinburgh were the finalists. The motion was ‘People under the age of 16 lack the capacity to consent to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones’ and both teams offered powerful and persuasive arguments and thoughtful answers to some probing questions. The winning team was decided by audience vote, with Edinburgh carrying the day. Many congratulations to both teams!

I would like to say a big thank you to the IME and especially CEO Phil Greenwood for their continued help and support with the IME Student Council. Thank you to our speakers, volunteers, facilitators and students for giving up their time to help make the event so successful. We hope to see you all again at our next conference, and in the meantime please follow our social medias so you can keep up to date with all that we do throughout the year!’

Julia Manning, Chair, IME Student Council
5th year medical student
Lancaster University

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 IME National Student Debate Final: Runners up Sheffield (front) and winners Edinburgh (back)