Fostering nursing students' use of ethical theory and decision-making models: teaching strategies

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Abstract

Nurses, including students, continue to report moral distress when facing ethical dilemmas in the clinical setting. Some nurses have even expressed wanting to leave the profession because of their frustration, fatigue and lack of power in this area. One of the possible reasons for this may lie in the type of educational preparation they have received to confidently analyse and successfully resolve ethical dilemmas. This manuscript describes the ethics content of an integrated ethics, legal and health policy course in the nursing curriculum of a large urban university. Teaching strategies such as discussion questions, case studies, ethical decision-making models and debate will be illustrated. Data from student course evaluations are provided. The influence of external agencies such as the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing on the development of ethical content in nursing curriculums is discussed. Future research directions are suggested.

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