Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

The Ethical Education of an RN

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

The Ethical Education of an RN

Article excerpt

The Ethical Education of the RN

In a 1977 survey, Mila Aroskar found that 7 percent of accredited bacclaureate programs in nursing required coursework in ethics or medical ethics. But a recent national study of senior RN baccalureate nursing students (registered nurses who had returned to school to complete their baccalaureate) reported by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicates a significant increase in the past decade in the prevalence of ethics content in nursing. Almost all RN students reported taking coursework in ethics, and indicated substantial development in their ability to address ethical dilemmas at the completion of their program compared to its beginning. Over 85 percent were applying ethics content in their clinical practice when resurveyed six months after graduation.

The students felt that their skills in recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas were greatly enhanced by group discussions with colleagues and peers, the ethics content in their nursing coursework, as well as courses in humanities, philosophy, logic, and ethics. Some students rated in-service programs in clinical agencies instrumental in contributing to their abilities, but few perceived ethics rounds to be a significant factor. Still, despite both formal and informal modes of learning, most students felt minimally prepared to use an ethical framework or model to assist in assessing and resolving ethical dilemmas.

In their practice, the most common issues confronted by the nurses were, in order of frequency, informed consent, resuscitation or discontinuation of life-saving treatment, the care of patients with a poor prognosis, evaluation of patient competency, patient refusals of treatment, and withholding information from patients. …

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