In the wake of media focus on the trials and bravery of nurses in the context of the Ebola crisis, leaders in the fields of nursing and clinical ethics released a report on the ethical issues facing the profession, according to a news release by Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore. The report captures the discussion at the first National Nursing Ethics Summit held at Johns Hopkins University in August, according to the release.
At the summit, 50 leaders in nursing and ethics gathered to discuss a broad range of timely issues and develop guidance. The report, A Blueprint for 21st Century Nursing Ethics, covers issues including weighing personal risk with professional responsibilities and moral courage to expose deficiencies in care, among other topics.
This blueprint was in development before the Ebola epidemic really hit the media and certainly before the first U.S. infections, which have since reinforced the critical need for our nations healthcare culture to more strongly support ethical principles that enable effective ethical nursing practice, Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and Berman Institute of Bioethics, and lead organizer of the summit, said in the release.
The report makes both overarching and specific recommendations in four key areas clinical practice, education, nursing research and policy. Among the specific recommendations are:
Clinical practice: Create tools and guidelines for achieving ethical work environments, evaluate their use in practice and make the results easily accessible
Education: Develop recommendations for preparing faculty to teach ethics effectively
Nursing research: Develop metrics that enable ethics research projects to identify common outcomes, including improvements in the quality of care, clinical outcomes, costs, and impacts on staff and the work environment
Policy: Develop measurement criteria and an evaluation component that could be used to assess workplace culture and moral distress.
What does this blueprint mean for nurses on the front line?
Its our hope this will serve as a blueprint for cultural change that will more fully support nurses in their daily practice and ultimately improve how healthcare is administered for patients, their families and nurses, Rushton said in the release. We want to start a movement within nursing and our healthcare system to address the ethical challenges embedded in all settings where nurses work.
For the full report, visit www.bioethicsinstitute.org/nursing-ethics-summit-report.
To see the executive summary, visit www.bioethicsinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Executive_summary.pdf.