Why a nursing ethics blog?
This seems like an obvious question for the topic of a first blog entry. Why write a nursing ethics blog? Between Chris MacDonald and myself, we already have four blogs on ethics that keep us busy in addition to our academic and professional work. Why take on something more?
Well, simply put, there are two reasons for deciding to write a nursing ethics blog. First, there is a need. Nurses, in my experience, at all stages of professional life, have both a strong need and a yearning to have a place to read and talk about ethical challenges and issues that arise in practice. The classes I teach on ethics are always the ones in which there is the most active and engaged discussion, the most sharing of individual stories and the times when I receive the most after-class emails following up on topics, issues and cases. While presenting Dax Cowart as a case study might seem like old news to some bioethics colleagues, this case, as one example, is something that, year after year, my nursing students find compelling, troubling and worthy of reflection and intense discussion.
Second, there are nursing blogs out there, for sure. There are also plenty of nursing websites that contribute to nursing knowledge and have sections on ethics. There is also high quality, innovative work being done at the boundaries between social media and nursing, like Rob Fraser’s website, Nursing Ideas. But there isn’t anything that I can find that merges consistent and informed commentary on issues in health care, bioethics and nursing ethics in the way I have tried to do on the Research Ethics Blog (which was built on the advisory expertise of Chris MacDonald’s Business Ethics Blog, Biotech Ethics Blog and Food Ethics Blog).
On this blog, we’re aiming to try to discuss issues that are relevant and meaningful to nurses in modern practice today — nurses at the bedside, in administrative positions, in academia, in settings from intensive care units in busy downtown hospitals to rural and remote positions. We hope it will be a place where broader issues in health care and bioethics can be explored. We’re also hoping to write about enduring issues in nursing ethics like moral distress, moral integrity, empowerment, and professional stress, but write about these issues in an accessible, straightforward yet innovative and modern way.
This doesn’t mean we’re only going to write about issues “at the bedside”. Clearly, there is a strong element of interdisciplinarity and interprofessional work in nursing. So to ignore stories and issues in medical ethics or more generally, health care ethics, would not be a wise or prudent decision. Here are some examples: ethical issues that are prevalent in areas like end-of-life care, beginning of life care, resource allocation, and decision-making will be addressed here as will concepts such as morally problematic practices, consent, autonomy and the value of professional advice.
Above all, we’re simply hoping to engage scholars, students, and nurses at a variety of stages in their professional lives tackling difficult and complex issues in ethics. We hope you’ll check in and see what we’re doing!