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Insight Into the Challenges and Contributions of Nurse Bioethicists

Nurse bioethicists are a small but special subset of the nursing profession and bioethics community, focusing on the moral complexities that arise in clinical care, research, and health policy.

In an essay about her career trajectory and clinical, educational, and research experiences that shaped her career goals, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Connie M. Ulrich, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Lillian S. Brunner Chair in Medical and Surgical Nursing, helps illustrate the value and necessity of ethic preparedness and the ethical challenges nurses encounter with diverse patient populations. The essay was recently published in the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.

“I wrote this article because dialogue with nursing and bioethics scholars is imperative in training the next generation of nurse bioethicists,” said Ulrich. “We need to better understand and support the academic and philosophical skill sets and mentorship requirements of nurses that will advance and contribute to the broader public good.”

In her essay, Ulrich explains that ethical challenges abound in everyday practice in all settings where nurses work. She also addresses a number of important points regarding nursing’s voice in bioethics and its importance in contributing to contemporary models of care delivery, policy, research, and education.

“The influence of nurse bioethicists can bring greater understanding to the human experience of patients, families, and communities, as well as conceptual and methodological rigor to addressing complex individual, organizational, societal, and global health-related problems,” adds Ulrich.