Nurse Educator Education Project experiences

Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work – Utilising Case-studies in Ethics Education

Authors: Ľuboslava Pavelová, Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra & Imane Elonen, University of Turku

“My first “gentle” touch with the subject of ethics was at the beginning of my Nursing studies in 1988 (I have a nostalgic smile on my face right now). Initially it was an uninteresting subject for me, based on theory and philosophy only and I couldn’t really understand.”

Ethics education, as all education, has traditionally been lecture based in all health sciences and in nursing. Furthermore, it was more focused on theoretical knowledge on philosophical base of ethics and learning the codes, rather than engaging in ethical problem solving or providing tools to do that. (Woods, 2005.)

“ Subsequently, as a nurse in clinical practice, I knew about the code of ethics, I respected the four main principles in the provision of nursing care and somehow intuitively solved ethical issues, dilemmas.”

Education in health sciences and ethics, has come a long way since and there is great amount of information on evidence based teaching in ethics. Problem based learning (PBL), Case based learning (CBL), simulations, games and others (Opsahl et al., 2020; Herron et al., 2019; Namadi et al., 2019; Srinivasan et al., 2007).

The study unit Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work, which was the final of the five study units forming the Empowering Nurse Educators in the Changing World (ENEC) study programme organized by the Erasmus+ funded project “New Nurse Educator”, utilised case-studies as the method of teaching. Knowing the effectiveness of CBL (Herron et al., 2019; Namadi et al., 2019), the organizers wanted to ensure the participants don’t only learn ethics of nurse educators but may also rediscover the effectiveness and acceptability of CBL in ethics education.

CBL has its benefits in teaching ethics, especially in time constricted, fairly intensive study units, as the study units within the ENEC study programme (Herron et al., 2019; Namadi et al., 2019 Srinivasan et al., 2007). Compared to similarly effective method, PBL, CBL provides clearer structure and more streamlined approach, enabling students to reach conclusion with less time and effort, yet demanding them to develop their problem solving skills and engage in collaborative inquiry to reach their goal (Srinivasan et al., 2007). CBL has been proven an effective and preferable method in ethics education, and it equips the students with necessary problem solving skills (Namadi et al., 2019).

“Later, as a teacher, I introduced the students – future nurses to the moral, ethical requirements, rules, principles to be followed in the performance of daily nursing activities. Being “here” today in 2022 (I have a satisfactory smile on my face) I am at the end of graduating from the educational module “ethics and nurse educators work” within the Empowering the nurse educators in the changing world (ENEC) – study program. My role as a teacher enriched by the fact that the current, dynamically evolving time demands in the educational process to not only use the classical teaching methods, but also less traditional ones. Those that can inspire and make students to work independently, in finding appropriate solutions to ethical issues and dilemmas in diligence. “

In addition to traditional word based case scenarios, there are promising results, in utilising case videos, they may further enhance both learning and acceptability in students (Herron et al, 2019). The study unit “Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work” was completed by majority of the registered students. The case studies were engaging and students represented their cases during the final webinar of the whole one-year ENEC programme, prompting fascinating and inspiring international discussions, which hopefully will inspire the educators and educator candidates further in their educator careers.

“I want to set my work to a new direction. I am empowered to promote a culture of ethical behaviour for students – future nurses. I am ready to talk to students about ethics and adherence to ethical principles, to encourage them to discuss their concerns about their ethical dilemmas without fear of retaliation. I support open and continuous communication between us and I want to act as a positive role model for them. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Srinivasan, M., Wilkes, M., Stevenson, F., Nguyen, T., & Slavin, S. (2007). Comparing problem-based learning with case-based learning: effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions. Academic Medicine, 82(1), 74-82.

Namadi F, Hemmati-Maslakpak M, Moradi Y, Ghasemzadeh N. The effects of nursing ethics education through case-based learning on moral reasoning among nursing students. Nurs Midwifery Stud 2019;8:85-90

Opsahl, A., Nelson, T., Madeira, J., & Wonder, A. H. (2020). Evidence‐Based, Ethical Decision‐Making: Using Simulation to Teach the Application of Evidence and Ethics in Practice. Worldviews on EvidenceBased Nursing, 17(6), 412-417.

Herron, E. K., Powers, K., Mullen, L., & Burkhart, B. (2019). Effect of case study versus video simulation on nursing students’ satisfaction, self-confidence, and knowledge: A quasi-experimental study. Nurse education today, 79, 129-134.

Woods, M. (2005). Nursing ethics education: are we really delivering the good (s)?. Nursing ethics, 12(1), 5-18.

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