All healthcare professionals should be educated in demonstrating moral courage in the face of ethical challenges. Although much has been written on nursing intuitiveness, knowing how to demonstrate moral courage and create an organizational culture that fosters empowerment may not be so intuitive. For this reason, educational strategies should be used both in nursing care settings and academia.
Nurses must learn the language of ethics, moral reasoning, and moral courage—and how to approach the moral dilemmas they may encounter. Role-playing is one strategy for learning new behaviors in difficult situations. This technique places nurses in dialogue pairs where they play out a scenario they’re given—for instance, a difficult but necessary conversation about maintaining standards rather than cutting corners, or how to approach senior personnel or physicians when concerned about a patient’s plan of care. This can make nurses better equipped to demonstrate moral courage when difficult situations arise. In both the workplace and academia, strategies exist to help nurses gain knowledge about ethics—for instance, discussion of a case and application of Code of Ethics provisions to the case; also, use of simulation with a standardized patient experiencing a violation of privacy or autonomy.
Nursing educational curricula include ethics in both baccalaureate and graduate programs. Many schools have in-depth courses that give students time to learn the language of ethics and ethical reasoning, which helps in day-to-day practice. Nurses who think they lack the tools to handle difficult situations in daily practice can tap into webinars, nursing literature, and other continuing-education offerings. Also, most hospitals have ethics committees that offer consultation and can be called on to provide education. Workshops can be given on specific ethical subjects or case presentations. Nurse managers should play a role in requesting or promoting ethics educational opportunities in the workplace.