Ethical Dilemmas as a SET

I love dialogue in a classroom. I love to hear the exchange of opposing ideas and views and to watch how impassioned some students can become. I am always looking for ways to encourage and promote a healthy, respectful, researched and lively conversation that allows students to see the shades of gray that surround us in nursing.

One of the SET that Berkley (2010) suggests using is an ethical dilemma which is a common theme in nursing.She presents this in a way that the instructor presents the topic and they then pick the side they feel most strongly about. As someone who has attended bio-ethic lectures this is not the format that is used nor is it the format I use in my classroom. I provide the students with a list of topics to choose from and from there they are to research BOTH sides of the topic and present each side neutrally. They then facilitate a discussion in class still not stating which side they are on. At the end of the discussion the student has the option to share their side with the class.

Ethical dilemmas I have found is a great way to start nursing students on the path to understanding the there are many different views and that as a nurse, it’s up to you to present just the facts – both good and bad – to your patients. It also teaches them to start understanding how their beliefs/views may impact their nursing practice and to become familiar with mandates in place that govern how we present these views. The College of Registered Nurses of BC (CRNBC) has a Professional Standard(2013) that states the nurse, “Identifies the effect of own values, beliefs and experiences in carrying out clinical activities; recognizes potential conflicts and takes action to prevent or resolve.”

Ethical dilemmas help to students to be actively engaged in their learning as here they allow the student to “…make information or a concept their own by connecting it to their existing knowledge and experience…” (Berkley, 2010). Also, it can allow the student to challenge their already existing knowledge which shows reflective practice.

Finding ways to keep students engaged is a full time job but when you find that way it’s gratifying as an educator to see active learning in action.

Berkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques. A Handbook for College Faculty. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.

College of Registered Nurses of  British Columbia.   Retrieved October 31, 2015

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