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Cynda H. Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN

Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics
Cynda Rushton
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Cynda Hylton Rushton is the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the School of Nursing, with a joint appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. A founding member of the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Dr. Rushton co-chairs the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Ethics Committee and Consultation Service. An international leader in nursing ethics, Dr. Rushton in 2014 co-led the first National Nursing Ethics Summit, convened by the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and School of Nursing. The Summit, supported by strategic partners from nine national nursing organizations and seven collaborating organizations, developed a Blueprint for 21st Century Nursing Ethics. Her current scholarship in clinical ethics focuses on moral distress and suffering of clinicians, the development of moral resilience, palliative care, and designing a culture of ethical practice. Dr. Rushton is the recipient of three post-doctoral fellowships: a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellowship (2006-2009), a Kornfeld Fellowship in end-of-life, ethics, and palliative care (2000), and a Mind and Life Institute Fellowship in Contemplative Science (2013-2014). She has served on the Institute of Medicine's Committee on increasing rates of organ donation and was a consultant to its project When Children Die. She also was appointed the first chair of the Maryland State Council on Quality Care at the End-of-Life, has been recognized as one of Maryland's Top 100 Women, and is an American Academy of Nursing "Edge Runner." She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a Hasting’s Center Fellow.

Dr. Rushton is currently designing, implementing, and evaluating the Mindful Ethical Practice and Resilience Academy (MEPRA) to build moral resilience in novice nurses. Her forthcoming book, Moral Resilience: Transforming Moral Suffering in Health Care, to be published by Oxford University Press, aims to transform current approaches for addressing moral distress by focusing on innovative methods to cultivate moral resilience and designing a culture in health care that supports ethical practice.

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Bioethics; moral distress; moral resilience; palliative care; ethical issues in clinical practice, particularly end-of-life decision making and pediatrics, ethics education and consultation, and cultivating a culture of ethical practice
  • Videos






  • Publications

    Rushton, C.H., Batcheller, J. Schroeder, K., & Donohue, P. (in press). “Burnout and resilience among nurses practicing in high intensity settings.” American Journal of Critical Care.

    Haywood, C., Williams-Reade, J., Rushton, C. H., Beach, M. C., & Geller, G. (in press). “Improving clinician attitudes of respect and trust for persons with Sickle Cell Disease.” Hospital Pediatrics.

    Bosslet, G. T., Pope, T. M., Rubenfeld, G., Lo , B., Truog, R., Rushton, C., White, D. B. (in press). “An official ATS/AACN/ACCP/ESICM/SCCM policy statement: Responding to requests for potentially inappropriate treatments in intensive care units.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

    Henry, L. M., Rushton, C., Beach, M. C., & Faden, R. (2015). “Respect and dignity: A conceptual model for patients in the Intensive Care Unit.” Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, 5(1A), 5-14.

    Geller, G., Branyon, E., Forbes, L., Rushton, C., Beach, M. C., Carrese, J., Sugarman, J. (2015). “Health care professionals’ perceptions and experiences of respect and dignity in the intensive care unit.” Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, 5(1A), 27-42.

  • Research
    • Bioethics
    • Moral distress/resilience
    • Palliative care
    • Ethical issues in clinical practice
  • Awards and Honors

    2014 Fellow, The Hastings Center, Garrison, NY

    2014 Top 100 Women in Maryland, The Daily Record, Baltimore, MD

    2014 Center for Health Care Ethics Milestone Aware for Bioethics Leadership, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

    2013 Mind and Life Institute Contemplative Studies Fellow

    2010 Top 50 Alumni, University of Kentucky, College of Nursing, 50th Anniversary, Lexington, KY

    2006-2009 Fellow, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Leadership Fellowship, Princeton, NJ

    2008 Top 100 Women in Maryland, The Daily Record, Baltimore, MD

    2007 University of Kentucky, College of Nursing, Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee, Lexington, KY

    2007 Johns Hopkins University, School of Nursing, Alumni Association, Excellence in Teaching Award: Graduate Program, Baltimore, MD

    2006 Health Care Heroes Award, Nursing, The Daily Record, Baltimore, MD

    2001 Pioneering Spirit Award, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Anaheim, CA

    1991 Greater Washington Area Chapter–American Association of Critical Care Nurses/Hewlett Packard Research Award

    1990 Fellow, American Academy of Nursing

    1990 Maternal-Child Nurse of the Year, American Nurses Association, Council on Maternal-Child Nursing, Boston, MA

    1990 National Nurse of the Year, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Boston, MA

    1990 Outstanding Nursing Alumnus, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC

    1989-1990 Mary Dance Spence Scholarship, School of Nursing, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

    1988 Outstanding Young Woman in America, State Award Recipient for Maryland, Outstanding Americans Program, Montgomery, AL

    1986 Employee of the Month, Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children Atlanta, GA

    1986-1997 Who's Who in American Nursing, The Society of Nursing Professionals

    1983 Sigma Theta Tau, National Nursing Honor Society

    1981-1982 Professional Nurse Traineeship Award, U.S. Public Health Service