nursing schoolSleepless nurses don’t count sheep hopping over a fence. They count the flock of possible answers--on either side of that proverbial fence--to the ethical questions they face each day at work. There may be no way around these dilemmas. The best way through them might be to chat about them.

As a precursor to an Invitational Nursing Ethics Summit (August 13-15), Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, conference attendees, sponsors, students, and nurses across the nation will take part in a series of live Twitter chats and blog posts on ethical questions, issues, and responses. The Nursing Ethics Summit is an initiative from the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and School of Nursing.

Using the hashtag #nursingethics, participants will share in an open, honest exchange on “What Keeps Nurses Up at Night?”—the ethical issues that Rushton describes as “part of the fabric of nursing.”

From her May 28 blog entry at the Berman Institute’s website:

"Every day, nurses working in a variety of settings, roles, and geographic locations, are confronted with vexing questions about how to maintain their integrity when the ethical terrain is uncertain or complex. Many struggle to articulate the issues, their obligations, and how to proceed when there are conflicting paths that can be taken.  When such issues are not recognized or resolved, many nurses experience moral distress in response to threats to their integrity. Over time, these unresolved issues can accumulate and undermine nurse’s ability to provide high quality and safe care."

Rushton is the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics. She holds a joint appointment in the School of Nursing and School of Medicine (Department of Pediatrics) and is a founding member and core faculty at the Berman Institute.

The first Nursing Ethics summit chat is tonight (June 3) at 8 p.m., and will raise questions like:

  • Why is the discussion of nursing ethics important and necessary?
  • What can nurses do to deal with these ethical issues now?
  • What should nurses be able to do to deal with these ethical issues?

The chats will resume at the same time on June 17, July 1, July 15 and 29, and August 12. The results will be posted on the Berman Institute blog for those who cannot participate live.

Some guidelines for those who can participate (if you haven’t already, you will need to create a twitter account at

  1. Go to the #nursingethics twitter widget chat page. Or, find the chat by searching for #nursingethics either at or using tweetdeck, etc. Here, you will be able to follow and contribute to the conversation happening live.
  2. Once on the widget chat page, you can contribute your thoughts by including #nursingethics in all of your tweets.
  3. If relevant, also include Q1, Q2, etc., to indicate which of the moderator’s (@bermaninstitute) questions you are referring to in your tweet.

For news, notes, and insights on the School of Nursing, follow us on Twitter: Dean Patricia M. Davidson (@nursingdean); the School of Nursing (@JHUNursing).

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