UTA Magazine
Crash Course
NURS 3363: Ethical Issues in Contemporary Health Care

Instructor: Joy Don Baker, assistant clinical professor of nursing.

Catalog description: Examines philosophic foundations of ethical decision making in contemporary health care. Methods of moral reasoning based upon traditional ethical frameworks will be applied to selected ethical issues.

About the professor: A member of the School of Nursing faculty since 2000, Dr. Baker is a registered nurse, holding certifications in perioperative nursing, advanced administration and nursing informatics. She has more than 30 years experience in the health care industry and directed the School of Nursing’s distance education program from 2000-04. She earned master’s degrees in nursing, business and organizational development and holds a Ph.D. in human and organizational systems from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her research interests include nursing administration and leadership, perioperative nursing, meaning-making in life transitions and distance education as social change.

Required reading: Nursing Ethics: Through the Life Span by E. Bandman and B. Bandman, ANA Code of Ethics with Interpretive Statements and selected journal articles.

Course format: This is an online course that features a limited number of face-to-face sessions on campus. Students are divided into small groups to engage in dialogue using a WebCT platform for threaded discussions, debate and explorations of case studies. This format provides a means for posting assignments and gaining feedback from faculty. Students receive grades based on written assignments, quizzes and their participation in the various activities.

What the prof says: An online debate presents an exciting and challenging opportunity, enabling the students to explore, in depth, opposing views of “right” answers. We use the Terri Schiavo case as either a case study for discussion or as the debate topic, with the students divided into three groups: pro, con and judges. Rules are established, and the student judges determine a winner of the debate. The students are asked to seek out literature to support their opinions. Substantive critical thought with evidence-based comments outweighs impassioned pleas. The value of using an ethical framework relative to ethical decision making is a key concept of the curriculum. After completing the course, students should have a basic understanding of the primary principles involved in ethical decision making. 

Pop quiz
Provide the appropriate label for the following definitions.

a. Rules of social conduct devised by people to protect society.

b. Do no harm.

c. A system of values, behaviors and beliefs that ensures 
   the protection of individual rights but has no method.



a. laws
b. nonmaleficence
c. ethics

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