You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work; especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken. (Plato, Republic)
There is a great deal of emphasis on moral and ethical education built into the Bachelor’s Nursing Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Nursing students learn the importance of being culturally competent healers, by which each patient’s views and beliefs are to be considered individually. This type of learning supports a team approach that mutually benefits patient and provider goals as they work together to explore and create a customized care plan. In this manner, the patient is viewed and treated as a whole person, opposed to isolating them by a diagnosis. Overall, the culturally competent care plan improves the standard of care in medicine by challenging any learned behaviors of the provider, whose focus largely shifts to incorporate towards ethically sound care through awareness and understanding of others. It is critical that a nurse engage in a substantial amount of self reflection to face the idea of many possible ethical dilemmas and to learn which moral values motivate their beliefs and actions. Once having defined their own personal lens, the nurse can care for a patient based on their personal needs, without presenting as paternalistic or judgmental, and instead encouraging patient autonomy.
I’m grateful to have begun to learn what it means to be a well-rounded, culturally competent nurse; yet I wonder…I wonder why I have been privileged to receive this curriculum, and why so many others have not. I wonder why, after receiving one bachelor’s degree, and pursuing a second, that I have spent so little time processing such an important subject matter – isn’t this philosophy of education something that can be taught at any age, and one that would benefit the whole world? One thing I know for sure is that I have received this opportunity because I chose to participate – I willingly throw my hand into the team huddle to “break it down!” In my continuing education, I guess I also happened to choose the ideal profession for coming into contact with the curriculum. Yet, I wonder again, what good is this valuable information to a select few? How will the world become a better place if we are not all challenging our own values and beliefs, and being open and accepting to those of others? As a voice of the future, I challenge our society to make a commitment to involve more people about moral and ethical philosophy by making the information more accessible – not just in education for standards of care in a healthcare setting, but into our very standards of living.
– Angela J. Newton, Voice of the Future, 2013-2014
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.