Ethical Awareness: What It Is and Why It Matters

Aimee Milliken, PhD, RN


Online J Issues Nurs. 2018;23(1) 

In This Article


Developing and fostering ethical awareness fundamentally requires recognition that ethics is in everything that we, as nurses, do (Austin, 2007; Milliken & Grace, 2015; Truog et al., 2015; Ulrich et al., 2010). While dilemmas and challenging situations create the most obvious, dramatic risks to patients, routine actions have implications for patients as well. Consistent recognition of the ethical implications of nursing actions will, ideally result in care that more consistently supports patient goals and preferences, and is also aligned with the ethical obligations of the nursing profession (Milliken & Grace, 2015). Developing ethical awareness is one way to empower nurses to act as moral agents to provide patients with safe and ethical care.