Course Overview


This Video Learning Activity will review the evolution of modern nursing ethics through discussing how nurses approach ethically-challenging decisions in their clinical practice. The emergence of moral principles and professional codes will be explored in order to understand the relationship of ethics and law to the everyday clinical environment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the origins of contemporary nursing ethics
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of single principle and multiple principle ethical theories
  • Explain the origin and purpose of professional codes of ethics
  • Describe the relationship between ethics and the law

Topics include:

  • The evolution of modern nursing ethics
  • Consequence and duty: their relationship to modern nursing practice
  • The emergence of moral principles
  • Professional codes
  • The relationship between ethics and law
  • An introduction to practical ethics

Target audience

All nurses and midwives in all areas of nursing and midwifery practice.


To provide an overview of the language and theory of nursing ethics as it is used in contemporary debate.


Ethics has a very distinct language of its own, and nursing has embraced and adapted this as part of its own unique discourse. However, ethical theory can be both complex and abstract, and in order for discourse to occur, it is essential that nurses understand the core elements of ethical language as it is applied to everyday practice.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.


Darren Wake

Peripatetic and always intellectually restless, Darren Wake has pursued varied careers in journalism, media production, academic philosophy and nursing. As a nurse, he worked in the speciality areas of critical care, community care, remote area healthcare and education. As a formally qualified academic philosopher Darren taught undergraduate units in law and ethics in healthcare, although his principle research focus revolved around logic and the philosophy of language. Darren’s media production output can be found scattered about the Ausmed website and in his long forgotten days as a word monkey, he wrote for European publications such as The Scotsman, The Great Outdoors, Country Walking and The Times. In 2014 Darren consulted to the Department of Health for the development of Consumer Directed Care policy and guidelines for remote area communities in the Northern Territory. These days he is the managing editor of a small independent publishing company based in the United Kingdom, and lives in Tasmania. In his spare time, Darren is currently studying a formal course in celestial navigation, just in case the inevitable zombie apocalypse messes with the world’s GPS satellite system.