Course Overview


This Video Learning Activity explores the practical application of ethical principles to the everyday clinical environment by showing how nursing occupies a very distinctive ethical position, not just within the contemporary healthcare system, but within the broader culture of our society as a whole.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the purpose of practical ethics and the ethical role of the nurse
  • Identify the problems of ethical theory
  • Explain the importance of a person’s narrative to ethical debate

Topics include:

  • The problems of abstracted ethical theory
  • How nurses make practical use of ethics in healthcare
  • Narrative, and its importance in obtaining outcomes that are meaningful
  • Can nurses be replaced?

Target audience

Nurses and midwives in all areas of professional practice, as both the nursing and midwifery professions are committed to ethical decision-making in their practice.


Review exactly how nursing has placed narrative at the centre of bioethical debate and in doing so has established an unparalleled framework of practical ethics that seeks to obtain outcomes that are genuinely meaningful to individuals in their care. Further, by examining how the profession achieves this, it will be shown how nursing occupies a very distinctive ethical position, not just within the contemporary healthcare system, but within the broader culture of our society as a whole.


Over the past three decades, nursing has shifted its attitude regarding the purpose of ethics, and embraces the complexities of the individual through the development of a nationally endorsed Code of Ethics for Nurses. In doing so, nursing has established itself as unique in bridging the gap between theory and narrative. By applying ethical principles in a genuinely practical manner in everyday practice, nurses are now consistently obtaining outcomes that are meaningful in relation to the values and beliefs of those in their care. Understanding how this came about, and why it happens, is fundamental to understanding the role of nursing in contemporary society.

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.