Moral Distress in a Crisis: What, Why and How to Cope

Episode 3

Host: Jamie Davis, BA, RN, NRP (ret.)
Featured Guest: Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN

Jun 17, 2020

Topic(s): Moral Distress, Ethics, COVID-19

Area(s) of Practice: Critical Care, Progressive Care, ED

Role(s): Manager, Educator, Staff

Length: 39 minutes

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In This Episode

Nurses face complex ethical decisions on a daily basis, making us susceptible to moral distress. The risks and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified this distress. In this episode, nursing ethics leader Cynda Rushton talks about moral distress: what it is, why it occurs, and how it affects us physically and psychologically. She also explores shifts in thinking that can help alleviate distress, and offers her insights for building moral resilience during difficult times.

“It helps to acknowledge when I have taken action, I have evaluated the various options and have done that from a place of integrity. I have fulfilled my obligations. Even though the outcome may not be the one that I would choose or hope for, it doesn't erase the very real contribution that has been made.”

— Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN


02:14 —
Ethical dilemmas sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic
06:28 —
Recognizing moral distress and why building moral resilience matters
12:41 —
Strategies for mitigating moral distress and connecting to our sense of purpose
20:20 —
Tips for dealing with the day-to-day of nursing during COVID-19
25:52 —
Organizations’ role in moral distress and how they can support resilience
31:10 —
Carrying today’s lessons forward for the next wave of COVID

Host and Featured Guest

Jamie Davis, BA, RN, NRP (ret.)

Host Jamie Davis is a nurse, healthcare journalist and novelist. He began his healthcare career in emergency medicine, ultimately advancing to chief of EMS. Jamie continued his love of patient care by transitioning to nursing. Since 2005, he’s worked as a journalist covering nursing and emergency care topics, and also serves as adjunct faculty for nursing at Cecil College in Maryland.

Cynda Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN

Featured guest Cynda Rushton is a professor of clinical ethics at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, as well as co-chair of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Ethics Committee and Consultation Service. She is an internationally recognized leader in nursing ethics, moral resilience and workforce issues and a long-time contributor to ground-breaking work on these topics.

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