American Association of Critical-Care Nurses selects Rushton as 2023 Distinguished Research Lecturer

Oct 27, 2022

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Distinguished Research Lectureship, recognizing nurses who make significant contributions to acute and critical care research, honors Johns Hopkins University’s Cynda Hylton Rushton for bioethics and nursing research

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – Oct. 27, 2022 – The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recently selected Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, as its 2023 Distinguished Research Lecturer.

Rushton is an international leader in clinical ethics and ethical nursing practice. As an applied researcher, she has focused on diverse dimensions of bioethics, specifically palliative and end-of-life care and the moral suffering of clinicians, moral resilience and designing a culture of ethical practice and well-being.

A founding member of Johns Hopkins University Berman Institute of Bioethics, Rushton is also the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics, one of the few endowed professorships that combine clinical ethics and nursing. In that role, in 2014, she co‐led the first National Nursing Ethics Summit that produced “A Blueprint for 21st Century Nursing Ethics.” She joined Johns Hopkins in 1991, as a faculty associate in its school of nursing and a pediatric clinical practice specialist in the hospital’s Children’s Center. She has co-chaired the ethics committee and consultation service at Johns Hopkins Hospital since 1999, conducting hundreds of ethics consultations involving complex ethical questions.

Through an academic-practice partnership, her team developed, implemented and evaluated the impact of the Mindful Ethical Practice and Resilience Academy (MEPRA) to build moral resilience in direct care nurses. Initial results indicate significant improvements in ethical confidence and competence, resilience, mindfulness and work engagement, as well as decreases in depression, anger and intent to leave a position. Many of these improvements were sustained at three and six months after the program. Building on this work, Rushton is currently chief synergy strategist leading a statewide initiative in Maryland to build greater resilience and ethical practice in nursing faculty, students and novice nurses.

Rushton is editor and author of “Moral Resilience: Transforming Moral Suffering in Healthcare,” the first book to explore moral resilience from a variety of perspectives. The American Journal of Nursing named it one of its Books of the Year in 2020, earning first-place honors in the professional issues category.

Her work led to development of the Rushton Moral Resilience Scale, a 17-item validated tool for assessing interprofessional clinicians’ self-reported level of moral resilience. The scale has been used in several studies during the COVID-19 pandemic to understand its relationship to moral distress and injury, organizational effectiveness, trust and other factors. 

A national leader, she co-led the national “Collaborative State of the Science Initiative: Transforming Moral Distress Into Moral Resilience in Nursing” and co-chaired the American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) professional issues panel that created “A Call to Action: Exploring Moral Resilience Toward a Culture of Ethical Practice.” She is a member of the ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board and serves on the advisory board for the American Nurses Foundation’s Well-Being Initiative.

She was a member of the National Academies of Medicine, Science and Engineering Committee that produced the report “Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being.” She has participated in numerous leadership summits to address the health, well-being and integrity of the healthcare workforce.

In 2019, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing inducted her into its International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame and presented her with the Daniel J. Pesut Spirit of Renewal Award. She is a fellow of The Hastings Center, chair of The Hastings Center Fellows Council and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

A member of AACN since 1979, Rushton received the association’s Marguerite Rodgers Kinney Award for a Distinguished Career in 2022 and its Pioneering Spirit Award in 2001 for her work integrating palliative care into the care of people living with life-limiting conditions. She has been involved in the development of many AACN resources addressing ethical nursing practice, including “4 A’s to Rise Above Moral Distress.” Since 2005, she has served as ethics column editor for AACN Advanced Critical Care.

Rushton earned an undergraduate degree in nursing at the University of Kentucky, followed by a master’s degree in nursing at Medical University of South Carolina, which have both honored her as an outstanding alumna. She completed her doctoral work at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., with a post-doctoral fellowship at the Emily Davie and Joseph Kornfield Foundation in Brooklyn, New York.

As the Distinguished Research Lecturer, Rushton will discuss her career and research journey during AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI), AACN’s annual conference. NTI will be held in person May 22-24 in Philadelphia and virtually June 12-14. The American Journal of Critical Care will publish an abstract of Rushton’s NTI presentation in its May 2023 issue, followed by a complete manuscript in July 2023.

About AACN’s Distinguished Research Lectureship: AACN established the Distinguished Research Lectureship in 1982 to honor nationally known nurses who make significant contributions to progressive and critical care research. The annual award recognizes research that impacts patient outcomes and advances nursing education and practice. Recipients present their award-winning research at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition and receive a $2,500 honorarium.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with approximately 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;