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Ethical Decision-making in Healthcare: An Inter-professional Approach Course Description

Health care ethics is a shared, relevant concern among health and human service disciplines and is an ideal vehicle for students from different fields to learn about one another’s disciplines and to participate in cross disciplinary team analysis, discussion, and problem-solving. We have designed an integrated cross-disciplinary learning experience for students interested in the complex, real-world dilemmas encountered in practice. The readings and activities will emphasize ethical, legal, moral and spiritual issues and principles for practice within the context of communicating in interdisciplinary teams. The course will meet the following goals and objectives.


  • Develop understanding of the competencies required to work in cross-disciplinary teams.
  • Understand and appreciate own and others’ professional ethical principles and practices.


  • Understand and effectively use team skills in cross-disciplinary ethical decision-making.
  • Demonstrate respect for the positions and opinions of other health and human service professionals.
  • Analyze and propose resolutions for case material and ethical dilemmas from a cross - disciplinary team perspective.
  • Develop understanding of common ethical principles in health and human services practice.
  • Clarify personal and professional values related to cross-disciplinary ethical dilemmas.
  • Identify the moral, ethical and legal dilemmas within health and human services practice in varied settings.
  • Examine potential conflict between moral, spiritual, ethical and legal decision making principles.
  • Identify resources and strategies to support ethical and legal decision-making in practice settings.

Key concepts/Processes to incorporate

  • Inter-professional and cross disciplinary team processes
  • Principles for ethical decision-making in healthcare
  • Process for ethical decision-making in healthcare
  • Personal and professional values clarification
  • Ethical and legal considerations of health and human service issues

Students will have opportunities to identify and problem-solve ethical issues resulting from discipline’s assumptions of accountability and responsibility (or lack of) to clients.

Students participating: 132 students in nursing, psychology, health sciences, nutrition and dietetics, social work, and health services administration.

Future Plans:

We are exploring the possibility of adding a session on “Cross-cultural Issues in ethical decision-making”. We are also exploring ways to involve community members who are interested in continuing education.

For more information please contact Emily Akerson, Course Coordinator at akersoek@jmu.edu or (540)568-6120.