Ethical Issues Relevant to the DNP

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 3
Words: 555
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College


Nurses are often required to make ethical decisions in their practice, as they work with the delicate sphere of patient wellbeing. However, most experiences with ethics that nurses encounter are connected to their immediate practice setting and individual patients. Once nurses enter the field of research, the ethical challenges change. Nurses with a doctoral degree (DNP or PhD) have to think about population health and ethics related to the various parts of research projects.

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Ethical Issues

Many of the ethical issues relevant to a doctorally-prepared nurse are linked to research integrity and patient confidence. For example, the historical cases described by Houser (2018) reveal the lack of ethical considerations in treating study participants. While nurses are unlikely to engage in such drastic experiments, they may unconsciously harm one or more patients by not examining the intervention in their study properly. In this case, they would be breaching the “do no harm” principle central to nursing and healthcare in general (Campbell-Crofts et al., 2013). To lower the risk of such incidents, review boards examine each proposed research study and point out the weaknesses and possible dangers.

Moreover, as research in nursing often deals with human participants, their informed consent is vital. Here, a nurse may not disclose all risks or consequences of an intervention or fail to describe the procedures well enough for the people to understand. Similarly, this ethical issue can lead to harm and patients’ withdrawal from research before it is completed (Fouka & Mantzorou, 2011). Nurses should always make sure that the study’s subjects are fully aware of and agree with the research project’s goals and outcomes.

Finally, DNPs often assume leadership positions in practice, and this new role grants both power and increased responsibility. In this case, some financial or insurance-related ethical issues and problems of care availability arise, where nurses’ ability to provide care is not at the center of the problem (Milton, 2010; Scott & Bove, 2021). More than that, nursing leaders can be responsible for other nurses and specialists. As a result, DNP nurses have to be vigilant and have a firm ethical stance that prioritizes the basic principles of beneficence and non-malfeasance.

Comparison to the Encountered Issues

Although many nurses with doctoral degrees still experience the issues that other nurses do, they also have to take responsibility for other dangers and activities. In my experience, I dealt with patients who did not want to receive health care or whose families wanted to act differently from the patient. I also encountered disagreements based on religion which challenged my goals as a nurse to provide the best possible care. However, the main difference between these instances seems to be the scope. Nurses dealing with issues in their daily practice usually recall cases concerning one patient or one family. In contrast, nursing researchers may be responsible for the health of dozens and hundreds of people simultaneously, as project samples can be considerably large.


Overall, when acquiring a doctoral degree, nurses should be prepared to deal with new ethical issues. These problems can be bigger in scope and have long-lasting consequences for people’s health and the nurse’s career. In comparison to my current experiences, I expect to think more about research-related ethical issues as well as my responsibilities as a leader and an advocate for the voices of other people.


Campbell-Crofts, S., Field, J., & Fetherstonhaugh, D. (2013). Ethical considerations for nurses undertaking research with a potentially vulnerable population with chronic kidney disease. Renal Society of Australasia Journal, 9(2), 74-79.

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Fouka, G., & Mantzorou, M. (2011). What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), 3-14.

Houser, J. (2018). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett.

Milton, C. (2010). Nursing ethics and power in position. Nursing Science Quarterly, 23(1), 18-21.

Scott, M., & Bove, L. A. (2021). Nursing leadership role development: Preparing to lead through ethical conundrums. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 52(1), 8-10.