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About the Center

In September 1990, the Center for Ethics and Human Rights was established with the following guiding objectives:

  • Promulgate in collaboration with ANA constituents, a body of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, designed to address issues in ethics and human rights at the state, national and international level;
  • Develop and disseminate information about and advocate for public policy to assure that ethics and human rights are addressed in health care; and
  • Assure that short and long-range objectives regarding ethics and human rights will be addressed within the Association, and expressed to appropriate bodies external to the Association.

The Center continues to advance these originating goals and has become respected as an authority within the nursing community. The Center remains responsive to the changing realities within health care and the nursing profession and is committed to addressing professional, ethical and human rights challenges and ultimately to improving the quality of care rendered to patients and their families. Please direct questions and/or comments about The Center for Ethics and Human Rights to:

The American Nurses Association Center for Ethics & Human Rights

8515 Georgia Avenue
Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910 
(301) 628-5000 
E-mail: ethics@ana.org

The Center's Staff

Liz Stokes

JD, MA, RN

Director

Liz Stokes is the Director of the American Nurses Association Center for Ethics and Human Rights and demonstrates expertise in writing public policy on ethical issues including medical marijuana, assisted death, intellectual disabilities, and women's reproductive health.

She completed her Bachelors of Science in Nursing at the University of Virginia and worked several years as a critical care nurse focusing on end-of-life care issues. Liz received her Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond and worked as a Discipline Consultant for the District of Columbia Board of Nursing interpreting and conferring professional ethical provisions in nursing. Her expertise and leadership is also demonstrated through various charitable roles in the health and legal communities.

She is a member of the Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity and currently serves on the board of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Nurse Affinity Group. Her areas of expertise include bioethics, nursing ethics and substance use disorder in nursing. She is an international speaker on the Code of Ethics for Nurses is published in the Journal of Nursing Regulation and the Journal for Nurse Practitioners. Liz also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.

She is an active volunteer with the District of Columbia Bar Association and has received national recognition for her pro bono efforts. Liz's sphere of influence as a nurse-attorney combined with her education in bioethics enables a unique contribution to nursing ethics, law and policy.

Advisory Board

The Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board is a deliberative body of experts who focus on providing guidance to the Center concerning issues of current ethical concern to nursing practice, education, research, administration, and other matters of concern relating to the Center's mission and goals. The Board recommends policy about issues of concern in Ethics and Human Rights to the ANA Board of Directors.

Advisory Board Members

Catherine Robichaux

PhD, RN, CNS, Alumnus CCRN

Term of Appointment 2014-2018

Catherine Robichaux is an assistant professor, adjunct, at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, and The University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Her clinical background is adult critical care and she has taught ethics at the undergraduate and graduate levels and serves as the Nursing Ethics Council faculty advisor and research mentor at University Health System in San Antonio, Texas. Catherine has conducted and published funded research on ethical issues in end-of-life care in adult and pediatric/neonatal intensive care units and moral distress and ethical climate in acute care settings.She has also explored the quality of dying and death in rural and border hospitals in the Southwest.

Catherine has been contributing editor for ethical issues for Critical Care Nurse and serves on the editorial board of Clinical Nursing Studies and the editorial advisory board of OJIN. Catherine is the editor of the Springer publication Ethical Competence in Nursing Practice: Competencies, Skills, and Decision-Making (2016). She participated on the Steering Committee to revise the Code of Ethics (2015) and is a recipient of the Circle of Excellence Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses for her work in promoting ethical work environments

Donna M. Casey

DNP, MA, RN, NE-BC, FABC

Board Chairperson

Term of Appointment 2017-2020

Dr. Donna Casey serves as the Chair of the ANA Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board.  Dr. Casey is the Chief Nursing Officer at the Jefferson Health, New Jersey, Washington Township Hospital.  Dr. Casey has over 30 years’ experience in direct patient care, nursing leadership and clinical bioethics.

Eileen Weber

DNP, JD, BSN, PHN, RN

Term of Appointment 2017-2020

Eileen Weber is a nurse attorney and clinical associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and affiliate faculty for the university's Center for Bioethics. She teaches undergraduate and graduate ethics, leadership, and public policy in the context of a continuum of interprofessional healthcare. She founded and chairs the Healthcare Legal Partnership Collaborative. Her mission is to advance innovations in Healthcare Legal Partnerships that promote just, equitable, and fair healthcare for all through the integration of legal services and healthcare delivery. Weber serves on the state health department's Health Care Homes Learning Collaborative Program Innovation Workgroup, its rulemaking advisory committee, and the state's Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Advisory Board where she focuses on clinical education and environmental justice. She serves on the American Nurses Association's Center for Ethics and Human Rights Advisory Board, the University of Minnesota Medical Center (Fairview) clinical ethics committee, and the clinical ethics committee for the Hennepin Healthcare hospital (formerly Hennepin County Medical Center).  Weber earned both her BSN degree, summa cum laude, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in Health Innovation and Leadership from the University of Minnesota. She earned her JD degree in the founding class of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. Her clinical experience includes urban critical care, emergency nursing and public health. Weber served as vice-president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, earning awards for political action and outstanding service. She represented nursing on the Minnesota Health Care Commission, was a regular columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and an op-ed writer for the Star Tribune. Weber coordinated and led interprofessional education on care coordination with the nationally renowned Hennepin Health county-based initiative for Medicaid enrollees. She has extensive experience in legislative lobbying, community activism, and political campaign management. Weber's scholarship is focused on the intersection of nursing, law, ethics, public policy and interprofessional collaboration.

Elizabeth Swanson

DNP, MPH, APRN-BC

Term of Appointment 2014-2018

Elizabeth O’Connor Swanson is an Assistant Professor in the Mary Black School of Nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate.   Betsy maintains an active clinical practice as a CNS/FNP at the Upstate Evaluation Center, South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, where she provides primary care for adjudicated female juveniles.

Dr. Swanson earned an Associate Degree from Holyoke Community College, a BSN from Baylor University, and a Master in Nursing and Master in Public Health from Emory University.   After recognizing most young people that were incarcerated suffered with at least one mental health disorder, Betsy earned a certificate as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Intervention Specialist at Arizona State University.   During her studies for a Doctor of Nursing Practice at the Medical University of South Carolina,   Dr. Swanson conducted research on unrecognized grief and post-traumatic stress in incarcerated female juveniles.  

Betsy’s interest in nursing ethics began very early in her career.  As a new graduate, she worked in a burn unit in Dallas where ethical dilemmas were common. Dr. Swanson has an interest in ethical issues facing nurses providing care to adolescents, particularly those nurses who work in a correctional setting.  She was a member of the Code of Ethics Revision Steering Committee. 

Heather Fitzgerald

MS, RN

Heather Fitzgerald is a clinical nurse ethicist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In this role, she provides ethics education, consultation and policy review and development in clinical settings throughout the hospital. Heather co-chairs the Ethics Committee and chairs the Ethics Liaisons Committee at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Her clinical background is in the neonatal intensive care unit, where she frequently encountered ethical issues in the care of patients and families. Participation in both unit-based and hospital-wide ethics committees led to a Master of Science in Healthcare Ethics. Heather is currently pursuing a doctorate in Organizational Ethics.  Prior to her nursing career, Heather produced theatre for 17 years.  Her background in both the humanities and the sciences supports her well in her role.

Kathryn Schroeter

PhD, MA-Bioethics, MS, RN, CNOR, CNE

Term of Appointment 2017-2020

Dr. Kathryn Schroeter is an Associate Professor at Marquette University College of Nursing in Milwaukee, WI where she teaches graduate courses including Ethics, Policy and Health Care Advocacy.  At the Medical College of Wisconsin, she is an adjunct Assistant Professor at the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities where she practices clinical ethics and serves on both the organizational Ethics Committee and the Institutional Review Board.  At Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee she is a Nurse Scientist/Clinical Ethicist.  She also holds an Adjunct Clinical Professor position at Columbia College of Nursing in Glendale, WI, where she teaches Bioethics at the undergraduate level. 

She served as a member of the ANA Code of Ethics Revision Steering committee and is a contributing author of the 2015 ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses.  She also served as the Code of Ethics liaison for the ANA workgroup charged with the 2015 revision of the ANA publication - Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. Her clinical practice area is perioperative nursing and she recently completed an appointment as the chair of the AORN Ethics Committee to write explications of the ANA Code of Ethics for application to perioperative nursing practice.

Linda L. Olson

PhD, MBA, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Term of Appointment 2017-2020

Linda L. Olson, PhD, MBA, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN has held various positions in nursing practice, nursing administration, and nursing education, both in service and academic settings. She currently directs the Institute of Regulatory Excellence Fellowship Program at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. This fellowship program prepares its fellows to conduct research projects that contribute to the science of nursing regulation. Prior to this, she was Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, and a former tenured Associate Professor in the graduate program at St. Xavier University in Chicago. Her areas of teaching expertise include nursing research at the undergraduate and graduate levels, health care policy and ethics, and health care leadership. She is currently an adjunct professor at Loyola University of Chicago, where she has taught courses in nursing ethics at the undergraduate level, and health care policy at the doctoral level with PhD students.

Dr. Olson completed a PhD in nursing science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her research focused on the topic of ethics and organizational climate. The instrument she developed as a component of her dissertation research, the Hospital Ethical Climate Survey, has been used by numerous nursing and healthcare researchers nationally and internationally. Dr. Olson served on the Code of Ethics Taskforce, which resulted in the 2001 revision of the Code. She has also served on the ANA Congress on Nursing Practice and Economics, and as a delegate from Illinois to the ANA House of Delegates. She has published chapters in the ANA publications on Guide to the Code of Ethics for Nurses: Interpretation and Application (2008, 2010), and The Essential Guide to Nursing Practice: Applying ANA's Scope and Standards in Practice and Education (2012).

Marcia Bosek

DNSc, RN

Term of Appointment 2014-2018

Marcia Bosek DNSc, RN is an Associate Professor at the University of Vermont where she teaches didactic and clinical nursing courses to undergraduate and doctoral nursing students.  In addition to her academic role, Dr. Bosek has 20 years of experience serving as a clinical ethicist.

Dr. Bosek also serves as the Nurse Scientist at the University of Vermont Medical Center where she mentors nurses to conduct nursing research.

She holds a BSN from Goshen College, Goshen Indiana.  A MSN from Indiana University.  Her doctoral degree with a focus in nursing ethics was earned at Rush University.  Her program of research focuses on how healthcare professionals make clinical ethical decisions. 

Dr. Bosek (2007) co-authored a nursing ethics textbook titled The ethical component of nursing education: Integrating ethics into clinical experiences.  She has published over 60 articles, book chapters and/or ethics columns.  She is a member of the American Nurses Association, and Sigma Theta Tau.

Michele Upvall

PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN

Term of Appointment 2017-2018

Michele J. Upvall PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing and Coordinator of the Nurse Educator program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She earned her bachelor's degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree from Penn State University, and a PhD in Transcultural Nursing from the University of Utah. She also completed certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Arizona State University. In October 2016, she was named Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Upvall has extensive experience in the practice of global health. She studied the collaborative practices of nursing with indigenous healers in Swaziland and the Navajo Nation and she has worked with Somali refugee women and their families in Pennsylvania. Also, she served as a nurse educator for Project HOPE in Swaziland and nursing education consultant in Zanzibar and Lebanon. During her tenure at Northern Arizona University Dr. Upvall developed and coordinated the first local BSN program for Navajo and Hopi students in Ganado, Arizona. She then traveled to the Aga Khan University School of Nursing in Karachi, Pakistan where she was the Director of the BSN and RN to BSN programs. While in Pakistan, she facilitated the development of the first Masters of Nursing program in the country.

After five years in Pakistan, Dr. Upvall returned to the US to become Associate Dean of Nursing at Carlow University. She has numerous publications related to global health and is co-editor of the book, Global Health Nursing: Building and Sustaining Partnerships. Dr. Upvall recently completed a Fulbright scholarship at Khon Kaen University in Thailand where she now serves as a Senior Researcher in the Faculty of Nursing. Her current scholarship focus is research ethics capacity development in central Vietnam.

Nelda Godfrey

PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

Professor and Associate Dean, Innovative Partnerships and Practice

Term of Appointment 2017-2020

Nelda Godfrey, PhD, ACNS-BC, FAAN, is currently Professor and Associate Dean for Innovative Partnerships and Practice at the University of Kansas School of Nursing.  She has a long history of involvement with ethics, including serving for more than 10 years as a public member of two health system ethics committees. She has taught ethics courses in nursing and in liberal studies, and helped create a liberal arts capstone course entitled “Birth by any Means:  The Ethics of Reproductive Technologies.” 

Dr. Godfrey and colleague Nancy Crigger co-authored the book, “The Making of Nurse Professionals: A Transformational, Ethical Perspective” as a response to the Carnegie Foundation study on Preparing the Professions. Since that time, Dr. Godfrey and her colleagues have been developing a nursing perspective of professional identity formation and expanding the view within nursing to include formation as an important education, practice and policy consideration.

A recent contributor to American Nurse Today, Dr. Godfrey has written widely on ethics, nursing leadership, professional identity and innovative organizational approaches to nursing education.  Her BSN and PhD are from the University of Missouri and her MSN is from the University of Kansas.  She is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Care.

Thomas Ray Coe

PhD, MBA, MHA, MS, RN-BC, NEA-BC, FACHE

Term of Appointment 2017-2020

Dr. Ray Coe is Chief, Quality, Safety and Value for the VA North Texas Healthcare System, maintaining an office at the Dallas VA Medical Center. He is retired from the US Army Nurse Corps where he served at various medical locations, including as a member of the Ethics Committee and Ethics Consultation Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In addition, he currently serves on the Advisory Board of the American Nurses Association Center for Ethics and Human Rights. He earned his PhD in nursing at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements

(View Only for Members and Non-Members)

Activities

Consultation and Clearinghouse

Constituent Member Associations (CMAs), individual nurses, nurse administrators, educators, journal editors, lawyers, physicians, human rights organizations and other health professionals frequently contact the Center. Issues of interest include the creation and participation in ethics committees at the institutional and state level, clarification of ANA position statements, policies and guidelines of the Code for Nurses With Interpretive Statements.

The Center regularly receives calls from nurses seeking advice on specific cases, references, citations and summaries of current literature. Information and guidance related to the implementation of the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA), advance directives and development of ethics courses and programs are often sought. ANA Organizational Units receive consultation, dissemination of pertinent information on an ongoing basis, as well as, assistance in ensuring that ethical and human rights issues are addressed throughout the organization.

Policy Development

End-of-Life Issues

The former Task Force on the Nurse's Role in End-of-Life Decisions developed position statements on assisted suicide and active euthanasia which were approved by the ANA Board of Directors in December 1994. The Center continues its work on end-of-life issues through activities with the Robert Wood Johnson funded programs such as the Last Acts Campaign. We have participated in curriculum development and teaching activities for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) offered by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the City of Hope Medical Center. We are a member of Nursing Leadership Academy in End-of-Life Care created by the Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing and supported by the SOROS Foundation. Joan Laurie, a member of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, is coordinating a series of articles that will appear in the American Nurses (TAN). Contact the Center for more information.

See Ethics and Human Rights position statements

Genetic Advances

In the mid 1990s, the Center developed a publication, through a grant program funded by the National Institutes of Health, entitled"Managing Genetic Information: Policies for U.S. Nurses." This publication provides guidance to nurses as they confront the challenges related to handling increasing amounts of genetic information. The Center has applied (in collaboration with other organizations) for additional NIH funding to develop genetics education programs for health professionals.

Through the Center, the ANA along with the American Medical Association and the National Human Genome Research Institute created the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics. This coalition aims to provide an organized, systematic and national approach to the provision of genetics education for all health care professionals. The Coalition is comprised of leaders from approximately 100 diverse health care professional organizations, consumer and voluntary groups, government agencies, private industry, managed care organizations and genetic professional societies.

Health Care Issues

Using Nursing's Agenda for Health Care Reform as a basis, the Center is tracking the human rights and ethics issues in health care initiatives (e.g. organizational ethics, confidentiality, and privacy, managed care, changing provider mix, health services, for undocumented persons) and the impact on the profession of nursing.

Education and Outreach

The Center maintains contact with the 54 Constituent Member Associations (CMAs) to provide an opportunity for identification and discussion of priority issues within the states and exploration and development of professional and ethical nursing practice. On-site consultation and presentations are provided to CMAs and other organizations such as the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics, and the Association of Law, Medicine and Ethics.

The Center has established liaisons with national bioethics centers and human rights organizations. It has participated in developing and conducting seminars and ethics courses for nursing programs.

The Center promotes dissemination of information on issues of ethics and human rights through the website and its newsletter Issues Update and other articles produced by the Center.

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