JHU creates joint professorship in nursing, bioethics

Since the time of Hippocrates, medical professionals have grappled with not only their patients' health problems but the inevitable ethical issues that arise. To continue improving the quality and ethical delivery of patient care, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics have jointly established the Anne and George L. Bunting Professorship in Clinical Ethics, a unique professorship combining bioethics and the nursing profession.

Following a nationwide search, Cynda Hylton Rushton has been named the inaugural Bunting Professor. Rushton has been with Johns Hopkins for more than 20 years, beginning as a clinical nurse specialist in ethics in 1991. In 1995, she joined the faculties of the School of Nursing and the newly established Berman Institute, and she has been program director of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center Harriet Lane Compassionate Care program since 2000.

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have this rare opportunity to engage and explore the ethical foundations of nursing in a new and strategic way," Rushton says. "We are at a critical juncture in health care; the ethical issues that impact patients, their families, and clinicians must become part of the national dialogue in order to illuminate ethically sound solutions and cultivate environments where integrity is preserved."

The holder of the professorship, part of the Berman Institute's core faculty, will work collaboratively with faculty and students of both institutions to identify, analyze, and attempt to resolve the ethical dilemmas that arise in caring for patients and their families. George L. Bunting, a longtime member of the Berman Institute's advisory board and philanthropic supporter of the university, has been integral to the institute's growth into one of the world's largest and most respected centers of bioethics.

Ruth Faden, director of the Berman Institute, says, "This generous gift from the Bunting family is an exceptional opportunity for Johns Hopkins University to establish a leadership role in nursing and clinical ethics, both nationally and globally."

First proposed a decade ago, the professorship represents years of dedication, perseverance, and collaboration between Bunting, Faden, and School of Nursing Dean Martha Hill.

Says Hill, "This joint endowed professorship highlights the increasingly important interprofessional role of nursing and bioethics. Dr. Rushton brings to the professorship the expert nursing perspective that is essential to today's bioethics scholarship and debate and will be required in shaping tomorrow's health care policies.

This professorship brings the Berman Institute closer to its goal of an endowed joint professorship in each of the four schools with which it has formal ties: Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health.