Moral reasoning and the student nurse



The traditional curriculum in nurse education has tended to emphasize the acquisition of knowledge and practical skills and to ignore, for the most part, close examination of the social and moral dimensions of the nuree's role. The authors suggest that we ought to include a much more substantial consideration of moral issues in the nurse education and, in particular, they argue that Kohlberg's model of moral development could provide a theoretical framework. This model is based on a cognitive-developmental approach in which an individual's level of reasoning is assessed by the use of a variety of hypothetical dilemmas. Kohlberg claims to identify six qualitatively distinct stages and argues that the transition from one stage to the next results from the individual's active attempts to resolve conflicts arising from moral dilemmas. Some suggestions are made about the ways in which discussion of moral dilemmas might be incorporated within a moral reasoning module in the nurse education curriculum and proposals are made for methods of teaching such a module.