Exploring Ethical Nursing Essay Outline

Writing an ethics essay for nursing school requires strong organizational and analytical skills. With nursing ethics encompassing complex situational dilemmas and debates, having an effective essay structure is key. This outline provides a robust framework for tackling an ethics in nursing paper:


  • Begin with an engaging opening hook that grabs attention. You might ask a thoughtful question, present a startling fact/statistic, or briefly describe a case example illustrating the ethical dilemma to be addressed.
  • Provide 1-2 paragraphs clearly defining key terms such as nursing ethics, deontology, utilitarianism, autonomy, justice, etc. This establishes common terminology for analyzing the issue.
  • Give necessary background for reader understanding. Explain why ethics is important in nursing and briefly describe any relevant historical/cultural context surrounding the issue.
  • Introduce the main ethical dilemma, controversy, or decision to be discussed. Detail the specific circumstances, stakeholders involved, and nursing considerations.
  • Conclude the introduction with your central thesis statement outlining your main position/argument regarding the ethical issue.

Background Ethical Theory

  • Provide an overview of major ethical frameworks used in healthcare fields. This should be approximately 2-3 paragraphs for each theory:
    • Deontology focuses on universal duties and rules. Kant’s categorical imperative is a key principle.
    • Utilitarianism promotes actions that maximize overall benefit and well-being. The end can justify the means.
    • Care ethics emphasizes compassion, relationships, and contextual needs. Relational autonomy is a core tenet.
  • Explain how these frameworks align with different stakeholders’ viewpoints on the issue. Foreshadow how they will guide your analysis.

Stakeholder Perspectives

  • Provide approximately 1 paragraph summarizing the viewpoint and concerns of each key stakeholder. For a nursing scenario, consider:
    • Patient’s values, beliefs, autonomy, rights
    • Family members’ wishes, emotional stakes, care duties
    • Physicians’ responsibilities, medical judgment calls
    • Nurses’ professional code of ethics, scope of practice
    • Hospital administrators’ resource limits, cost-benefit analysis
  • Aim to describe all perspectives objectively before weighing arguments.

Ethical Analysis

  • Over 2-3 pages, conduct an in-depth ethical analysis centered on the key frameworks you outlined earlier.
    • Weigh the rights, responsibilities, and unintended consequences of actions based on deontological considerations.
    • Evaluate the costs/benefits and utility of outcomes through a utilitarian lens.
    • Assess relational factors and contextual needs from a care ethics perspective.
    • Consider alternative solutions and concessions to conflicting viewpoints.
  • Address counterarguments and rebuttals to your claims. Provide concrete examples and evidence to support the ethical reasoning.


  • Based on your analysis, recommend approximately 2-3 actions that the nurse and other stakeholders should take.
  • For each recommendation, explain ethical justification and likely benefits/outcomes. Also acknowledge potential barriers to implementation.
  • Strive for realistic recommendations aligned with professional nursing standards of care and codes of ethics.


  • Succinctly summarize the key ethical issue, your central argument, and the moral reasoning that led to your recommendations.
  • Restate the significance of nursing ethics and the importance of reasoned reflection on complex dilemmas.
  • Close with a memorable final thought on how nurses can promote ethical practice.

Tips for Applying the Outline

When drafting an ethics essay for nursing using the outline above, keep these tips in mind:

  • Tailor details to align with your specific assignment requirements
  • Allow flexibility for your own analysis and writing voice
  • Focus on depth over breadth – avoid sweeping general claims
  • Back up claims with cited facts, examples, and/or expert sources
  • Leave time to proofread for clarity, grammar, citations, and logical flow
  • Use the recommended headings as a guide, but adjust organization to fit your needs
  • Include relevant ethical codes and nursing standards to strengthen analysis
  • Define specialized terms and explain contextual references for clarity
  • Address counterarguments and limitations of your own position
  • Balance objective descriptions with subjective ethical analysis
  • Consider framing the issue through a current/relevant nursing case study
  • Visual aids like tables/charts may help summarize complex info
  • Double-check page length and formatting comply with requirements
  • Cite at least 3-5 credible sources from nursing ethics literature
  • When quoting sources, use sparingly and analyze the information
  • Seek feedback from peers/professors on outline draft before writing
  • Reference outline frequently to maintain focus as you write sections
  • Have a clear thesis and conclusion in mind before creating the outline
  • Number and label outline sections for easy organization and revisions
  • Highlight areas in your outline needing more research/sources/analysis
  • Be mindful of tone and avoid definitives when tackling nuanced issues

Using an adaptable yet robust ethics essay outline sets you up for success when tackling complex nursing dilemmas and moral analyses. What matters most is conveying sound critical reflection and reasoning on vital ethical issues.

Final Thoughts On Ethics nursing essay format/outline

In the dynamic landscape of healthcare, the ethics of nursing remains a cornerstone of providing compassionate and competent patient care. The format and outline of an ethics nursing essay, therefore, not only serves as a structure to discuss ethical dilemmas and principles but also underscores the importance of introspection and critical thinking in the nursing profession. 

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Nurses can articulate their understanding, beliefs, and conclusions regarding various ethical scenarios by adhering to a coherent essay format. In doing so, they contribute to the broader discourse on ethical healthcare practices and emphasize the value of continuous ethical education in nursing. As healthcare evolves, so must our approach to discussing and understanding its ethical dimensions, and a well-structured essay is a testament to that commitment.

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