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Controversial Nursing Topics: Exploring Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

This article was written in collaboration with Christine T. and ChatGPT, our little helper developed by OpenAI.

Controversial Nursing Topics_ Exploring Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing Practice

Nursing practice often encounters ethical dilemmas and controversial topics, which can be challenging for experienced professionals and nursing students. This article explores three key controversial nursing areas: euthanasia and assisted suicide, medical marijuana use, and vaccination ethics. By gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities and debates surrounding these topics, nursing students can develop a well-rounded perspective and prepare themselves for the challenging situations they may face in their careers.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

1. Historical Perspectives on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:

Explore the origins of the debate surrounding euthanasia, including early discussions and societal attitudes throughout history.

2. Cultural and Religious Views on Euthanasia:

Examine how cultural and religious beliefs shaped perspectives on euthanasia and assisted suicide, considering various traditions and belief systems.

3. The Slippery Slope Argument in Euthanasia Debates:

Discuss the “slippery slope” argument often raised in euthanasia debates, analyzing its validity and implications.

4. Voluntary vs. Involuntary Euthanasia:

Compare and contrast voluntary euthanasia, where the patient consents to the procedure, and involuntary euthanasia, where consent is not obtained, discussing the ethical considerations involved.

5. The Role of Palliative Care in Euthanasia Discussions:

Examine the role of palliative care in managing patients’ end-of-life needs and how it relates to the euthanasia debate.

6. The legal status of euthanasia worldwide:

Investigate the legal status of euthanasia and assisted suicide in various countries, exploring the factors influencing these laws and their impact on healthcare systems.

7. The Ethical Implications of Physician-Assisted Suicide:

Delve into the ethical issues surrounding physician-assisted suicide, focusing on patient autonomy, the sanctity of life, and the responsibilities of healthcare providers.

8. The Role of Nurses in Assisted Suicide:

Explore nurses’ unique challenges and responsibilities when involved in assisted suicide cases, considering both legal and ethical aspects.

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Topic Examples

  • The Right to Die and Patient Autonomy
  • Assessing the Quality of Life and Decision-Making Capacity
  • The Impact of Euthanasia on Healthcare Professionals
  • The Role of Family Members in Euthanasia Decisions
  • Public Opinion on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
  • The Role of Mental Health Professionals in Euthanasia Decisions
  • Euthanasia: An Analysis of Utilitarian Approach
  • Euthanasia and Disability Rights
  • Comparing Euthanasia Laws and Practices Between Countries
  • The Impact of Euthanasia on the Doctor-Patient Relationship
  • Ethical Theories and Principles Applied to Euthanasia Debates
  • Euthanasia and the Concept of a “Good Death”
  • Euthanasia in Pediatrics
  • Comparing faith practices in healthcare: Sikhism, Judaism and Bahaism, and Christianity
  • Euthanasia and Terminal Illness Prognosis
  • Psychological Factors Influencing Euthanasia Decisions
  • The Role of Pain Management in Euthanasia Discussions
  • Euthanasia and Resource Allocation in Healthcare
  • The Media Portrayal of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
  • Euthanasia: An Analysis of Utilitarian Approach
  • The Impact of Euthanasia Legislation on Palliative Care
  • Personal Narratives and Experiences of Euthanasia

Medical Marijuana Use

1. Historical Perspectives on Medical Marijuana Use:

Trace the history of medical marijuana use, including early medicinal applications and the evolving societal attitudes towards the drug.

2. The Pharmacology of Cannabinoids and Their Therapeutic Effects:

Examine the pharmacology of cannabinoids, the active compounds in marijuana, and their potential therapeutic effects on various medical conditions.

3. Medical Marijuana Legalization and Its Impact on Public Health:

Investigate the impact of medical marijuana legalization on public health, considering both potential benefits and risks.

4. The Role of Nurses in Medical Marijuana Administration:

Discuss the role and responsibilities of nurses in administering medical marijuana, including patient education, monitoring, and ethical considerations.

5. Medical Marijuana Use for Specific Conditions:

Explore the application of medical marijuana for various medical conditions, such as pain management, oncology, neurology, mental health treatment, and palliative care.

6. The Ethical Implications of Medical Marijuana Use:

Delve into the ethical issues surrounding medical marijuana use, including patient autonomy, potential risks and benefits, and the role of healthcare professionals.

Topic Examples

  • The Role of Nurses in the Medical Marijuana Administration
  • Medical Marijuana Use for Pain Management
  • Medical Marijuana Use in Oncology
  • Medical Marijuana Use in Neurology
  • Medical Marijuana Use in Mental Health Treatment
  • Medical Marijuana Use in Palliative Care
  • Medical Marijuana Use in Pediatrics
  • Medical Marijuana Use and Addiction Potential
  • Medical Marijuana Use and Patient Safety
  • Medical Marijuana Use and Healthcare Costs
  • Comparing Medical Marijuana Laws and Practices Between Countries
  • Public Opinion on Medical Marijuana Use
  • The Role of Medical Marijuana in Drug Policy Reform
  • The Impact of Medical Marijuana Legalization on Nursing Practice
  • Medical Marijuana Use and Nursing Education
  • The Role of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Medical Marijuana Debates
  • The Impact of Medical Marijuana Use on Opioid Prescription Rates
  • The Role of Alternative Medicine in Medical Marijuana Discussions
  • The Media Portrayal of Medical Marijuana Use
  • Personal Narratives and Experiences of Medical Marijuana Use
  • The Role of Medical Marijuana in Harm Reduction Strategies
  • Medical Marijuana Use in Senior Care
  • Medical Marijuana Use and Patient Confidentiality

Vaccination Ethics

1. Historical Perspectives on Vaccination and Immunization:

Examine the history of vaccination and immunization, including early vaccination efforts, modern vaccine development, and societal attitudes toward vaccines.

2. The Science Behind Vaccines and Their Effectiveness:

Explore the scientific basis of vaccines, including how they work, their efficacy, and the importance of vaccination in preventing infectious diseases.

3. Vaccination Myths and Misconceptions:

Address common myths and misconceptions surrounding vaccination, providing evidence-based information to debunk these misconceptions and clarify the benefits of vaccination.

4. The Role of Nurses in Vaccine Administration and Education:

Discuss the essential role of nurses in vaccine administration and patient education, highlighting the importance of promoting vaccine literacy and addressing patients’ concerns.

5. Mandatory Vaccination Policies and Ethical Implications:

Investigate the ethical implications of mandatory vaccination policies, considering the balance between public health interests and individual autonomy.

6. The Impact of Vaccine Hesitancy on Public Health:

Examine the consequences of vaccine hesitancy on public health, including the potential for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and the strain on healthcare systems.

7. Ethical Considerations in Vaccine Development and Distribution:

Explore the ethical issues involved in vaccine development, including the prioritization of resources, diverse populations in clinical trials, and the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide.

8. The Role of Healthcare Professionals in Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy:

Discuss the responsibilities of healthcare professionals, including nurses, in addressing vaccine hesitancy and promoting vaccination uptake.

Topic Examples

  • The Impact of Vaccination Policies on Vulnerable Populations
  • The Role of Informed Consent in Vaccination
  • Vaccination and Individual Rights vs. Public Health
  • The Role of Government in Vaccination Programs
  • The Influence of the Anti-Vaccine Movement on Public Health
  • The Impact of Social Media on Vaccination Beliefs and Behaviors
  • The Ethics of Vaccination in Emergencies
  • Vaccination and the Role of Herd Immunity
  • Ethical Considerations in Vaccine Prioritization
  • The Role of Pharmaceutical Companies in Vaccine Development and Distribution
  • Vaccine Safety and Monitoring for Adverse Effects
  • The Ethics of Vaccination in Pregnancy and Newborns
  • Vaccination in Schools and the Role of School Nurses
  • The Impact of Vaccination on the Eradication of Infectious Diseases
  • The Role of Vaccination in Global Health Initiatives
  • Comparing Vaccination Policies and Practices Between Countries
  • The Media Portrayal of Vaccination Controversies
  • Personal Narratives and Experiences Related to Vaccination
  • The Future of Vaccination: Ethical Considerations in New Vaccine Technologies


Exploring controversial nursing topics, such as euthanasia, medical marijuana use, and vaccination ethics, offers nursing students valuable insights into the ethical dilemmas they may encounter in their practice. By understanding the complexities and debates surrounding these issues, nursing students can be better prepared to navigate the challenging situations that arise in healthcare and make well-informed, ethical decisions in their professional lives.