Reply by Authors to Sophia M. Jones on “What Would You Do? Ethics and Infection Control”

What Would You Do? Ethics and Infection Control
Letter to the Editor by Sophia Jones

Dear Sophia Jones:

We thank Sophia Jones for her response to our ethics column on infection control.  Sophia presented the viewpoint that nursing students should not care for patients with SARS.  Her moral justification was that students should be protected from harm or potential harm (SARS in this case). This is justifiable; however we would like to present another viewpoint.

We believe that whether one is a nursing student or a nurse, one assumes a certain amount of professional risk and that the education should process should prepare us for that risk.  Nevertheless, that risk is secondary to safe patient care.  Thus, our moral justification is based on the ethical premise of "first, do no harm" to patients.  And not giving care to the SARS patient could constitute a harm or potential harm. Nursing clinical educators have the duty to provide students with many learning opportunities in a controlled environment. These opportunities are often best encountered when there is support and education as opposed to situations that practicing nurses may find when they are facing a care situation with no prior experience. We believe with proper protection, knowledge of the disease, and close monitoring by faculty student nurses should have little fear about SARS.

We encourage further dialogue.

Mary Silva (
Ruth Ludwick (