Article Content

Colleges and universities have historically been settings in which highly charged political views are exchanged and debated. It is important that nurse educators maintain a focused approach to managing political discussions in educational settings. Some content areas that may lead to a political dialogue include health care reform, health care economics, and regulatory guidelines. However, there are other less apparent content areas that could expose a political debate including caring for marginalized populations, such as refugees and transgender populations, and philosophically controversial topics including stem cell research or abortion practices. It is important that nurse educators not only maintain a working knowledge of the political challenges related to health care, but also model respectful exchange of ideas when broaching highly charged topics. Setting ground rules and sharing them with the class provide both the educator and learner with a framework to exchange political ideology with meaning and purpose leading to subsequent growth and learning. In leading these discussions, the teacher should (1) evaluate the value of sharing political viewpoints in context of the learning environments' educational goals before engaging in discourse, (2) encourage students to support contributions with facts, (3) model professional language and transparency of thought process, and (4) maintain a focus on a culture of inquiry, innovation, and open-mindedness. By setting and sharing these expectations, the classroom can serve as a powerful tool to exchange complex viewpoints.


By Rachel Scherzer, MSN, RN, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (mailto:[email protected]).