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Introducing Ethics NSHA

Ethics NSHA, the new model for delivery of comprehensive ethics support services within the province-wide health authority, was launched in January 2017. The model was developed by the Ethics Collaborations Team of the Dalhousie University Department of Bioethics in close collaboration with NSHA’s Vice-President of Research, Innovation and Knowledge Translation and a wide variety of experienced ethics-support-providers within Nova Scotia’s former health districts.

Ethics NSHA consists of three dynamically-interconnected, operational components: Local Ethics Teams, Zone Ethics Committees and the Ethics Leads Group:

  • Local Ethics Teams consist of local ethics ‘point persons’ who identify and respond to local ethics needs in geographic areas throughout the province that roughly correlate with the core health care delivery structures of the former health districts. Members of these teams are focused in particular on: 1) direct engagement in clinical ethics consultation activities, and 2) the identification of local ethics education needs.
  • Zone Ethics Committees directly engage in, and provide oversight to, all health care ethics activities within their zone. The roles of these committees include: 1) the coordination, and provision of support to, the clinical ethics activities of their zone’s Local Ethics teams, and 2) the coordination and implementation of ethics education activities within the zone. In addition, committee members apply a valuable ‘zonal lens’ to the identification and handling of organizational ethics issues, and the development and review of authority-wide health policies with strong ethics elements.
  • The Ethics Leads Group consists of the chairs (or designates) of the four Zone Ethics Committees and the three members of the Dalhousie Ethics Collaborations Team. It provides guidance and oversight to all of Ethics NSHA’s activities with particular engagement in: 1) the performance of organizational ethics consultations that arise and are of relevance to NSHA, and 2) the development and review of authority-wide health policies with robust ethics dimensions. In addition, the Ethics Leads Group identifies emerging, key health care ethics themes and trends that are brought to the attention of NSHA’s Executive.
NSHEN plays a key role in the Ethics NSHA Model. It provides innovative, ethics-education support through: 1) the development and delivery of targeted workshops and educational sessions within the zones, and 2) the development of a variety of ethics educational materials and tools for use by those who participate in ethics support activities. NSHEN’s Network Ethicist is a member of the Ethics Leads Group.

Ethics NSHA offers the following four, main types of health care ethics consultation/support, which individual requestors or groups can access through a new Requesting Ethics Support webpage that is temporarily located on the Capital Health Ethics Support website at: From there, requestors can click onto subpages consisting of request forms for the particular types of consultation/support that they are seeking.

Clinical Ethics Consultation
  • Request for assistance in answering an ethics-related question or addressing a health care ethics matter that relates directly to the treatment of a specific patient.
Ethics Education
  • Request for assistance in the preparation and/or delivery of an educational session where the topic has a health care ethics element.
Policy Development and Review
  • Request for assistance in the development or review of a health policy that has a health care ethics element.
Organizational Ethics Consultation
  • Request for assistance in answering an organization-ethics-related question or addressing an organizational ethics matter that pertains to NSHA or one of its zones or programs.

This is an exciting time for the delivery of health care ethics support services in NSHA. We invite you to regularly engage with functional elements of the new Ethics NSHA Model, and to provide us with feedback about how it works for you in 2017. The new Ethics NSHA Website is currently under development by the Ethics Leads Group, and it is anticipated that it will be launched on NSHA’s Extranet in the Spring.  

Jeff Kirby is a professor in the Dalhousie University Department of Bioethics and a member of the Dalhousie Ethics Collaborations Team.


Assessing and Addressing Suffering - Katie Aven, Staff Chaplain, VG Site, Nova Scotia Health Authority
New Fireside Chat Video 

Katie Aven, Staff Chaplain
VG Site, Nova Scotia Health Authority

Katie Aven discusses how to assess and address the suffering in people.

Also available, our Discussion Questions resource available here

Ethics After Hours

See our newest addition to the list of NSHEN ethics resources: ‘Ethics after Hours’.

In ‘Ethics after Hours’ you will find suggestions for media entertainment including movies, short videos, and podcasts that raise ethical questions in relation to health, justice and society in general.

A discussion sheet is available with a short summary of the program and a list of questions to generate discussion. Go to the NSHEN ‘Ethics after Hours’ page to see the latest suggestions for ethics related entertainment.

Our latest suggestions are the short YouTube videos by Dr Brené Brown on Empathy and Blame, along with discussion questions. 


Good morning, universe
Have You Seen Our Video Library?  

In our video library on our Vimeo channel, we have over 39 videos on topics ranging from Social Media, Palliative Sedation, The Right to Risk and Conscientious Objection, just to name a few. 

Check out our library here, these short videos are great for ethics events, such as lunch 'n' learn, ethic days and just quick refreshers. 

NSHEN's New Website

We have recently revamped our website to allow for more inclusion of our resource links, a better search function, a searchable book library; just an overall fresher and cleaner look. 

We invite you to check it out and let us know what you think! If there are any links that aren't working or videos that are not playing, or even if you have suggestions about menus or additional information to add, please let us know! Send feedback to Krista Mleczko-Skerry


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We hope you have found our communication helpful and informative and would like to continue providing these to you.

"Did You Know"

NSHEN currently has a library of books that may be of interest to you. We will ship the book to you and include a postage paid envelope to return the book to us. All you need to do is read! 

Recent additions include: 
-Social Determinants of Health, 3rd Edition: Camadian Perspectives
-The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat And Other Clinical Tales  
-And Again, A Novel

Please check our website for complete listing and contact the Administrator to arrange a book loan.



NSHEN is now on Twitter!

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What Makes NSHEN Unique?

While there are other ethics networks and centres across the country, there are a few features that make NSHEN unique within Canada.

 * Our collaborative structure facilitates dialogue between partners
 * Our strategic goals are collectively established by the collaborating partners
 * NSHEN involves academia,  government, and health care organizations in a single network.

This results in a network that is innovative, efficient, and responsive to ethics needs in Nova Scotia

You're receiving this newsletter because you have worked with or are a friend of the Nova Scotia Health Ethics Network.

For general NSHEN information contact the NSHEN Administrator directly:
Krista Mleczko-Skerry | (902) 494-4038
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Dept of Bioethics
Dalhousie University
5849 University Ave
Rm C313, CRC Bldg
PO Box 15000
Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2

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Nova Scotia Health Ethics Network · 5849 University Ave · Rm C313, CRC Bldg, Po Box 15000 · Halifax, NS B3H 4R2 · Canada

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