Exploration of Multicultural Student Education on Ethical Issues in an Australian Undergraduate Nursing Curriculum

Angela Dawn Sheedy1, *

1 Department of CDU Menzies School of Medicine, Charles Darwin University, Blue 1 Building, Ellengowan Drive, Brinkin, NT, Australia 0810, Australia

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© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of CDU Menzies School of Medicine, Charles Darwin University, Blue 1 Building, Ellengowan Drive, Brinkin, NT, Australia 0810, Australia; Tel: +61 410891068; E-mail:



Australian undergraduate nursing courses and their student profiles vary greatly, and so does the class’s cultural and racial diversity. Student nurses will bring their own cultural identity, values, and opinions with them to class, both online and face-to-face. For the educator, there are many deliberations around being culturally considerate with such diverse groups, particularly when ethically centered topics can make cultural considerations challenging. This can contest both the students’ and educators’ beliefs and customs and may cause personal discomfort in some form. The purpose here is to explore the discomfort and potential issues the educator may face in delivering and managing such education forums.


This project uses an autoethnography narrative methodology with the implementation and analysis of a reflective journal and incorporates theories inclusive of the Pedagogy of Discomfort, Theory of Deontology, and Critical Resistance Pathways.


The resulting journal spanned 3 months of the educators’ reflections on cultural interactions across a multicultural public health class of 290 students and from interactions with health and academic peers. Analysis of the entries found indications that a person’s cultural norms tended to form the core basis of responses and attitudes to culturally confronting topics, different perspectives from students and academics in health can lead to discomfort on discussion of ethically confronting topics, and racism was not always rebutted or acknowledged.


Practical implications for working safely across cultures have been presented with six core areas identified for tertiary education sectors and nursing educators to consider. These areas are focused on improving the educators’ ability to address culturally conflicting situations during education delivery, navigating course/unit content, and reflecting on their own cultural beliefs and norms and those of their students and peers.

Keywords: Autoethnography, Multicultural, Educators, Ethics, Nursing students, Tertiary health education sector.