The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) has selected School of Nursing professor Beth Epstein for its 2020 Grenvik Family Award for Ethics, which recognizes an SCCM member’s efforts to address significant ethical problems in critical care and promotes humanistic values.
A nurse since 1994, Epstein has taught ethics and pharmacology to legions of UVA Nursing and Medicine students since her 2004 appointment. After earning tenure, she became a core member of the UVA’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities and chair of the School's Acute and Specialty Care Department in 2015. The arc of her career, however, has been informed by both her profound personal and professional experiences in the neonatal intensive care unit – a place known for evoking great stress and compelling complicated ethical decision-making for families and clinicians alike.
Part of a team that was lauded by the Americans Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet designation team in 2016 for developing and evaluating a health system-wide intervention for moral distress among nurses and physicians, Epstein has for the last decade conducted important and varied ethics-focused research proejcts: from the development of a novel high-tech intervention connecting distant NICU parents with their infants and caregivers to creating new courses to fortify the interprofessional learning of nursing and medical students, from examining violence’s impact on the NICU experience to end-of-life experiences among parents and nurses in the NICU, Beth’s work is both wide-ranging and hyper-focused on ethics, moral distress, palliative care, and the science of interprofessional collaboration.
Widely published in well-respected journals, Epstein has been tapped more than 50 times since 2007 to deliver presentations to national and international audiences and conferences on end-of-life care, nursing ethics, moral distress and its remedies, and presented more than a dozen posters on the topic.
The author of a half-dozen book chapters and more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications, Epstein also remains steeped in the field, reviewing manuscripts for the Journal of Gynecologic, Obstetric and Neonatal Nursing, Pediatrics, The American Journal of Bioethics, The American Journal of Bioethics Primary Research, HEC Forum, The Journal of Clinical Ethics. She’s been associate editor of the journal BMC Medical Ethics since 2018, and was elected to the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities’ board of directors in fall 2017.
Inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2017, recipient of UVA School of Nursing’s Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014, a John Casteen Fellow in Ethics in 2012, and remarkably well-published, Epstein is also beloved by students, fellow clinicians, faculty, and staff alike. She’s mentored 30 students – from serving as PhD committee chair, committee member, as advisor and mentor to undergraduates in UVA Nursing’s Distinguished Majors Program – over the last decade.