Research: Joan Liaschenko, PhD, RN, HCEC-C, FAAN

Joan Liaschenko, PhD, RN, HEC-C, FAAN

Expertise: Nursing Ethics | Home Care Services | Patient Advocacy | Terminal Care | Health Care Delivery 

Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Joan Liaschenko’s research has focused on understanding the ethical concerns embedded in clinical practice, most commonly: the issues nurses define as ethical problems, how they articulate them, and how they solve them. Her research has included exploring the ethical challenges of critical care technologies for nurses and other providers and for nurses working with the electronic health record.  

Dr. Liaschenko uses feminist ethics, narrative theory, and qualitative methods to study and theorize the moral concerns nurses experience in their work, whether that be in home care, in-patient psychiatry, ICUs, and  nurses who run biomedical clinical trials. Liaschenko has worked with a goal of providing a moral language for nurses to articulate their moral concerns, nurture and sustain their moral agency and avoid moral distress with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. 

Dr. Liaschenko is currently working on a project with Dr. Jennifer Needle on the role of advanced care planning in adolescents and young adults undergoing bone marrow transplantation. She is concurrently working with Center Affiliate faculty member Dr. Hans-Peter deRuiter on the moral concerns of nurses related to the electronic health record. 

Dr. Liaschenko serves as Co-chair of the University of Minnesota Medical Center Ethics Committee and Director of the Clinical Ethics Consultation Service.  She is a member of the American Academy of Nursing and serves on its bioethics expert panel. Dr. Liaschenko has played an important role in education in the Center through teaching and, especially, mentoring and advising numerous students in the MA program. 

Dr. Liaschenko graduated from Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia. She obtained a BS from Hahnemann University, an MA from Bryn Mawr College, an MS, PhD, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. She joined the University of Minnesota Faculty in January of 2001. Most recently, Dr. Liaschenko was among the first cohort of experts to be certified as a Health Care Ethics Consultant by the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. 

Selected Publications

Selected Publications


  • Vawter D, Garrett JE, Gervais K., Prehen A., DeBruin D., Tauer C., Parilla E., Liaschenko J., Marshall MF, (2010). For the Good of Us All: Ethically Rationing Health Resources in Minnesota in a Severe Influenza Pandemic. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Department of Health.
  • DeBruin D, Parilla E, Liaschenko J, Marshall MF, Leider JP, Brunnquell D, Garrett JE, Gervais K, Vawter D, Prehn A. (2010). Implementing Ethical Frameworks for Rationing Scarce Health Resources in Minnesota During Severe Influenza Pandemic. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Department of Health.


  • Needle, J., Liaschenko, J., Peden-McAlpine, C., Boss, R. (2019). Stopping the Momentum of Clinical Cascades in the PICU: Intentional responses to the limits of medicine. Journal of Palliative Care, 20(10), 1-5. DOI: 10.1177/0825859719851487
  • Scheiner, N., Liaschenko, J. (2018) “Buying-in” and “cashing-out”: patients' experience and the refusal of life-prolonging treatment. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 29(1), 15-19..
  • Liaschenko, J. and Freitag, L. (2018) Neonatal acrania and organ donation: Whose story is this? Critical Connections, (December/January), p. 12.
  • Freitag, L., Liaschenko, J. (2017). Holding Ashley (X): Bestowing identity through caregiving in profound intellectual disability. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 28(3), 189-96.
  • Liaschenko, J., Peter, E. (2016). Fostering Nurses' Moral Agency and Moral Identity: The Importance of Moral Community. Hastings Center Report, 46(5), S18-S21, 2-5.
  • Peter, E., Simmonds, A., & Liaschenko, J. (2016). Nurses’ narratives of moral identity Making a difference and reciprocal holding. Nursing Ethics, 0969733016648206.
  • Traudt, T., Liaschenko, J., & Peden-McAlpine, C. (2016). Moral Agency, Moral Imagination, and Moral Community: Antidotes to Moral Distress. The Journal of Clinical Ethics, 27(3), 201.
  • DeRuiter, H-P., Liaschenko, J., Angus, J. (2016). Problems with the Electronic Health Record. Nursing Philosophy, 17, 46-58. (first published online, November 2015, doi 10.1111/nup.12112
  • Peden-McAlpine, C., Liaschenko, J., Traudt, T., Gilmore-Szott, E. (2015). Constructing the Story: How Nurses Work with Families Regarding Withdrawal of Aggressive Treatment in ICU – A Narrative Study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52, 1146-1156.
  • Minkoff, H., Marshall, M. F., & Liaschenko, J. (2014). The Fetus, the “Potential Child,” and the Ethical Obligations of Obstetricians. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 123(5), 1100-1103.
  • Peter, E., & Liaschenko, J. (2013). Moral Distress Reexamined: A Feminist Interpretation of Nurses’ Identities, Relationships, and Responsibilities. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 10(3), 337-345.
  • DeBruin, D.A., Liaschenko, J., Marshall, M.F. (2012). Social justice in pandemic preparedness. American Journal of Public Health, 102(4), 586-591 doi:- 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300483.
  • deRuiter, H. and Liaschenko, J. (2011). To lift or not to lift: Journal of Occupational Health Nursing, 59(8), 337-343.
  • Rose, D., Peter, E., Gallop, R., Angus, J., & Liaschenko, J. (2011). Exploring the concept of respect in forensic psychiatric nursing: A focused ethnography. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 7(1), 3-16.
  • DeBruin, D.A., Liaschenko, J., Fisher, A. (2011). How clinical trials really work: Rethinking research ethics. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 21(2), 121-139.
  • Liaschenko, J., DeBruin, D., Marshall, MF. (2011). The Two-Patient Framework for Research During Pregnancy: A Critique and a Better Way Forward. The American Journal of Bioethics, 11(5), 66-68.
  • Liaschenko, J., Peden-McAlpine, C., and Andrews, G. (2011). Institutional Geographies in Dying: Nurses’ Actions and Observations on Dying Spaces Inside and Outside Intensive Care Units Health and Place,  17, 814-821.
  • Garrett, J.E., Vawter, D.E., Gervais, K.G., Prehn, A.W., DeBruin, D.A., Livingston, F., Morley, A.M., Liaschenko, J., Lynfield, R., (2011). The Minnesota Pandemic Ethics Project: sequenced, robust public engagement processes. Journal of Participatory Medicine, Research, 3, published online January 19.
  • DeBruin, D., Liaschenko, J., Marshall, M.F. (2010). Risky Business. Hastings Center Report, 40(4), 5-6.(letter to the editor)