“Clinical ethics is a really new field; it doesn’t have much research behind it yet. We have a lot to learn in how to effectively and proactively address ethical issues. One of the dangers of morally difficult situations is not having a venue or an opportunity to process them.”

UCLA Associate Professor Carol Pavlish, in collaboration with Katherine Brown-Saltzman, co-director of the UCLA Health System Ethics Center, has studied factors leading to ethical stress among oncology and ICU clinical staff, primarily in end-of-life treatment decisions. With nurse ethicists from Mayo Clinic and Massachusetts General, Dr. Pavlish and Brown-Saltzman received a grant from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses to test an Ethics Early Action Protocol, their collaborative model that aims to guide patients, family, nurses, doctors, and administrators in feeling safe and supported as they work through personal moral challenges that may rise from treatment decisions. Also interested in health and human rights, Dr. Pavlish researches gender-based violence in post-conflict settings, refugee and immigrant women's health, transcultural nursing care, and social justice and social advocacy.

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Clinical ethics, end-of-life decision making, team-based ethical advocacy, moral distress, gender-based violence, health and human rights, transcultural nursing care, social justice, social advocacy.

Faculty Research and Clinical Expertise

Research: Gender-based violence in post-conflict settings; refugee and immigrant women's health; risk of HIV infection in post-conflict settings; transcultural nursing care; social justice and social advocacy; health and human rights; narrative and community-based collaborative action research.  Additional areas of research include ethics conflict prevention, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

Clinical: Community health nursing and acute oncology nursing care.


Northern Illinois University, BS

University of Minnesota, MS

University of Minnesota, PhD

Honors and Awards


Professor Emeritus — University of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN 


Fellow — American Academy of Nursing


AJN Book of the Year Award (Research Category)


DAISY Foundation

2013 American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Excellence in Teaching Award


Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., So, L., Heers, A., & Iorillo, N. (2015). Avenues of action in ethically complex situations. Journal of Nursing Administration, 45(6), 311-318.

Pharris, M., & Pavlish, C. (2015). Community-based collaborative action research: Giving birth to emancipatory knowing. In P. Kagan, MC Smith, & PL. Chinn (Eds.). Philosophies and practices of emancipatory nursing: Social justice as praxis. New York, NY: Routledge.

Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., Dirksen, K., & Fine, A. (2015). Physicians’ perspectives on ethically challenging situations: Early identification and action. American Journal of Bioethics, 6(3), 28-40.

Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., Jakel, P., Fine, A. (2015). A culture of avoidance: Voices from inside ethically difficult situations. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 19(2), 159-165.

Pavlish, C., Henriksen Hellyer, J., Brown-Saltzman, K., Miers, A., & Squire, K. (2015). Screening Situations for Risk of Ethical Conflicts: A Pilot Study. American Journal of Critical Care, 24(3), 248-257.

Bell, P., Coates, R., Colombo, E., Dolgon, C., Hernandez, S., Marulis, M., Nyamathi, A., Pavlish, C., & Romo, H. (2015). Globalizing the classroom: Innovative approach to national and international learning. Humanity and Society. doi:10.1177/0160597615574742.

Pharris, M., & Pavlish, C. (2014). Critical reference group. In D. Coghlan & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.) Encyclopedia of action research. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K. Jakel, P., & Fine A. (2014). The nature of ethical conflicts and the meaning of moral community. Oncology Nursing Forum, 41(2), 130-140.

Pavlish, C., Henriksen Hellyer, J., Brown-Saltzman, K., Miers, A., & Squire, K. (2013). Barriers to innovation: Nurses’ risk appraisal in using a new ethics screening and early intervention tool. Advances in Nursing Science, 36(4), 304-319.

Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., Fine, A., & Jakel, P. (2013). Making the call: A proactive ethics framework. HEC Forum, 25, 269-283. doi: 10.1007/s10730-013-9213-5.

Jacob, E., Pavlish, C., Duran, J., Stinson, J., Lewis, M., & Zeltzer, L. (2013). Facilitating patient-provider communications using wireless technology in children and adolescents with sickle cell disease. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 27(4), 284-292.

Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., Jakel, P., & Rounkle, A.M. (2012). Nurses’ responses to ethical challenges in oncology practice: An ethnographic study. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 16(6), 592-600.

Pavlish, C., Ho, A., & Rounkle, A. (2012). Health and human rights advocacy: Perspectives from a Rwandan refugee camp. Nursing Ethics, 19(4), 538-549.

Kim Y, Evangelista LS, Phillips LR, Pavlish C, Kopple JD. (2012). Racial/ethnic differences in illness, perceptions in minority patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis. Nephrology Nursing, 39, 39-48.

Pavlish C, Hunt R. (2012). An exploratory study about meaningful work in acute care nursing. Nursing Forum, 47, 113-22.

Pavlish C, Brown-Saltzman K, Hersh M, Shirk M, Rounkle AM. (2011).Nursing priorities, actions, and regrets for ethical situations in clinical practice. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 43, 385-95.

Pavlish, C., & Dexheimer Pharris, M. (2011). Community-based Collaborative Action Research: A Nursing Approach. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., Hersh, M., Shirk, M., & Nudelman, O. (2011). Early indicators and risk factors for ethical issues in clinical practice. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. January, 2011.

Pavlish, C., Noor, S., & Brandt, J. (2010). Somali women and the American health care system: Discordant beliefs, divergent expectations, and silent worries. Social Science & Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.010.

Ho, A., & Pavlish, C. (2010). Indivisibility of accountability and empowerment in tackling gender-based violence: Lessons from a refugee camp in Rwanda. Journal of Refugee Studies. doi:10.1093/jrs/feq052

Pavlish, C., & Ho, A. (2009). Human rights barriers for displaced persons in Southern Sudan. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 41, 284-292.

Pavlish, C., & Ho, A. (2009). Displaced persons' perceptions of human rights in Southern Sudan. International Nursing Review,56, 416-425.

Pavlish, C., & Ceronsky, C. (2009). Oncology nurses' perceptions of nursing roles and professional attributes in palliative care. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 13, 404-412.

Pavlish, C., & Ho, A. (2009). Pathway to social justice: Research on human rights and gender-based violence in a Rwanda refugee camp. Advances in Nursing Science, 32, 144-157.

Pavlish, C. (2007). Narrative inquiry into life experiences of refugee women and men. International Nursing Review, 54, 28-34.

Pavlish, C., & Ceronsky, C. (2007). Oncology nurses' perceptions about palliative care. Oncology Nursing Forum, 34, 793-400.

Pavlish, C. (2005). Action responses in Congolese refugee women. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 37, 10-17.

Pavlish, C. (2005). Refugee women health: Collaborative inquiry with refugee women in Rwanda. Health care for Women International, 26, 880-896.