William A. Nelson, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, of Community & Family Medicine and of The Dartmouth Institute

William A. Nelson, PhD



(603) 646-6545


  • PhD, The Union Institute and University1976
  • MDiv, Andover Newton Theological School, 1970
  • B.A., Elmhurst College, 1968

Curriculum Vitae

WIlliam A. Nelson, PhD


Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice

Areas of Expertise

Healthcare Ethics

Short Bio

William Nelson is director of the Rural Ethics Initiatives at Dartmouth, where he is also an associate professor of psychiatry, and community and family medicine.

From 1991 to 2003, he was chief of the Ethics Education Service for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Ethics in Health Care, which he co-founded. From 1979-1990 he was the Chief, Chaplain Service at the White River Junction, VT VA Medical Center. From 1986-1989, he was a W.K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellow studying United States and international health care policy.

Dr. Nelson is the principal investigator of several federal- and state-funded research studies fostering an evidence-based approach to ethics and the linkage between ethics and quality care. He also co-edited Managing Ethically: An Executive’s Guide and is a regular contributor to Healthcare Executive.


1984 United States Congressional Excalibur Award for Public Service
2003 Ethics Leadership Award, National Black Chaplains Association
2004 William A. Nelson Award for Excellence in Health Care Ethics, Department of Veterans Affairs
2004 Exemplary Service Award, Department of Veterans Affairs
2011 Catholic Press Award, category. Best Coverage of Health Care for an article, “Health Care Ethics and Rural Life”
2011 Presidential Citation Award, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

Published Research

Necessary Competencies for Ethics Committees
Healthcare Executive, 2013;28(4): 46-48 The Ethics of Avoiding Nonbeneficial Healthcare
Healthcare Executive, Nov/Dec 2012;
Editorial: Broadening Implementation of a Preventive Ethics Approach
The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, March 2012;Vol. 38, No. 3: 99-102 Preventing ethics conflicts and improving healthcare quality through system redesign
Quality & Safety in Health Care, 2010; 19:526-530doi:10.1136/qshc.2009.038943