William Nelson, MDiv, PhD, is the Director, Health and Human Values Program, a Professor of Community and Family Medicine, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Department of Psychiatry at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He also is on the faculty at New York University’s Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Previously, until 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.
Dr. Nelson’s extensive teaching, publications, and research focuses on organizational, management and rural ethics. His scholarship is directed toward increasing the understanding that ethics is the central foundation for health care organizations; and, the linkage between ethics, quality, and value in the delivery of health care.
He completed his undergraduate work at Elmhurst College, received a M.Div. from Andover Newton Theological School, and a Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University, focusing on applied ethics. From 1986-1989, he was a W.K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellow studying US and international health care policy. And from 2008-9, he was a National Rural Health Association Leadership Fellow.
Dr. Nelson is the recipient of many honors and awards. He is the 1984 recipient of the United States Congressional Excalibur Award for Public Service for his efforts concerning the ethical care of the terminally ill. In 2004 he received the Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health’s highest honor, the “Exemplary Service Award.” Also in 2004, the Department of Veterans Affairs established the annual competitive “William A. Nelson Award for Excellence in Health Care Ethics” for “significant and sustained contributions to the Department through health care ethics…” In 2006 Dr. Nelson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater. In 2013 he was awarded an Honorary Fellow from the American College of Healthcare Executives for “pioneering work in organizational ethics.” Also, in 2013 he received the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice student teaching award.
The author of over 95 articles and book chapters, he has delivered hundreds of invited lectures, papers, seminars, and workshops in the US and internationally. Dr. Nelson co-edited Managing Ethically: An Executive’s Guide, 2nd ed. (2010, Health Administrative Press). And is the editor of, Handbook for Rural Health Care Ethics: a Practical Guide for Professionals (2009, University Press of New England). He is a regular contributor to Healthcare Executive’s “Healthcare Management Ethics Column.” He also serves as the ethics consultant and advisor to the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Dr. Nelson has been the Principal Investigator of several Federal, state and private funded research to foster an evidence-based approach and understanding of health care ethics.
Dr. Nelson divides his work time between Hanover, New Hampshire and New York, New York.