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Nursing practice is guided by a set of code of ethics which constitutes an essential part of the profession. For a long time now, nursing practice has integrated the concern for the welfare of patients and the vulnerable population as well as for social justice. From a functional perspective, nurses work towards the normalization of those elements that detract from health. Not only are the nursing career prospects obliged to abide by the moral and ethical standard of nursing profession, but also to embrace them as a critical aspect of the health care profession.
Goals of the nursing code of ethics
- To serves as concise reminder of the ethical duties and commitment of all the persons who choose the nursing career.
- To outline the nursing profession’s invariable ethical standards.
- To highlight the professional’s own awareness of its obligation to the community.
In the code of ethics, the term practice has been used to signify the various functions of the nurse in whatever position he or she assumes, such as immediate patient care provider, policy developer, researcher, administrator, educator among other. Therefore, the principles and commitment outlined in this code of ethics fits all the nursing positions and context (Lubkin & Larsen, 2006).
The nurses in all the aforementioned positions and context, performs with respect and compassion for the innate distinctness, worth, and dignity of each person, without any regard for his or her social or financial status, personal characteristics, or the nature of the health issue. Thus the ethical obligations of nursing practice can be summarized under the following principles (Lubkin & Larsen, 2006):
- Respect for human dignity: – represents a fundamental principle that drives the general nursing practice. This pertains to regard for human rights, self-esteem, and value of all people, including the client, colleagues, physician, and the general public. Nurses have been taught to take into consideration the demands and morals of every person in all professional liaisons (Lubkin & Larsen, 2006).
- Interaction with patients: – the nurse must develop a relationship in their provision of nursing services, taking into account respect for human requirements and standards, with no bias. Nurses, while planning a patient’s health care, must take into account an individual’s lifestyle, religious orientation, and value system. This consideration reflects the respects for the patient personality, as opposed to condoning or agreement with specific individual preferences.
- The characteristics of health condition: – the nurse expresses respect for privileges, dignity, and worth of each human being regardless of the characteristics of the health condition. This principle upholds that the approach fo any patient’s provision should not be influenced by the nature of the disease or injury, propensity for death, or functional potential. This perception extends to those who need the services of the nurse for improving health, prognosis, normalization of health, relief of suffering, as well as provision of compassionate care to the terminally ill individuals.
- The right to freewill: – regard for human dignity concerns the identification of certain patient’s privileges, especially, the right of freewill. Freewill or autonomy forms the philosophical basis with regard of informed consent in all medical care contexts. Patients are morally and lawfully entitled to involvement in the determination of the process that will be followed including; (a) right to accurate, comprehensive, and understandable instructions in a way that allows an informed decision; (b) to be helped with evaluating the benefits, challenges, and alternatives in their management, as well as the option of no treatment; (c) to allow, refuse, or cease treatment devoid of falsehood, undue persuasion or penalty; and (d) to be afforded considerable support in the entire decision-making and management procedure. The patient should be allowed to consult with family and other crucial persons in regard of decision making under the support and guidance of competent nurses and other health specialists. Noteworthy, patient should be allowed to participate in determining their health care extent possible and willing to participate.
- Association with peers and others: – respect for persons applies to every individual with the work context of the nurse. The nurse upholds a compassionate and caring attitude when interacting with peer and others with dedication to unbiased treatment of patient, to conflict resolution, and to integrity-preserving conciliation. This concept should be observed in all the possible nursing positions, such as direct care provider, consultant, educator, researcher, and administrator. This standards of conduct disqualify any biased action, any harassment or intimidating behavior, or disregard for the repercussion of own conduct on other people. The nurse acknowledges the unique role of different person or teams, and collaborates to achieve the common objective of availing quality health care services.
All nurses are responsible for creating, sustaining, and contributing to a practice environment that upholds nurses in observing their ethical obligations. A practice background typically involves physical attributes, including the working condition, and inscribed policies and protocols outlining the prospects for nurses, and less tangible attributes like informal peer standards.
Organizational framework, function description, safety and health strategies, grievance procedure, penalty procedures, compensation system, and ethics committee, collectively contribute to the working context that impedes or enhance professional accomplishment and ethical practice.
Settings within which staff are afforded unbiased hearing of grievances, are facilitated based on the level of care, and are fairly handled to allow the accomplishment of the principles of the nursing profession that are in alignment with a proper nursing practice (Oermann & Henrich, 2005).
The ethical code focuses largely on health care practice, although level of practice is dependent on availability of resources. Because of this relation, an ethical code concurrent to the nursing code of ethic should be designed, so that nurses are in a position meet their ethical obligations.
American Nurses Association. (2001). Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. New York: The American Nurses Association Inc.
Lubkin, I. M., & Larsen, P. D. (2006). Chronic illness: impact and interventions. London: Sage.
Oermann, M. H., & Heinrich, K. T. (2005). Annual review of nursing education: strategies for teaching. Stamford, Mass: Cengage Learning.