Most people enter the nursing profession with a sincere desire to help people and contribute to their well-being. However, the obstacles to providing appropriate treatment are common in health care and often cause distress and burnout among medical workers. In such conditions, it is necessary for nurses to be able to maintain professional boundaries and not to rely on patients in fulfilling their natural emotional needs. Therefore, constant discussion of the features of professional behavior is required to develop needed awareness, which leads to a better quality of provided medical services, healthier work atmosphere, and, ultimately, improved well-being of medical professionals.
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The nature of a nurse-patient relationship involves various emotional aspects. Patients see medical workers as benevolent people providing crucial help when they are in their most vulnerable states. Such perception can impose an unnecessary burden on nurses’ intrinsic intention to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. When nurses feel powerless to influence change, they can become less sensitive to the ethical side of the practice and even fail to address it (Grace, 2017). In this case, professional boundaries between nurses and patients could be crossed or violated.
Organizational procedures aimed at developing ethical competencies of medical workers should be thoroughly implemented. One of the core competencies defined in The ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretative Statement relates to the development of mindfulness, which is important for the establishment of proper communication standards in nursing practice (Butts & Rich, 2019). Medical workers such as nurses and physicians “need mindfulness on a minute-by-minute basis for providing safe and competent care” (Butts & Rich, 2019, p. 76). Exercising mindfulness allows nurses to be aware of the influence of their emotions, prejudices, and fears on decision-making and the outcomes of patient treatment. It also supports their ability to notice the blurring of professional boundaries in medical settings.
Adherence to ethical standards of professional behavior is essential for providing safe patient care. The development of mindfulness and awareness could be fostered by constant discussions included in various organizational activities in the workplace. Therefore, nurses can receive necessary support for maintaining professional boundaries and increasing the level of competence, which, in its turn, can positively influence the quality of health care in medical facilities.
Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2019). Nursing ethics: Across the curriculum and into practice (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Grace, P. J. (Ed.) (2017). Nursing ethics and professional responsibility in advanced practice (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.