Ethics in Professional Nursing Practice
1. What are some ways nurses in Canada can improve or mention ethical decision making and practice in their workplace? Do you agree with the codes of ethics regulations in the workplace?
The Canadian Nurses Association (2008a) have outlined some of the important code of ethics for Canadian registered nurses in order for these professionals to maintain commitments to their job, while at the same time making sound decisions within the field of healthcare. The code of ethics is set in place in order for professional nurses to work through the challenges and ethical issues that may face them in their careers, particularly with regards to their professional practice of nursing care provision for patients and families, and to the entire public health systems (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009).
By using the code of ethics into practice, Canadian nurses could identify and learn the importance of their nursing values and ethical responsibilities. The goals of the code of ethics are wide range, but they are specifically divided into 7 primary philosophies or values, which include provision of compassionate, competent and safe ethical care, promotion of well-being and health, promotion and respect of patient’s informed decisions, preservation of one’s dignity, maintenance of confidentiality and privacy, promotion of justice and accountability (Canadian Nurses Association, 2008b). All of these values are important for nurses to have in their work, because these will serve as their guiding principle with respect to ethical decision-making (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009). With the help of the code of ethics set forth by the Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian nurses can improve their ethical decision-making, which is very necessary for their nursing practice (Canadian Nurses Association, 2008a).
Adhering to the code of ethics is of utmost importance for nurses in the workplace. There are a lot of benefits to this. First, nurses could make legal and ethical decisions to determine the best course of action to take in a particular situation. We all know that nurses should be responsible for the ethical and legal issues of their practice, and by having a well-designed code of ethics, we could perform our duties properly and in accordance to the standards given by the Canadian Nurses Association. Second, workplace, including hospitals and public health settings, is considered as the practice environment of nurses, where they develop meaningful self-reflection and dialogue with their co-nurses, the patients and their families, as well as the other members of the healthcare team (Canadian Nurses Association, 2008b). Third, by engaging in healthy dialogues with these people, nurses could improve their ethical decision making in the workplace setting. This means that the purpose of the nursing code of ethics is for the nurses to have a quality work environment.
By implementing such regulations, there could be a more meaningful and healthy workplace for nurses and the entire healthcare team. According to the Canadian Nurses Association, the nursing code of ethics help nurses recognize the values of moral agents in care provision – this means that they have the responsibility to ethically perform their duties for persons that receive care. The code of ethics also allows nurses to reflect on their own performance for the betterment of the services they render to people, especially in terms of efficiency and effectiveness (Canadian Nurses Association, 2008b).
If in case, however, the code of ethics in a specific workplace does not actually provide a significant impact on the overall decision-making process and ethical values of the nurses, the upper management could review their guidelines to make sure that these adhere to the standards set forth by the Canadian Nurses Association. It is important to remember that these practice environments have the capability to redesign structures in order to ensure safety, respect and promote healthcare in accordance to the values of the code of ethics (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009). This is one way to help improve the ethical decision-making of the nurses in the workplace.
2. What ethical principle do you benefit from and what is the reason behind your choice?
There are different types of ethical principles that nurses usually follow in the work place. Utilitarianism is an example of nursing ethical principle that many nurses could benefit from. This principle follows the concept of providing benefits for the greatest number of people; in the case of clinical practice, these benefits include the healthcare services being provided to the patients. The main value of this theory is that the usefulness of services is usually evaluated by its main consequences or outcome (Pojman, 2010). Since we are talking about provision of care in the healthcare setting, the services we render to the patients should benefit not only one of them, but their greatest number in particular. With this, we can say that we have fully adhered to the ethical principle of utilitarianism. Of course, it is important that the focus of care – whether it is primary, secondary or tertiary – should reach the most number of patients, so we can say that we have distributed our services equally and dutifully to everyone.
A good example of utilitarianism in action is when we utilize emergency or disaster services to the most number of patients that need care (Butts & Rich, 2008). This process is known as triage and healthcare providers, including nurses, decide the wise use of resources to provide the greatest number of care to the most number of population; instead of spending the maximum number of resources to a small number of critically ill patients, who are less likely to survive in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Beauchamp, T. & Childress, S. (2009). Principles of biomedical ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Butts, J. & Rich, N. (2008). Nursing ethics across the curriculum and into practice. Sunbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett.
Canadian Nurses Association (2008a). “Code of Ethics for registered nurses.” Canadian Nurses Association. Ottawa, ON: CNA-AIIC.
Canadian Nurses Associaton (2008b). “Ethics in Practice.” Canadian Nurses Association. Ontario: CNA-AIIC.
Pojman, K. (2010). Ethical theory: Classical and contemporary readings. Florence, Kentucky: Cengage Learning.