Basic Tenets of Nursing Ethics
The American Nurses Association created a Code of Ethics that can be summed up in a few points:
- Compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every patient.
- Primary commitment is to the patient.
- Advocacy to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.
- Responsibility and accountability for individual nursing practice to provide optimum patient care.
- Maintenance of personal integrity, safety, competence, and professional growth.
- Establishment, maintenance, and improvement of healthcare environments and conditions of employment in order to provide quality care.
- Advancement of the profession through various contributions.
- Collaboration with other healthcare professionals.
- Responsibility for articulating nursing values and maintaining the integrity of the profession and its practice
What Does This Mean?
Looking at the Code of Ethics provides a glimpse at the complexities involved in the nursing profession. More than just “First, do no harm,” nurses are responsible for a lot more than just a patient’s care. Nurses need to ensure that medical interventions offered for the treatment of a disease or other condition are compatible with the patient’s needs and wishes. Nurses also need to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and professionally; a nurse can’t provide quality care if he or she becomes grievously ill after failing to prevent exposure to a patient’s communicable disease or a needle stick. It is also built into the ethical code that nurses should try to affect social and public policy in an effort to maintain and further the profession.
As a nurse, what is your personal code of ethics? Do you feel that your colleagues and your healthcare facility are living up to the ethical standards set forth for nurses?