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Civil and Ethical Work Environments for Nurses


Professionalism in the activities of nurses-leaders is the key to success not only in the work of nursing services but also in the entire health care system. The examples of successful practice in this area indicate a high ability of employees to take a leadership position both regarding everyday workflow and conflict situations. However, the duties of an experienced leader include not only the capacity to monitor the work of subordinates but also to control compliance with ethical standards. Some conflict situations that lead to the violation of microclimate in the team and negatively affect the work occur in the workplace quite often. Therefore, the central ethical principle of nursing is respect for life, dignity, and rights of patients.

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Civility in Nursing Practice

The moral qualities of nurses have always been not less essential than the practical skills necessary for their professional activity. A disease, especially is a chronic malady, is a severe mental trauma for many people. It leads not only to deterioration of physical condition and well-being but also to serious changes in the emotional sphere. A patient who entrusts his or her health to a nurse wants to get efficient and qualified assistance, which includes decency, charity, and responsiveness, as soon as possible. Therefore, society has always made high demands on the moral qualities of the nursing staff.

A nurse assumes certain moral obligations towards patients, communities, and colleagues. According to Johnson (2017), civility in communication is an indispensable condition for the person of such a profession. Correct behavior that corresponds to all ethical norms can help to establish good professional relations and to gain recognition. If it is about leadership, ethics, perhaps, plays an even greater role. It is important not only to conform to the image of a competent nurse but also to be a personal example for colleagues, which requires quite a lot of responsibility.

Importance of Leadership and Accountability

Management in the working environment of nurses is of particular significance since the quality of a particular department depends on the proper organization of the entire process of the activity. Regardless of the specifics of a medical institution, it is important to create a favorable working environment and to achieve mutual understanding among colleagues. An effective leader is an employee who can rally the team and make sure that there are no conflict situations or misunderstandings during the work (Clark, 2017). A competent leadership position contributes to the maintenance of civil and ethnic work environments and improves the efficiency of the team.

Accountability is another important criterion for a successful job in nursing. It is known that the order can be achieved if all employees fulfill their duties and do not shy away from immediate tasks that managers entrust with them. As Clark (2017) notes, the scope of nurses’ responsibilities also includes working with documentation, which requires professional training and knowledge of such work. As a rule, if people have sufficient competence to perform their duties, the leaders of teams do not have to monitor their colleagues regularly. Well-coordinated work, however, is one of the proofs of the successful activity of a manager.

Relationship of Incivility and Ethics in the Workplace

The concepts of incivility and ethics in the workplace are incompatible, especially when it comes to nursing. The duty and tasks of a nurse are to help patients with a variety of ailments. A professional worker of this sphere uses those skills that are correct in the conditions of rendering assistance: politeness, correctness, care, etc. If nurses neglect the performance of their immediate duties and violate the norms of behavior and morals, it inevitably affects not only their reputation but also the reputation of the whole medical institution. An experienced leader should ensure that all employees conduct their activities concerning ethical standards imposed on them. Otherwise, the competence of a nurse is questioned.

Rather difficult working conditions and heavy stress affect the morale of nurses (Lim & Bernstein, 2014). Sometimes, it leads to nervous breakdowns and quarrels in a team. However, none of the reasons are objective when it comes to helping patients. The profession of nursing involves resistance to psychological pressure and altruism. Consequently, impolite employees can not be considered professionals, and non-observance of ethics is a rather good reason for management to consider the issue of dismissal of such nurses.

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Leadership Methods to Prevent Unethical Behavior

The successful activity of leaders in nursing proves the high level of competence of the management apparatus. Sometimes, various cases of unethical or unprofessional behavior occur among employees. It is possible to use several techniques that can help to establish a workflow and avoid potential conflicts. There are quite a lot of methods, the fundamental basis of which is psychological training and an individual approach to each employee.

One of these methods is a diagnostic questionnaire that helps to make a general picture of the situation and analyze the data. As a rule, questions about employees’ satisfaction with the work process, as well as possible problems that they face is the basis of such research. As Johnson (2017) claims, professional leaders do not ignore the answers of their colleagues. In the case of unfavorable trends, they will do everything possible to prevent violations of the norms of behavior in the future.

Another technique is the participation of staff in specialized psychological training. According to Lim and Bernstein (2014), if employees with pronounced inclinations to nervous breakdowns or conflicts attend such activities regularly, their morale will stabilize, and it will become easier for them to adapt to the work environment. It is not enough just to allow a person to attend such courses; it is important to convey their importance and to make it clear that such help will have a positive impact on the whole team.

Professional Code of Ethics and Its Benefits

A professional code of ethics provides clear moral guidelines for the activities of nurses. This set of rules contains the most important aspects of health workers’ practice and identifies key spheres that need to be developed and adhered to (Clark, 2017). It has many points that determine the optimal behavior of nurses, their appearance, attitude towards patients, etc. If leaders of collectives urge their colleagues to follow the rules of this document, it means that they care about the prestige of their medical institution. There is almost everything in the code a junior medical professional should know for the professional performance of their duties. This document stimulates a civil and ethical working environment and helps improve the microclimate in a particular team.

Thus, it is evident that the primary moral principle of nursing is respect for life, dignity, and rights of patients, as well as following all the rules of professional behavior and ethics. The task of an experienced leader is to monitor the work of his or her colleagues and provide a friendly atmosphere in the team. The violation of the norms of behavior with patients and other medical staff is rather a serious reason to doubt the professionalism of a nurse.


Clark, C. (2017). Creating & sustaining civility in nursing education (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International.

Johnson, C. E. (2017). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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Lim, F. A., & Bernstein, I. (2014). Civility and workplace bullying: Resonance of nightingale’s persona and current best practices. Nursing Forum, 49(2), 124-129.

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