Professional nursing aims to protect and promote health at both individual and community levels, prevent diseases, and alleviate a wide range of adverse symptoms causing suffering in patients and their close ones. To provide high-quality care and act with integrity, every nurse’s practice should comprise a few necessary components. They include technical and interpersonal competence obtained through education, certificates and licenses defining the scope of practice, and comprehensive knowledge of ethical codes, such as the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses, regulating one’s behavior at the workplace. These three components are interdependent and together contribute to the nurse’s ability to perform ethically.
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However, considering that nurses face the need of engaging in decision making in order to resolve morally ambiguous situations on a regular basis, profound understanding and integration of ethical standards and principles into daily work-related activities is a must.
Throughout my academic work, I have become acquainted with a number of ethical issues a nurse may encounter during work. Some of them (for instance, patient’s autonomy, and obtainment of informed consent) are daily, while others, such as end-of-life decision making, may be less frequent, depending on one’s specialization. It is worth noticing that the effectiveness of ethical decision making is based on both external and individual factors.
According to Nora et al. (2016), external factors are related to organizational characteristics including the level of the nurse’s autonomy. At the same time, the internal/individual factors affecting ethical behavior and decision making of nurses are the level of confidence and ethical sensitivity (Nora et al., 2016). The participation in the RN-BSN program has definitely helped me increase the degree of my ethical sensitivity: along with developing awareness of the technical and science-based side of care, I started to think more about patients’ expectations, which I, as a professional nurse, should aim to fulfill. It is clear that individuals’ psycho-emotional needs must be equally addressed during nurse-patient interactions as the physiological ones.
Therefore, it is pivotal to respect human dignity and multicultural differences in every person and translate this respect into accountable behaviors. This value-based approach can contribute to a significant increase in the efficacy of my ethical decision making in my future nursing career.
The evolved understanding of nursing ethics during my academic work indicates that I am sufficiently successful in meeting Essential VIII: Professionalism and Professional Values. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008) suggests that the values of altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity, and social justice must guide every nurse in the process of patient care. The given values are consistent with standards provided in the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses and many other credible sources related to the subject, which I reviewed while studying.
It is important to note that the learning about various aspects of nursing ethics made me actively reflect about my personal views on multiple bioethical dilemmas, identify and adopt some new values that I will be able to implement in the future. Overall, this academic practice encouraged me to develop a tangible foundation of personal and professional orienteers for becoming the professional I would like to be after graduation.
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The present reflection assignment helped me summarize the achieved results on the way towards increasing my ethical sensitivity. It encouraged me to continue growing in the given area and eliminate possible barriers to professional integrity. In conclusion, I would like to note that the orientation towards Essential VIII: Professionalism and Professional Values helps all nursing students to think about the ways of implementing major ethical principles such as beneficence and nonmaleficence into their professional behaviors and cultivate a value-based approach to practice in order to benefit both self and others in the future career.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2008). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Web.
Nora, C.L. D., Deodato, S., Vieira, M. M. S., & Zoboli, E. L. C. P. (2016). Elements and strategies for ethical decision-making in nursing. Texto & Contexto − Enfermagem, 25(2), e4500014.