A nurse is trusted, but the nurse is also human. That's why the nurse must be able to promptly and fully self-disclose facts, circumstances, events, errors, and omissions when such disclosure could enhance the health status of clients or the public or could protect clients or the public from unnecessary risk of harm.
Nurses have a duty to the client - that's the highest level of responsibility. Employers, other health care providers, and the nurse's interests do not outweigh this especially important responsibility. Nurses must be aware of their actions and feelings within the therapeutic relationship, identify the invisible boundaries, and act in the client's best interest.
Nursing is a position of power. We must practice nursing in an autonomous role with clients, their families, significant others, and public members during challenging times in their lives. Nurses can take advantage of vulnerable people, and we have to arm ourselves against any abuse of trust.
A nurse has a vital role in maintaining professional boundaries and must know, recognize, and maintain the professional boundaries of the nurse-client relationship. Violating professional boundaries of the nurse-client relationship includes but is not limited to physical, sexual, emotional, or financial exploitation of the client or the client's significant other.
Table 2: Ethical Principles Affecting Nursing Practice
- the right to make an informed decision
- the right to determine a course
- one ought to do or promote good
- positive benefits are what the health care providers are obligated to seek
- act for the good of the individual
- equal access
- equal, equitable distribution
- a fair share of resources
- wide range in theories of fairness and veracity
- the duty of a nurse to tell the truth
- the duty of the nurse to tell the truth
- doing one's duty
- keeping one's word
Morality is social conventions about right and wrong agreed upon amongst the population. Values include your beliefs, likes, dislikes, and preferences. Personal values are educational background, life experience, cultural beliefs, family beliefs, and religious beliefs. Different people have different values. Different cultures have different values, and values are different even within cultures. Values change over time and in different situations.
Personal ethics and values differ from professional ethics and values. Your ethics and values affect your practice. Value and ethical conflict occur if you fail to recognize that values and beliefs are different for individuals of different cultures and within a culture.
Sources of professional values:
- professional organizations
- state nurse practice act