One of the most contentious issues in nursing is balancing nursing ethics with personal values and beliefs. Often these two concepts cause moral dilemmas, especially when the nursing ethics and personal values clash during caregiving. I have found myself caught in between maintaining my personal values and beliefs and adhering to nursing ethics and values. The difference between personal values and professional values (ethics) is that personal values are obtained from the society we live in or the cultural upbringing (Al-Banna, 2017). The personal values are what makes us be associated with certain cultures from where we embrace certain belief systems that may be different from other people.
Personal beliefs and values sometimes may affect our ability to give quality services to patients. For example, religion plays an important part in our personal beliefs, and it shapes how we view life. We may have different beliefs that may hinder us from determining what right or wrong, thereby affecting our ability to provide quality care to patients. Additionally, personal values in nursing can also mean the attitudes of nurses towards their colleagues and patients. These attitudes affect the way a nurse offers care to patients, thereby influencing the patients’ outcomes. Nurses are required to be compassionate towards patients and to connect with them to develop an understanding that can help in improving the quality of services offered to them. However, if a nurse has a bad attitude towards patients, then the probability of offering poor qualities is high. For example, a nurse’s attitude may make a patient open up or fail to disclose vital information that may help in the treatment process. It is all based on the personal approach that a nurse uses in addressing a patient. If the patient senses that the nurse is rude, he /she may hold back information. At the same time, if the patients sense a friendly interaction with a nurse, he/she may open up and disclose information that may help in improving their health outcome. These are just some examples of how personal values and beliefs can influence nursing practice.
On the contrary, professional values and nursing ethics refer to the values of nursing that each nurse is required to uphold whenever they are attending to patients within the hospital. The nursing ethics are passed down to nurses through training and socialization with other professionals within the fraternity of care. As such, these values are uniform in every healthcare setting because, without them, the hospitals will not operate effectively. Nursing ethics are contained in the nursing code of ethics, which is used as the guiding principle for nursing practice (McDermott-Levy, Leffers, and Mayaka, 2018). The nursing ethics of practice allows nurses to maintain professionalism whenever dealing with patients, thereby enhancing patients’ outcomes. Moreover, nursing ethics and values allow nurses to maintain competencies when dealing with different scenarios of care.
Additionally, nursing ethics contain the regulatory requirements that nurses must uphold at all times. These regulations outline the responsibilities of nurses and how they can carry out these responsibilities without breaking the ethical values and standards of nursing. The main ethical principles of nursing include beneficence, autonomy, justice, confidentiality, and non-maleficence, among others. These professional values guide nurses at all times, thereby aiding their ability to make decisions when faced with tough situations. For example, the nursing ethical values demand that nurses should respect the principle of autonomy when dealing with patients. The principle of autonomy allows patients to accept or reject treatment as they deem necessary without being forced by nurses and other physicians. Moreover, nurses are required to treat patients and maintain their privacy and confidentiality. Disclosing patient information is a breach of the professional code of ethics. Therefore, professional values regulate the practice of nursing by ensuring that nurses follow the rules and regulations when dealing with patients.
Nursing practice and values and beliefs are not meant to be separate. One needs to follow specific values to ensure that they are able to offer the best care. However, in some cases, the ethics of the practice may not match personal beliefs. In such cases, one needs to put aside their beliefs and values and follow the ethics of the practice. The ethics of the practice are the judge of what one does and they determine whether the nurse acted in the right way or not. While there are general nursing practice ethics, it is also important to follow facility ethics as they are equally important in the practice (Pickles, Lacey & King, 2019). For example, the Catholic Church has its set of ethics that their facilities and nurses are expected to follow.
The first step in separating values and beliefs from the ethics of the practice is to understand the ethical code in the nursing practice. The ethical code is one of the most important documents and set of laws in the nursing practice. Every aspiring and practicing nurse needs to understand the nursing ethical code clearly. The ethical code is the set of laws that the nurse is judged using (Markey, Tilki & Taylor, 2018). It is the constitution to be followed and when there is an incident, the disciplinary committees use the ethical code to establish whether the nurse acted in an appropriate way. Therefore, understanding the laws in the ethical code is important. The ethical code explains that a nurse must follow the four principles including autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.
The next step after understanding the ethical code in the nursing practice, one needs to explore their values and belief. During these evaluations, one will identify the values and beliefs that collide with the ethical code. The values and beliefs that collide with the ethical code and other rules in the practice will need to be eliminated and not taken to account during the practice. Through using beliefs and values that are against the ethics of the practice, the nurse will put themselves at risk of making decisions that are against the nursing practice (Pickles, Lacey & King, 2019). In such cases, the nurse may even lose their nursing license. After a comparison of values and ethical code, one can try and identify cases where the conflict between values and ethics may arise. Having prior knowledge of instances where the conflict may arise will play an important role in eliminating issues that may arise from this issue.
An important example in the nursing practice is that of physician-assisted suicide in Catholic care facilities. Catholic care facilities do not support the use of physician-assisted suicide. While one may believe that the patient has suffered enough and is respecting the wishes of a patient to end the life of a patient, it is against the ethics of the facility (Markey, Tilki & Taylor, 2018). Even in cases where the nurse believes that they are doing the best for the patient or acting in the interest of the patient, they need to examine the ethical code to ensure they make the right decisions. It is important to note that the ethics of the practice are more important than personal beliefs and values in the practice.