Nursing is a rewarding, exciting and sometimes challenging career. Nursing is not limited to simply changing bandages, giving shots and offering of support. In fact, the role of a nurse is ‘protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering thought the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in care of individuals, families, communities, and populations’ (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2010, p. 1).
Sometimes, having a passion to serve others just isn’t enough to make it in nursing. In order to be an effective caregiver to a patient, the nurse must treat the patient as a whole. This means building trust between the patient and the nurse, therefore, promoting healing and a sense of peace. A nurse does this by following a code of ethics. Ethics gives the nurse a framework for making ‘logical and consistent decisions’ (Burhardt & Nathaniel, 2008, p. 29). Although, ethics offers a guideline, it does not tell us what we should do; nurses must decide that on an individual basis.
Ethics is having the ability to make wrong or right decisions based on our own morals. Morals and values are fundamental beliefs that are acquired from childhood throughout adulthood. Everyone is shaped according to their own spiritual, cultural and individual values that were instilled at a young age. These values and morals are the things that help nurses make ethical decisions, therefore it is critical that we evaluate our own values and morals. Because we, as nurses, are asked to question our own values and morals it is important to examine where we stand in our own spirituality.
Thus, it is important to know thyself. Socrates believed that if you do not know yourself, or seek to know yourself, then you know nothing. Knowing where you stand on a lot of ‘hot topics’ makes it easier to stand behind your patient on their decision and therefore, you are able to be supportive of these decisions. Ethics is an area that challenges me on a daily basis.
There is two important theories that are important to nursing: utilitarianism and deontology. Utilitarianism ‘is the moral theory that holds that an action is judged as good or bad in relation to the consequence, outcome, or end result that is derived from’ (Burhardt & Nathaniel, 2008, p. 33). Utilitarianism uses the thought of the greatest good for the largest number of people. Utilitarianism is a helpful theory in situations when you feel the rights of the patient are being ignored.
Whereas, the deontological theory states ‘no action can be judged as right which cannot reasonably become a strict law’ (Burhardt & Nathaniel, 2008, p. 39). Although these processes have both advantages and disadvantages, I would tend to use a more situational approach. I believe that having a situational approach favors autonomy of the patient. Using this approach, I feel that I can help the patient make an informed individual decision regarding their healthcare, whether it be based on religious beliefs, personal reasons or simply that it is in their best interest.
Working in an area of maternal/fetal cardiology, it can be difficult at times to separate my own believes to that of which is the best outcome for both mother and baby. It seems that almost on a weekly basis the cardiologist is handing down a diagnosis that leaves the family to ponder the decision of ‘do we have what it takes to handle a very sick, complicated child?’ Sometimes these parents are faced with the reality of do they continue along the path of pregnancy or do they stop where they are, and try again in the future.
It is a reality that unfortunately many families are left with, as sometimes the babies are given a very grave outcome. It is a very true fact in my own heart that God only deals you the deck that you are able to handle, but when faced with the financial uncertainty, and the uncertainty of the child’s future, sometimes very difficult decisions need to be made. As their nurse it is my responsibility to back the physician with aiding the family in seeing all their options regardless if they fit into my own values.
Being able to step back and provide unbiased care to my families is a small part of what my nursing is all about. Being able to do so helps to build a strong relationship between myself and my patients. Along with following an ethical framework in nursing, one must follow a scope of practice. Such guidelines shape the responsibility of the professional nursing organization and serve to protect the public.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) helps to paint the picture of how the nurse should practice, whereas the Ohio Board of Nursing (OBN) sets the limits of practice that the nurse must work within, serving to protect not only the public but the nurse herself. As a nurse, I strive to be both clinically competent in my delivery of care, being aware of the constant challenges and educationally competent. I try to set aside time to attend a weekly grand rounds meeting, where additional education is provided. This allows me to stay current and up to date on effective treatment options, new medications, research findings and team collaboration for optimal patient outcomes.
In addition, completing required competencies, I am a member of the Society of Pediatric Cardiovascular Nurses (SPCN) which also strengthens my knowledge and skill in providing the best evidence based practice to my patients and their families. Attending meetings and conferences also helps to build my level of education and knowledge base.
Education is critical in the nursing profession, being a lifelong learner is important to keep up with the ebb and flow of nursing practice. ‘Lifelong learning is an essential ingredient for ensuring high quality of patient care’ (Gopee, 2002, p. 608). If you were to trace nursing back to the original roots we continue to provide the most basic of needs to our patients; this is knowing that someone cares for them (Vance). I feel that I provide a level of compassionate care to my patients and their families. I understand that their needs will change depending on their health as well as their environment.
My greatest joy comes from helping the patients effectively respond to their health care needs regardless of which stage of life they may most currently be in. In my opinion, the main focus of nursing, comes down to respecting, guiding, providing information, to clients who is the past had the perception of nurses as simply being the people who provided medications, and treatments. The future is bright in the nursing field as we stride for a respectful place as a profession in the health care system. References
American Nurses Association. (2010). Scope of Nursing Practice. In Nursing (2nd ed., pp. 1-30). Silver Spring, Maryland: Nursebooks. Burhardt, M. A., & Nathaniel, A. K. (2008). Ethics & issues (3rd ed.). Canada: Delmar learning. Gopee, N. (2002, December).
Human and social capital as facilitators of lifelong learning in nursing. Nurse Education Today, 22, 608-616. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0260-6917(02)00139-9 Vance, T. Caring and the Professional Practice of Nursing. Journal of Nursing. Retrieved from http://rnjournal.com/journal-of-nursing/caring-and-the-professional-practice-of-nursing