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Nursing Profession: The Code Of Ethics

1059 words - 5 pages

The concept of moral distress can be defined in a number of different ways. Generally speaking, when individuals make moral decisions about the right course of action in a situation but are unable to carry it out, they will experience moral distress. A man by the name of Andrew Jameton defined moral distress in 1984 as “a phenomenon that arises when one knows the right thing to do, but institutional constraints make it nearly impossible to pursue the right course of action” (Nursing Forum, 2007). Because of their particular position in the medical world and their conflicting responsibilities, nurses are especially prone to experiencing moral distress. Whether they are aware of it or not, ...view middle of the document...

According to Pamela Dickerson’s article on the impact of moral distress in nursing, the first statement in the code of ethics states that the nurse should “practice with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of each individual, unrestricted by considerations of social and economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems” (Dickerson, p. 3). While this statement is true, situations arise all the time that cause distress and takes its toll on a nurse both physically and cognitively.
One of the biggest issues regarding moral distress is the disconnect between nursing education and the real world of nursing. Nurses do not receive the adequate amount of education to deal with real life situations that may cause moral distress. Situations that can cause moral distress are those involving end-of-life care, insurance policies, and false hope given to a patient’s family. Ethics classes are required among the courses that nurses have to take, but most of these courses do not put students into real life scenarios. For example, most nurses won’t fully understand how to deal with a terminally ill patient until they are on the job for real. A patient who is on life support, who wants to pull the plug, but the family wants to hold onto hope for just a little bit longer, could potentially be the most distressful situation a nurse has to go through. Educational systems sugar coat how real life situations are perceived and until one is actually put into a situation involving morals and ethical decisions (and actually making the decisions for themselves), they will never understand the effects it can have.
The question then comes up: how do nurses identify and resolve the issue of moral distress? Does the concept of moral distress come with the territory of working in a health care facility? Should one’s moral distress just be attended to or could the effects be damaging? Many believe that nurses should just ‘suck it up’ and deal with their problems outside of the work field. But those who believe that do not understand that...

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